How to Build a Rally Course

Building a rally obediece course correctly and efficiently is a skill that will serve you well as a rally obediece competitor.

People who can build courses well, will build them more frequently, and people who build courses more frequently will likely practice courses more frequently.

Below are my tips for making course building more efficient. This information is honed through over a decade of experience judging and teaching rally classes.

  1. Review your course map to determine what equipment you will need. The course map above shows that for this course, 15 sign holders, 5 pylons and numbers 1-13 are required.
  2. Pull your signs. Most rally obedience software will put the sign # in brackets beside the sign description on your course map. This means that I would pull signs 1, 17, 19, 34 42 and so on for this course.
  3. Place your signholders/station numbers down first. Pay close attention to the location coordinates of your signs.
    1. Most signs will be placed to the right of the handler’s path. (Stations Start, 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 10, 13 and Finish above)
    2. The exception to this rule is that change of direction signs (most turns, sidesteps, etc) will be placed in front of the handler’s path. (Stations 3, 5, 8, 9, 11 and 13)
    3. Depending on the organisation, signs for obstacle stations may be placed near obstacles, or a certain distance from them. It’s always a good idea to confirm placement of obstacle signage with your rulebook. (No obstacles in this course)
  4. Place your signs in the appropriate sign holders. If you have someone helping you, they can follow behind as you place sign holders. 
  5. Measure your distances. A number of exercises have specific space/distance requirements. It’s a good idea to use a measuring tape to measure these elements to ensure accuracy. In the course above, I would measure out distances for stations 4 and 7.
  6. Make any necessary adjustments. After the initial placement of signs and measurement of stations, you may find you need to make a number of minor adjustments to the course to ensure accuracy. 
  7. Walk your course with your coursemap. This is your final check to ensure that you have placed signs correctly, your numbers are correct and that the course flows as intended. If you are building a course for a virtual trial do not skip this step!

Now you are ready to walk the course with your dog and handling strategies in mind. Have fun!

If you are interested in learning more about the sport of Rally Obedience, you might want to check out my upcoming classes page at:

4 thoughts on “How to Build a Rally Course

  1. Hi Ayoka.
    Station 7; figure 8;
    For a virtual trial (and an irl Trial) are you suggesting the pylons should not be aligned but more offset pattern as shown this course design?

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