RA501: Foundation Skills for Rally-FrEe and Musical Freestyle 1

Instructor: Julie Flanery

Course Details

Rally-FrEe is a unique sport with the structure of a Rally course and the creativity of Musical Freestyle. To learn more about Rally-FrEe, please visit www.rallyfree.com

RA 501 is course 1 of 2 Foundation courses, and is a pre-requisite for RA 502 Foundation 2. RA502 Foundation 2 is offered October 2016. It is recommended that both courses be completed.  RA500 will also be accepted as a pre-requisite to RA502.

Each sport has its own set of foundation skills that allow the dog and handler to move more quickly and confidently through the training process of more complex skills.  

For both Rally-FrEe and Freestyle, training transitions that include returning to a position are paramount to the team’s success. Transitions allow the dog and handler team to change position and/or direction without changing the dog’s flow of momentum.

We’ll focus on creating confidence and precision in foundation freestyle behaviors as well as creating clear and consistent criteria, often through the use of and environmental management.

An important aspect of both Rally-FrEe and Musical Freestyle is placing behaviors on verbal cues and eliminating the need for hand cues. We’ll go step by step through the process of putting value and meaning into your verbal cues, preventing both dog and handler from becoming dependent on hand cues.

RA501 and 502 are great for anyone wanting to venture into the sports of Freestyle or Rally-FrEe but also for instructors considering adding Rally-FrEe or Freestyle to their class curriculum. 


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 begin at 12:00 noon, PDT.

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


Week 1: Lecture, Video and Exercises

Transitions and Positions: what they are and why we need them    

Choice of methods – shape, lure or target? 

Teaching Stand

Placing lured behaviors on verbal cue – “stand” 

Week 2: Lecture, Video and Exercises

Environmental management in shaping  

Circling the handler from left and right  

Placing shaped behaviors on verbal cue  

Placing circle behaviors on cue,   

Week 3: Lecture, Video and Exercises

Target Stick: How and Why 

Removing the gates for circles 

Week 4: Lecture, Video and Exercises

Spin to Position, CW and CCW  


Week 5: Lecture, Video and Exercises

Placing spin on verbal cue, removing the target stick   

Paw work  

Week 6: Lecture, Video and Exercises

Continue Paw work

Thru to left Heel

Thru to Right Heel

Placing thru on verbal cue, removing props   

Prerequisites and Equipment


Students should be familiar with the use of markers, either a clicker or verbal marker and should understand the process of “shaping” or marking and rewarding small increments of behavior toward building the end result.

Dogs should have an understanding of markers and have the ability to focus on the handler during an exercise.  And be able to maintain a standing, stationary position in left and right heel for a few seconds.


We’ll be using target sticks for some behaviors. Target sticks should be 14-18 inches long and have a distinct “target” at the end.  If you don’t have a target stick, a household item may be used, such as a long wooden spoon or you can make one from a wooden or acrylic dowel and a foam practice golf ball. Target sticks can also be purchased online.

We will be using “training gates” to create clear criteria and eliminate the need for hand cues.  These can be made from wire cube organizer panels (sold online or in-store), secured in lengths of 10 with zip-ties.  Often you can find the wire panels used at thrift stores.  The best price I’ve found is at K-mart online, free ship to store or home, linked above. One box of 6 cubes will net you two lengths of 10 panels.  This is enough to cover the exercises in this course.

Very large dogs or dogs that may not respect barriers may use 18”-24’ Ex-pens.  Small dogs under 14 inches may use “critter trail play pen” also found online.

Standing platforms are on option for some exercises. But only if your dog understands their value.

Please contact me if you have any questions regarding equipment. 

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Course Testimonials

A sampling of what prior students of Rally-FrEe and Musical Freestyle Foundations classes have said .....

Julie Flanery provides wonderful videos and description on how to progress with all rally free positions and transfer from either left or right side of the handler. plus very fun and easy to train all the tricks the way she shows each step. Greatly appreciated the class! Scout and I hope to show in rally free sometime soon.              

Julie is an excellent instructor. WOW she has some great ideas to simplify training. Splitting behaviors down to the tiniest detail. Love it!            

I enjoyed this class a lot and so did Heidi. The training gates that Julie uses to teach behaviors with precision are very helpful. Heidi comes running when the gates go up and doesn’t want to leave them. She loves the circles. Julie is always supportive with excellent comments and tips. The demonstration videos with her adorable and enthusiastic dog, Kashi, are inspiring! In this class there was a lot of communication among students. Forum discussions were lively and interesting. I am looking forward to taking more of Julie’s classes            

I have to say - and wish I could make this 48pt size - of all the courses I've taken with FDSA, Julie Flanery has been the BEST INSTRUCTOR.  Her feedback to the students is extremely good and well-stated and she is sensitive and kind. The lecture materials are complete and easily understood. I wish I had more thumbs to give her an adequate ThumbsUP....             

Julie is simply wonderful! She was so clear and precise and I feel my training skills have improved greatly! I can't wait for her next class...        

Julie Flanery is an outstanding training instructor who teaches Rally FrEe in very organized, detailed lectures with clear and concise videos and gives encouraging and precise feedback to the participants. Can't wait to take her next class. I'm moving up to Gold! Ellen S.           

Julie is a terrific trainer. She understands the principles of operant conditioning and applies them consistently in her training. She is a joy to watch! Pamela L.             

Julie is wonderful. She supports the class who submitted videos extremely well. As a person who did not submit videos I was able to watch and learn. It was interesting thtat she was talking about developing an eye to see what was wrong and how to fix it. I feel like that applied to me.      

This class was amazing and Julie certainly gives absolutely stellar videos and feedback. Her eye for detail is amazing and I will absolutely continue learning with her whenever her classes are offered!