The CARO Versatility Class: Challenge Yourself!

I am preparing to teach a CARO Versatility Class and this is what I have written for my students as an introduction to the class.

The Versatility Class is a deceptively challenging class offered by the Canadian Association of Rally Obedience. In this class dogs and handlers will heel on both sides, change sides and even perform obstacles! If rally was ever close to Freestyle – this is it!

This class is currently only available to dog and handler teams who have completed their CARO Rally Excellent title. That being said, this class offers considerable challenges in a variety of areas, and competitors who wait until they have finished their CARO Rally Excellent to start working on these exercises are at a considerable disadvantage.

By thinking about and training for the Versatility class early on in your dog’s Rally Obedience career, you are challenging yourself and your dog to work together at an advanced level which will pay out in dividends in everything else you do.

I have outlined what I believe to be the main challenges offered by the Versatility class below.


A Versatility course must include:

  • 15-20 stations selected from novice level exercises and the Versatility specific exercises numbered V1-V14
  • 4 changes of side (V1-V7)
  • Maximum 5 stationary stations (beginning with HALT)
  • One obstacle (Tunnel or Weave Poles)

The Versatility Class is judged in the same manner as the Excellent class, this means:

  • No food on course
  • No retries
  • 2ndcue costs you 2 points and 3rdcue costs you 5 points
  • To pass this class, teams need a minimum score of 170/200

Successful teams are teams that are ‘on the same page’. Handler cues are clear and well understood by the dog. To be successful a team:

  • Your dog must heel nicely on either side, until you indicate otherwise.A dog that moves out of heel position on either side will lose points for being out of position and for any cues used by the handler to get the dog back into position.
  • All exercises, including side changes, must be performed properly on the first try. Clear cues are necessary. Double commands are costly. Retries are not allowed.

As a handler you have two main challenges:

  • Keeping your mind on the heeling, exercises and side changes without losing contact with your dog.
  • Knowing when an extra command is more costly (or less) than continuing the exercise with a less than perfect performance.

Are YOU Ready for the Challenge?

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