Episode 29: Fun and Bonding with Rally Obedience featuring Kelli Gilliss

Corey McCusker  00:03
Hello dog lovers, and welcome to Muttz with Mannerz™, Canine Training Academy Podcast, where we’ll share dog training tips and educational information to help you raise your pup – young or old – so they can be a loving part of your family and your community for life. I’m your host, Corey McCusker, Canine Coach, and today I’m thrilled to have with me, Kelli Gilliss, one of my valued team members who has dual roles with us, one as our senior groomer and the other as a trainer. Let me tell you a bit about our guest today, Kelli. She brings in an extensive background of dog training and behavior management to her work as a Certified International Groomer and Canine Coach. She is a graduate of Sheridan College Animal Health and Sciences and continues her education in Advanced Canine Nutrition and the Canadian Association of Professional Pet Dog Trainers. Kelli currently holds a position of Chair on ODGA, which stands for Ontario Dog Grooming Association. Her experience began in 1991 as a groomer and progressed to include multiple awards in the competitive grooming industry, and titles in dog obedience. Kelli will continue grooming – thank God and – we are excited she’s able to add to our team of trainers. Kelli started training and competing in obedience and agility in 1994. And as well as performing with an animal actor touring group, she has titled multiple dogs in Conformation, Obedience, Rally-O, Agility, Disk Dog, Herding, and Tracking. Her passion lends into expertise to handle difficult-to-manage animals in both her grooming and training platforms. She worked as an in-clinic trained veterinary technician since 1998 and Kelli now explores and practices holistic veterinarian care, Kelli keeps a happy home with her two Australian shepherds, Maui, 10 and a half years old and Crew, two. Her two children, Ella and Owen and her husband, Steve. At Muttz with Mannerz ™, our goal is to enrich the lives at both ends of the leash. And today we want to share a class that we know will do just that, Rally Obedience. So welcome, Kelli. 

Kelli Gilliss  02:13
Hi, Corey, thanks so much for having me here today.

Corey McCusker  02:16
So let’s talk about Rally Obedience and what it is. So Muttz with Mannerz™ introduced the Rally Obedience a couple of years ago, but it was just like a tiny bit, we added it into our second level of Agility. I’m unsure if someone founded it, or it just came about for dog lovers that like to enhance their skills, whether it be their own personal skills or their dog skills. For those that aren’t familiar with Rally Obedience and maybe are interested in learning more, or maybe we’re going to get them interested, can you share with us, Kelli, how you became interested in Rally Obedience and what it’s all about?

Kelli Gilliss  02:51
Absolutely, I love talking about Rally. I used to compete in Competitive Obedience and you can only go so far at that time, with title-wise. And once I realized that there was a new sport out there, which is considered a companion sport to Competitive Obedience, I was instantly intrigued. So I started doing a little research on it and realized that indeed, I wanted to go down this avenue with my own dogs. So the facility that I was with at the time, offered some classes, so I started training with my two different Australian shepherds at that time. And it’s similar to Competitive Obedience, but the skills are a little bit different. In traditional obedience, you cannot use any food, you cannot use any physical or verbal cues, so all of your training in traditional Obedience has to be done in a facility and you can’t bring that training into the ring with you. Whereas Rally Obedience, you can use food, you can use your voice, you can use your touch, you can have that connection with your dog. It’s constant motivation that you can bring into the ring with your dog. So it’s sort of by shaking off the stress of traditional Obedience and jumping into a more fun platform of competitive sports.

Corey McCusker  04:22
And you say a more fun platform and I’m going to say that I’ve done some Rally-O with . . . I went and explored it with my Great Dane and I was like, Okay, I don’t think I can do this with my Great Dane, only because my Great Dane was more senior but when I’ve gotten Skye, which she does the Agility, we did do some Rally Obedience and it was, it really it was building that bond like, and the obedience because she wasn’t always listening to me so. But we were having fun and she was having fun, which was really great. So if somebody was interested, I just talked about how you said, Fun, I said, Fun. What would it look like if you were taking a Rally Obedience class?

Kelli Gilliss  05:01
Well, hopefully you would have some foundation skills to go into a class with, which is, say your basic sit, down, recall, at least some loose leash walking skills. You would, of course, learn and improve on all of those. But having a little bit of a foundation will help you go in and be able to move through the stations a little easier. And you’re going to have a lot of fun with your dog, because you’re constantly joking with them and laughing with them. You can use treats, and we do use a foundation of games to teach a lot of the skills. So it really feels like you’re playing with your dog rather than traditionally working or training your dog.

Corey McCusker  05:46
Okay, so you mentioned the word “stations”. Expand on that.

Kelli Gilliss  05:49
So in Rally Obedience, it is comprised of several different exercises, anywhere between 10 to 20 different exercises, and set up as a station, which means that there is a sign for each station. And you have to complete whatever exercise is on that sign at each station. So if a novice rally course has between 10 and 15 exercises, then each station would be in the form of a cone, like a orange traffic cone, with a sign attached the front of it, directing you what you have to do with your dog. So that would be considered one station is what would you be told.

Corey McCusker  06:38
And what would be some of the things like that would be directing us? So what would be some of the simple ones in a novice?

Kelli Gilliss  06:42
I think simple ones would be your sit, stand, down. Sometimes it’ll be a sequence of all three of those put together. Lots of different turns . . . you got your left turns, your right turns, your about turns, your 270 turns. All different kinds of turns. 

Corey McCusker  07:01
Do you have to know degrees in order to do the 270 turns?

Kelli Gilliss  07:04
We can definitely break it down for those who are challenged in that area. 

