Risby Blog, January 2024- Written by Judge Jayne

Thank you to Lucy for hosting the trial and giving me the opportunity to judge, and thank you to participants entering the first Talking Dogs Rally trial of 2024.  Although it was a tad chilly outside, the Village Hall was warm, and it was very much appreciated that Lucy had provided a catering service with hot drinks and delicious bacon sandwiches!

An indoor trial environment can present different environmental factors for handlers and dogs, but it was great to see teams overcome these and set their dogs up to succeed and progress through their respective classes.

I have taken a different approach with this blog to previous ones, as I feel it is important to share a few of my overall judging observations amongst the wider Talking Dogs Rally participants so that we can all aim to improve our trial skills.

Additional Cues The indoor environment highlighted where handlers are using additional cues that might not normally be picked up in an outdoor setting, and when a handler made repetitive clicking or kissing noises to motivate their dog this is amplified in the hall. 

Another type of additional cue is tapping your leg and wiggling your fingers which again tends to be done repeatedly.

Sometimes handlers are not aware that they are doing this, so it is useful to ask someone else to watch and listen for what you do when working a round, and then look at fading out any repetitive noises or hand signals that are identified.  

Handler nerves There is no doubt that entering the trial ring to be judged causes every handler to feel nervous. This is absolutely normal for everyone entering the trial ring.

Try flipping the nerves and emotions over.  Instead of focusing on what you think your dog cannot do, or will not do, look at the positives of what your dog can do and what your dog enjoys doing.

Use your walk-through to identify those exercises that you know you have not fully proofed yet, and have a strategy for how you will deal with this during the round, eg, move onto the next exercise, additional cue, retry.  Try to not let one specific exercise affect the whole of your round.

Take a strategic approach to the things that don’t go well, make a note of which exercises were challenging and work with your trainer to break the exercise down and proof it for future trials. 

Blog for Monkchester Trial written by Judge Jayne and Judge Cristen

For our final Northern trial of 2023, the welcome warmth of Monkchester Community Centre was in stark contrast to the chilly and bright November sunshine outside and our rally teams were definitely not envious of the footballers all weather pitch on this occasion.  

The community centre is a great indoor venue for rally and this time around the Judges were able to offer all levels due to effective course design which will now be a regular feature for future trials in the North at this venue.

It was fabulous to see many of the Ruff Diamond Dog Training teams who have progressed through from Puppy and Level 1 competently and confidently participating at Pre-Level 2, and they are all more than capable of taking the next step to the off-lead Level 2 at future trials.  It was also lovely to see newer teams building upon their trial experience in a different venue/environment.

Puppy Level

The first Puppy team comprised of Becka with Jaxon a super bright Cockerpoo.  Becka is very new to Talking Dogs Rally, this being their second trial and a completely new venue to them.  Jaxon took it all in his stride and Becka took on board feedback regarding an effective reward strategy during the round which saw them deliver a superb second round achieving their Puppy Title.  

At the opposite end of the experienced handler scale, we had Judge Cristen working Dreya, her wee pocket rocket Border Terrier, this dog has super sass and is an absolute joy to watch.  The results from this trial saw Cris and Dreya achieve their Puppy Championship.  I am excited to see this team progress through all the Talking Dogs Rally levels.

Level 1 and Veteran Level 1

Level 1 is where we see the biggest variety of breeds/crossbreeds and it is always lovely to see that every dog can participate and achieve in Talking Dogs Rally. 

Vicki, with her gorgeous Australian Doodles Rouggie and Mella, is such a calm and sensitive handler and the dogs are super tuned in, responding beautifully to clean cues and signals which produces very consistent, accurate rounds with very little to mark.  Congratulations on your ACE scores.

Sara worked her young dog Reo, a crossbreed terrier who is a super-fast and bright dog, keenly focused on Sara and he has the most stunning prancing heelwork!  Sara is a talented handler, and this team have such great potential to fly through the Talking Dogs Rally levels at speed.  Hugely well-deserved ACE scores.

