RA210: Rally Skillbuilding 1

Posted in School of Rally

Instructor: Sue Ailsby

Course Details

Let's get ready to rally! This class is an introduction for people and dogs new to rally. You'll be learning the basic skills your dog needs to compete at the entry level of rally in a variety of venues, including AKC, CKC, WCRL, C-Wags, CARO, and more! We'll cover heeling variations, circles and turns, positions and walk arounds, fronts and finishes, and an amazing sidestep. You'll develop smooth, accurate, and cheerful teamwork for the rally ring. We want to send you and your dog into the rally ring with enthusiasm and confidence.

Keeping in the spirit of rally, we won't be working towards perfection - there are plenty of other FDSA classes for that - but we won't develop any bad habits that'll hold you back in other sports, either. What we will do is develop competence and enthusiasm while having a whole lot of fun!


There are no scheduled sessions for this class at this time. We update our schedule frequently, so please subscribe to our mailing list for notifications.

Registration will start at 12 noon PST.

Enrollment limits: 12 gold, 25 silver, unlimited bronze. If you are interested in a bronze level class, you can sign up any time during the registration period.

For answers to common questions about our classes, please see the FAQ page.


The plan for this class is to cover the following skills and behaviors each week:  

Pre-Class Checkups (available after registration):

Basic Clicker how-to

Rules of your chosen venue

Hand targeting

Teaching your dog to eat

Chutes & Ladders (300-Peck has nothing to do with pigeons!)


Week 1:

Basic focus - watching your hands, your eyes, and your shoulders.

Basic positions - sit, stand, and down.

Basic places - Heel Position and Front Position.

Beginning heeling - teaching heel position at the stand, sit, and down; teaching heel position while moving.


Week 2: 

The go-around finish.

The swing finish.


Week 3: 

Speed changes.

Automatic sits.

Position changes.


Week 4:

Using your swing finish for sidesteps, clean turns, halts, and backing up.

Sign Zen.


Stays and Walkarounds.


Week 5:

Turns and bends - spirals, serpentines, figure 8s, quarter-, half-, 3/4- and full turns in both directions, and the mysterious schutzhund turn.


Week 6:

Recalls and Finishes.

Moving downs and 1-2-3s.

Monkey In The Middle and solving other Botherations.


Prerequisites and Equipment

Prerequisites:  A food-motivated dog and some experience with clicker training.

Equipment:  The rules of your chosen rally venue, a printout of course signs for that venue, and at least a living-room-sized space to work in - preferably larger. I very strongly recommend you buy at least one - and preferably several - large mirrors so you can see what's going on behind you. These don't have to be big heavy quality mirrors. The cheap, over-the-door type are just fine.


Course Testimonials


Sue’s breadth of knowledge is amazing; she can say things in many different ways, but also, has things to say in many different ways. - Sue took every single video seriously and commented in detail on what she saw. - I like that Sue teaches to perfection while encouraging mini-steps along the way. What I mean is, we are nowhere near perfect, and maybe never will be, but Sue never made us feel like we have to settle for mediocre. - Loved the focus on the human; shoulders, head, eyes – all that. Seasoned trainers probably already know this, but it was new for me and past training experiences focused mainly on getting the dog to do stuff and not so much on the human’s role. It was pretty amazing to experiment and see how much this impacts what the dog does.           

The thing I liked about this course is that it taught the skill components of each Rally sign and broke it into different small behaviours. I had taken another intro course before which I would now describe as only an intro to the signs of Rally...rather than the skills of Rally.       

I have taken and taught rally courses. My dogs have competed to the excellent level. But this course was filled with information that challenges me to do more. I can't imagine a better and more enjoyable course in rally and in dog training in general. This was the best. Period.             

I wish I'd had this class years ago when I'd started training my dog for Rally. Sue does a great job building the skills needed for Rally competition with a joyful and precise canine companion.          

I learned so much from the feedback that Sue gave her Gold students. She is kind and humurous while being precise and full of alternates suggestions if the original way she presented the material does not work for a student. Great instructor; I won't take the next RA right now because I need more time to work on the basis but I will in the future and I will look up the other classes she instructs.               

Ailsby cares deeply about her students. Her comments and instruction show not only a profound understanding of the subject, but also a deep love of teaching and a great respect for each student.                 

I like straight talk and Sue delivers in a clear often entertaining way. When something's wrong, she points it out. When it's right, she says so. The goal and how to get there are very clearly articulated.           

The rally skill building course has taken me and my dog from basic pet obedience to ready to try at a trial in 6 weeks. The feedback and guidance given have been invaluable and the sudden increase in our abilities is due to this. It has given me a love for obedience that I never knew possible coming from an agility background. Loved every minute of the experience thank you Sue Ailsby. Lynn M