Rally (or 'Rally O' in the USA) is a canine sport derived from the heelwork elements of competitive Obedience. It differs from Obedience primarily in that competitors and dogs attempt a pre-set course along which signs are placed at up to 15 stations (Level 1) along the course.
The selection of exercises and design of course is at the judge's discretion. Each individual round is performed at a 'brisk pace' and takes around four minutes. There is no direction from the judge or steward as in Obedience; the signs are all the guidance competitors receive. Handlers walk through the course (without dogs) before the competition starts. At Levels 1 and 2, the lowest levels, dogs compete on lead and a loose lead is emphasized. The handler may give verbal commands and encouragement throughout as necessary.
More advanced levels require dogs to compete off lead. Physical or harsh verbal correction is strictly penalised. Elements of Obedience such as group stays and scent exercises do not feature; like agility, once the competitor has completed the round he or she has finished. Although based on Obedience heelwork, many exercises differ significantly from those found in competitive Obedience and introduce innovative concepts of control of the dog.
Competitors start each round with a perfect score of 200 and deductions are made by the judge for inaccuracies and mistakes in performance. As in Working Trials, progression to the next Level will be based on reaching a qualifying standard, requiring three qualifying scores of 170 or better under three different judges. Places are awarded at competitions but progression is independent of winning first places.