It is always a pleasure to see Lina and her three talented dogs at our northern trials, they travel all the way to Newcastle from London.  In Level 1 Lina worked Pheobe, her young Cocker Spaniel who has amazing focus and energy, and Lina channels this beautifully and accurately into her rally rounds.  Consistent accurate handling achieved ACE scores. 

Lesley and Mitro, her Cocker Spaniel, are a team that I have not judged previously, and they are relatively new to Talking Dogs Rally trials.  Despite being a little nervous, Lesley handled Mitro beautifully and consistently, and he responded with focus, engagement and super consistent heelwork, resulting in them achieving ACE scores.  I am looking forward to seeing this team progress.

Jude and Harry, a Scottish Terrier are always a pleasure to watch. Harry is super focused on Jude and he has great style and consistency in his rally.  I cannot recall seeing another Scottish Terrier working in Talking Dogs Rally and Harry is a fabulous example of the versatility of the breed. They gained very well deserved ACE scores at this trial.

Becka worked her older dog Zack, a Flat Coated Retriever who has been part of a flyball team.  They are participating in Talking Dogs Rally as a lower impact sport that can sustain Zack as he gets older.  There is a fabulous connection between Zack and Becka and he is taking to Talking Dogs Rally with ease.  Congratulation on achieving an ACE score.

Gemma worked Cal who is a veteran Border Collie owned by Judge Cristen.  Gemma walks with the aid of crutches and she has trained Cal to accept and work around the crutches for rally.  This is incredibly impressive to see in action during a rally round, with small adjustments regarding the crutches being made by Gemma to enable Cal to perform exercises such as when he needs to go around Gemma and into the opposite heel position.  Gemma and Cal make this look very easy and natural.  Well done Gemma and Cal on your ACE scores.

Pre-Level 2, Veteran Pre-Level 2, Level 2 and Veteran Level 2

Lina worked her two veteran Crossbreeds, Hiccup and Sidney.  Firstly, it was wonderful to see Hiccup, who has had some recent health concerns, come into the hall keen to work and then engage in true partnership with Lina to deliver a beautifully accurate and consistent round with very little to mark.  Then not to be outdone, Sidney gave us two stylish rounds that were also fabulous to watch.  Congratulations on your ACE scores Hiccup and Sidney.

It was lovely to see Hazel and her two Pugs, Yogi and Hank at this trial, the boys are very different in their rally, and it is testimony to Hazel’s ability as a handler to support them as individuals, and enable them to participate and achievein rally.  Hank, is a veteran, and he always gives a very consistent and focused performance achieving OUTSTANDING scores at this trial. Hank is owned by Hazel’s daughter.  Yogi is a younger dog and he has what could be described as a cheeky, free spirited approach to rally. He is always an absolute joy to watch.  Yogi achieved OUTSTANDING scores.  Well done Hazel and your lovely boys.

Sara worked her older dog Ted, a Bedlington cross Whippet, Ted is completely different to Sara’s younger dog Reo, and it is not easy working multiple dogs in anything, yet Sara adapts her handling with ease to support Ted effectively throughout the rounds resulting in consistent performances gaining them ACE scores.  Congratulations Sara and Ted.

Ann and Dexter, a veteran Miniature Schnauzer, and Judge Jayne and Snoopy, a veteran Cockerpoo, are working their way back down the veteran levels having attained championships through all the current levels over the many years they have been participating in Talking Dogs Rally.  Dexter was full of energy for his rounds and gained ACE scores.  One of the many great things about Talking Dogs Rally is that judges are able to enter on the day they are judging. This can be a little bit rushed having to get the dog straight from the car into the ring. This doesn’t phase Judge Jayne or Snoopy who come in and work the round like the pros they are. Jayne and Snoopy have a lovely partnership with Jayne knowing how to get the best out of Snoopy. Jayne and Snoopy achieved ACE scores.  Well done Ann and Dexter, and Judge Jayne and Snoopy. 

