Rules & Regulations

Scoring Standards

Scoring standards have been established to place emphasis on the Rally course performance as a whole and to provide a means of measuring the performance against qualitative standards set forth for each exercise. The course provides a framework for performance, which not only includes the exercise elements, but elements related to movement between exercises from start to finish.

A score is made up of three components:

  • Course value, which is the maximum possible score on a course and includes the potential addition of bonus points
  • General course penalties, penalties related to heeling and flow between stations, and penalties related generally to all exercises and behavior in the ring
  • Exercise penalties for errors in performance of specific exercises

The deduction of all penalties from the course value determines the final score. The team with the highest score and best time is the top placing team.

Section 4.1—Course Value

Each team enters the ring with a course value or score of 200 points. This value may be increased up to 210 points if a handler opts to perform the bonus exercise and completes it without penalty.

Qualifying and Nonqualifying Scores

A score of 170 and higher is a Qualifying Score, meaning that the minimum standards for performance in a class have been met. Qualifying Scores are required to earn titles. A score less than 170 is a Nonqualifying Score. An Elimination is also a Nonqualifying Score and is scored as a zero.

Section 4.2—General Course Penalties

General course penalties include Elimination (E) conditions and general penalties that apply during the course, including in the performance of all exercises, whether or not described as part of the exercise.

General Penalties

1-point deduction (each occurrence)

  • Barking episode (where episode is 1 or more barks in a series, per judge discretion)
  • Heeling faults – bumping, forging, lagging, or drifting wide
  • Jumping on handler
  • Tight leash

2-point deduction (each occurrence)

  • Adapting pace
  • Additional cue
  • Displacing or splitting a sign
  • Dropping the leash while performing the course (Level 1 & Intro classes)
  • Handler dropping food in the ring
  • Initiating an exercise outside of the approximate 4’ (1.2m) radius (performance area) of the exercise sign
  • Sit, down, or stand when not required, including sit or down while heeling on course

3-point deduction (each occurrence)

  • Temporary loss of control

5-point deduction (each occurrence)

  • Rewarding in a shared station for the shared element (Intro class)

Elimination (E) – Round Scored Zero

  • Exceeding maximum course time (MCT)*
  • Excusal request by handler and approved by the judge, which shall not be withheld
  • Failure to demonstrate the ability to heel between the majority of exercises**
  • Inappropriate or undesirable behavior initiated by dog, including but not limited to:***
    • Acts of aggression that indicates a possible risk of injury to a person, another dog, or damage to property
    • Exhibits illness or pain
    • Defecates or urinates
    • Loss of control (other than a temporary loss) for a signifcant period of time where handler is unable to recall the dog by voice or hand cues to resume performance and must physically retrieve the dog
  • Luring or improper rewarding during course performance**
  • Off course**
    • Omission of an exercise (other than a bonus)
    • Out of sequence performance of an exercise
  • Poor sportsmanship, including but not limited to:***
    • Being abusive to a dog (including a harsh physical or auditory correction)
    • Disruptive behavior on the premises
    • Intentional leash corrections or use of leash to force dog into a position
    • Showing disrespect for host officials, judge, or others
    • Touching a dog to prompt an exercise**
    • Use of any collar or training aid during course performance other than those listed in Section 3.1**

*Dismissal from the ring at Trial Host’s discretion; Timing Steward may signal the judge that MCT has been reached

**Dismissal from the ring at judge’s discretion based upon the nature and severity of the offense

***Immediate dismissal from the ring (and for acts of aggression and poor sportsmanship, complaint filed with Disciplinary Action Committee)

Section 4.3—Exercise Penalties

The judge shall assess exercise penalties for failure to fulfill the exercise requirements as set forth in Chapters 5 – 7 of the Official Regulations. Penalties indicate a need for improvement in order to meet qualitative requirements of each exercise. A maximum of 10 points may be assessed for each exercise sign. (If more than 10 deduction points are accumulated on a single exercise, only 10 points are deducted.)

Primary Element Penalties

Incorrect performance of the Primary Element of an exercise means that the principal purpose of the exercise sign has not been satisfied and is penalized as set forth below. Retry of the entire exercise is permitted for these errors.

5-point deduction (each occurrence)

  • Incorrect performance of a Primary Element of an exercise

Secondary Element Penalties

Incorrect performance of an element, other than a Primary Element, of an exercise as described in the exercise “Requirements” or listed below shall be penalized as a Secondary Element penalty. Secondary Element penalties may also be assessed on the performance of Primary Elements. Retry of the entire exercise is permitted for these errors.

1-point deduction (each occurrence)

  • Crooked sit, stand, down, or front—each 30° (see diagrams below)
  • Not moving in unison with handler
  • Out of place sit, stand, down, or front, including moving partially out of place
  • Significant hesitation or anticipation of a cue

2-point deduction (each occurrence)

  • Handler’s or dog’s failure to perform an exercise as described, other than a Primary Element
  • Moving out of place—more than 50% of footprint

3-point deduction (each occurrence)

  • Retry of an exercise or shared station

Section 4.4—Special Scoring Considerations

Generally, penalties shall be assessed based upon a judge’s interpretation of the regulations, even where the situation is not specifically referred to in the regulations. Such interpretation shall be done in the context of the intent of the rules in performing the whole course, with the following special scoring considerations:

Double Jeopardy

Double Jeopardy is assigning two or more separate penalties for a single action or behavior of a dog or handler in the performance of an element. Where two or more penalties could be applied in this situation, only one penalty (of the higher value) shall be assessed.

Examples include:

  • While heeling, a handler concurrently gives an additional cue and adapts pace; a single penalty will be assessed.
  • On exercise #100 (Halt, Sit), a dog sits both crooked and out of place; a single penalty will be assessed.
  • On exercise #104 (Halt, Sit, Down), a dog sits crooked, then downs in the same place (crooked); only the initial sit is scored as crooked.

In the performance of a Shared Station, the shared element is only scored once, unless the handler chooses to perform the Shared Station as separate exercises.

Penalties Not Erased With a Retry

The following penalties are not erased with a retry:

  • Behavioral-related penalties of “Barking episode,” “Jumping on handler,” and “Temporary loss of control”
  • Procedural-related penalties of “Displacing or splitting a sign,” “Dropping the leash,” “Handler dropping food,” and “Initiating an exercise outside of the approximate 4’ radius of the exercise sign”
  • Elimination (E) conditions
  • Outside Assistance

Outside Assistance

Outside assistance is using the aid of any other person(s) while performing the course. The judge’s determination shall be based upon the degree of benefit that was gained (e.g., the aid resulted in penalty avoidance) or whether the aid removed the opportunity to judge. The penalty for outside assistance is the penalty that would have been assessed without the aid of outside assistance.

Examples include:

  • A handler fails to attempt the down in exercise #114 (Halt, Sit, Down, Walk Around). As the team is proceeding to the next station, a spectator calls out the error; if the handler then retries the exercise correctly, the judge must make a determination whether the handler performed the retry on their own (in which case the retry penalty applies) or as a result of the outside assistance (in which case the Primary Element penalty applies since that would have been the penalty without the benefit of outside assistance.)
  • One or more spectators call out the next sequence of the course to a handler who has stopped momentarily on course; the judge must make a determination whether the handler resumed their performance through the use of outside assistance, and if so, apply the Elimination penalty for off-course.

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