Corey McCusker  07:08
No, I’m just kidding. Okay, so is Rally Obedience for everyone? Does an owner, like you mentioned the skill, so can a puppy go into it? But I think you mentioned . . . What would an owner have to definitely have in order to join, I’m going to say a novice level Rally Obedience class?

Kelli Gilliss  07:26
if you’re going into just a fun Rally Obedience class, it is important to have some kind of foundation, so a puppy class, maybe one or two levels of puppy class under your belt, say. So you’re comfortable, your puppy is comfortable with basic commands such as sit, stand, down, and recall. And that loose leash walking is important as well.

Corey McCusker  07:50
Okay, good. So does an owner and the dog’s athletic ability, like say somebody had some, like, I’m just thinking if somebody was senior, maybe not as mobile? So is there any athletic ability that an owner or a dog would have to have in order to do it?

Kelli Gilliss  08:11
Absolutely not. Everybody is welcome. All abilities are accommodated. So if you are senior or you have a disability, then whether it’s either in classes or in a competition ring, all will have different ascensions to cater to their needs. 

Corey McCusker  08:31
Okay, great. What if a dog is reactive or not used to being around other dogs? 

Kelli Gilliss  08:36
Well, the nice thing about Rally is if you’re going in the competitive ring, then it’s only ever one dog and one handler team together. And of course you would crate your dog when you’re not in the ring. Or you just learn to keep your space between dogs. If you’re in a class situation, then of course it would be set up so your dog would not be in direct contact with other dogs. So typically, we would run a class that would have several different areas with different stations. So it’s only one dog and one handler working at each station at any one time.

Corey McCusker  09:10
Yeah, and I know at Muttz with Mannerz™, we have the ability to do that, which is great. So what are the benefits of Rally Obedience?

Kelli Gilliss  09:17
Hmm . . . lots of different benefits. Rally-O, like I said, it’s fun. It tricks you into thinking that you are playing with your dog. You’re having fun with your dog, but you’re really doing a lot of really essential obedience skills. And it’s when you have fun with your dog, when you’re relaxed with your dog, you create a really strong bond with that dog. Mental stimulation of course, is key. You keep your dog on his toes, keeping him thinking, keeping you thinking.

Corey McCusker  09:49
I was going to say, definitely because it’s like, Okay, do I turn left, right, 270? What’s that?

Kelli Gilliss  09:53
Exactly. And of course, you’re practicing those skills one at a time before we put them together. So it all comes together between body and mind,

Corey McCusker  10:02
Definitely, and I just would say when I was doing it, what I liked about was the skill challenge, but also the mental challenge, meaning I had to know the sequence that I was doing. And then when I got to each station, I have to know, Okay, what do I need to direct my dog? Because your dog is really looking for the direction from you. Because they’re not really sure. So, yeah, definitely strengthens the bond. 

Kelli Gilliss  10:24

Corey McCusker  10:25
Okay. So I know you love to compete, you talk about it all the time, you’re always working with your dogs. So if somebody wanted to get serious about Rally-O, what’s involved in competing?

Kelli Gilliss  10:37
Well, if you end up getting bit by the competition bug, then it would be best to join as a member, join whatever association that you want to compete with, which there are CARO, they’re three different associations that you can compete with. And all of them welcome both purebred or mixed breed dogs. So there’s CARO Obedience, which is the Canadian Association of Rally Obedience. And there is the Canadian Kennel Club and the American Kennel Club. So you just need to choose which one you want to join and compete with, and register as a member and find out where the competitions are held. And go from there. 

Corey McCusker  11:24
Awesome. So we’ve talked about how it’s fun, how it builds a bond, how any owner or dog that wants to have fun and have some basic obedience can join it. And would you say there’s any reason why somebody that does have all of those that wouldn’t join it? Or wouldn’t want to get interested in it?

Kelli Gilliss  11:48
I honestly can’t imagine why they wouldn’t be interested. Even if you do not want to compete. It’s so much fun to do with your dog. 

Corey McCusker  11:57
Yeah, and I think to what we do at Muttz with Mannerz™, at least, is we are always trying to add a very diverse curriculum for our clients, because yes, they come to the puppy classes, and then they love seeing the results. So they want to do more and that’s why we added Agility and Scenting. And now Rally-O, just kind of is a nice added one, that it’s not about you running and jumping and jumps, it’s about you really having that bond with your dog and doing the various stations and working on obedience.

Kelli Gilliss  12:25
Absolutely. And that’s why Rally-O is brought into existence is people just wanted to do more. We want to do something different and fun. And that is how CARO came to be.

Corey McCusker  12:38
Excellent. All right. Well, thank you so much, Kelli, for joining me today and sharing your knowledge about Rally Obedience. I’m definitely going to have you back on another podcast because if you listen to Kelli’s bio, there are so many different topics she can talk about. So I want to dive into the grooming. Kelli also runs our foundation skill program levels one and two for adolescent dogs and rescue dogs, and it just is doing wonders with those dogs that maybe need to build some confidence or have some fear. And if you want to know more information about Kelli, or Muttz with Mannerz™, and our classes that we offer, you can visit our website at, www.muttzwithmannerz.com. It’s also provided with you in the show notes. I will also include the links to CKC, AKC and the CARO, so that you can explore that. And if you are interested in future podcasts or reading our blogs, you can go to our website and look at our education portal to see what we have for you. If you’re interested in a certain topic on a podcast, please reach out to us. You can email us at info@muttzwithmannerz.com Kelli, thanks so much for joining me. And our goal is really to enrich the lives at both ends of the lease. So thank you listeners. Have a great day everyone.

Kelli Gilliss  13:56
Thank you so much for having me, Corey. I really enjoyed our talk today.

Corey McCusker  14:00
All right. Have a great day everyone.


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