Rally Signs: To Sit or Not to Sit in Heel Position

June 1, 2024

When you are doing a rally class with your dog, do you struggle to remember when to have your dog sit in heel versus moving forward?  If yes, you are not alone!  One of the biggest struggles with Rally is remembering all those pesky little rules.

 

Let’s take a look at the sit versus forward signs that you will find in AKC Rally!

 

Novice

 

There are four signs in rally Novice that involve sit or no sit in heel.  They are Call Front Finish Right Forward, Call Front Finish Left Forward, Call Front Finish Right Sit, Call Front Finish Left Sit.  Thankfully, there are two clues that can help us remember if the dog should sit in heel or not.  If the sign says Forward and there is not a stop sign, the dog should not sit in heel.  Instead, if the sign says Sit and there is a stop sign, the dog should sit in heel.

 

I want to point out something specifically in the rules that many handlers miss or forget about.  The regulations specifically say regarding the forward signs, “as the dog clears the handler’s path, the handler will heel forward before the dog returns to heel position.”  Many judges don’t pay too much attention to this, as long as the dog doesn’t sit, but I’ve seen lots of judges that do.  If you wait for your dog to get into heel before you go forward, you will lose points eventually.  The dog is supposed to catch up to you as you move forward.

 

Here are some videos showing what these signs should look like.

 

Call Front Finish Sit (both directions):

 

 

Call Front Finish Forward (both directions):

 

 

Advanced

 

When we get to rally advanced, the stop signs stay on the signs as a reminder about if your dog should sit in heel.  The first two signs are Halt Call Front Finish Right and Halt Call Front Finish Left.  For these signs, there are two stop signs; one indicates the halt in heel as you stop.  You then call your dog to front (without moving your feet) and the dog sits in front.  Cue the dog to finish and the dog sits in heel.

 

 

 

The other two advanced signs are Halt Step in Front Finish Right Forward and Halt Step in Front Finish Left Forward.  With these signs, our clue is the word “forward”.  As you’re heeling, you will halt and your dog will sit.  You will cue a stay, step in front of the dog, and ask for a finish either right or left.  As the dog clears your path you will heel forward before the dog returns to heel position.

 

 

 

Excellent

 

The first sign in rally Excellent that you have to think about a sit in heel is Stand Leave Sit Call Front Finish Sit and Stand Leave Down Call Front Finish Sit.  Once again, we have a hint with the last word “sit”.  With both of these signs, the dog will sit in heel position.  The dog can finish either direction.

 

 

The next sign in Excellent is Dog Circles Right Sit.  The “sit” makes it easy for us to remember that the dog needs to sit in heel position.

 

 

Master

 

There are several signs in rally Master that involve sitting or not sitting in heel.

 

The first signs are the Recall Over Jump signs.  These are listed as Recall Over Jump FInish Left Turn Forward, Recall Over Jump Finish Right Turn Forward, Recall Over Jump Finish About Turn Forward.  For these signs, you leave the dog in a sit, walk to the other side of the jump, call the dog to front, then cue the dog to finish.  With all three of these signs, as the dog clears your path and before your dog gets to heel, you will heel forward on whichever line is indicated.  You will end up doing either a right turn, a left turn, or an about turn.  For these signs, there is NO sit in heel.

 

Here is the about turn:

 

 

And the left turn:

 

 

Next we have the Call Front Move Side Steps Finish Forward Signs.  Our clue is the word “forward”.  After you cue your dog to finish in either direction, you will heel forward as the dog clears your path.

 

Here’s an example of the Side Step Left.

 

 

The last signs in Master are the Halt Leave Recall Finish Right Sit and the Halt Leave Recall Finish Left Sit signs.  Once again, we have a clue – the word “sit”.  In both of these signs, the dog will sit in heel after the finish.

 

Here’s an example:

 

 

In summary, we have clues with every sign.  If the sign has a stop sign (or two), that’s a heads-up that the dog should sit.  The dog should sit in heel if the sign says “sit” as the last word.  If there is no stop sign, the dog should not sit in heel.  With signs that say “forward,” the dog should not sit in the heel position.

 

How many times have you lost points for doing the sign incorrectly?  It happens to all of us!  If you’d like to get to know these signs better so you don’t lose points, join me at Fenzi Dog Sports Academy for my rally class, From Good to GREAT: Increasing Your Rally Scores.  You’ll learn the signs, common mistakes to avoid, and we’ll spend some time cleaning up you and your dog’s skills!  I look forward to seeing you!

Join me for my best rally class!

From Good to GREAT: Increasing Your Rally Scores is my favorite class to teach!  If you want strategies to implement immediately to better your scores, this class will do it!

We’ll also cover improving your skills so your dog is more accurate, as well as spending time working on learning signs so you know exactly what to do!

Your investment on this class will help you walk out of the ring with better scores!

Registration opens on May 22nd.  The 6-week class will start on June 1st!

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