Lauren and Jasper, a stunning Labrador, have stepped up to Pre-Level 2 with ease.  Lauren is a genuinely lovely handler with clean cues and communication, this enables Jasper to respond accurately and consistently, a very impressive team to watch for connectivity and partnership.  This team have grown and improved so much since the first time I judged them, always taking on board feedback and acting on it for the next time.  Congratulations Lauren and Jasper on your ACE scores, very well deserved.

Level 3 and Veteran Level 3

Firstly, we had Ann and Stuie, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel working towards his Level 3 Championship.  For anyone who doesn’t know the story, Stuie was an impulse purchase when Ann was at a Talking Dogs Rally trial on the Isle of Wight!  He was always going to be Ann’s next rally dog, and he has consistently worked his way up the levels, from Puppy Championship, picking up all the Titles and Championships along the way.  Ann and Stuie achieved OUTSTANDING scores this weekend.  Well done Ann and Stuie.

Then finally to Judge Cristen and her veteran Rossi, a crossbreed Dalmatian, who put in two stunningly accurate Veteran Level 3 rounds to go towards their championship.  Rossi can struggle in some environments, and Judge Cristen is always careful to ensure that Rossi has a great experience at a trial.   Not an easy thing to achieve sometimes, and not always easy to manage when you are the trial host, and you are also judging, and yet Rossi has learned to adapt and respond positively and with eagerness to having shorter warm ups prior to being asked to do his rounds.  Congratulations Judge Cristen and Rossi on your ACE scores.

Thank you to the participants

I never underestimate the courage it takes for a team to take what they have learned in a training environment, and enter a trial where they will be assessed and critiqued.  I commend each and every team that does this.  The result is a rich learning experience that highlights where trained behaviours are solid, and then identifies other areas that can be improved upon.  The reason I love rally is that it provides an ever-evolving training system for life and not just for the short term, and the bond this creates with my own dog is an amazing feeling. 

I thoroughly enjoyed watching all of the different partnerships this weekend and the relationships that have grown between handler and dog in the time since I first judged everyone in Puppy and Level 1.  It was also wonderful to see everyone supporting and encouraging each other throughout the day.

Without you, the participants, there would be no Talking Dogs Rally, or trials, and your engagement with the training via Cristen, and entering the trials is very much appreciated.  

A huge than you also to everyone for helping the day run smoothly yesterday by being where you needed to be, at the time you needed to be there, this made for a very enjoyable and efficiently run day, and it is always greatly appreciated that everyone stays until the end and helps us to pack everything up.  Thank you so much.

Blog written jointly by Judge Jayne and Judge Cristen

On Sunday 8th October we were once again at Northallerton for another one day trial. Thanks to Jo at Positively Canine for hosting. Also big shout out to Emma, Jane and Sarah for helping to set up and clear away – we really appreciate it.

This was my (Judge Cris) first time judging above Level 1 and I thoroughly enjoyed it. In the morning I judged Levels 2 and 3 and Jayne judged Level 1 and puppy. Then we swapped in the afternoon.

My Level 2 and 3 courses did include the dreaded food bowls which unfortunately proved attractive to a few of the dogs, however I was pleased to see all handlers tackling it really well. Northallerton trials always have a few challenges as the venue is a working farm, set in lovely countryside. Today to add to the usual sheep keeping a watchful eye, and their poo in the grass we also had loud noises from tree cutting near by.

One of the (many) things I love about Talking Dogs Rally is that as a judge you can still (And are actively encouraged) to enter your own dogs. It can be a little bit rushed at times fitting it all in, but  all good fun and as Jayne & Snoopy demonstrated both morning and afternoon if you put in the training you can do great rounds even when you come straight from the car to the ring. They are a superb team to watch with Jane knowing exactly how to get the best out of Snoopy who thoroughly enjoys his Talking Dogs Rally.

Sarah & Ted – Having only been doing Talking Dogs Rally for just over a year Team Ted are doing brilliantly. They’ve progressed smoothly into Pre Level 2 and today gained two more Ace rosettes.

Emma & Wilf – Wilf came into the ring in the morning full of bounce and enthusiasm. With Emma’s calm handling he did two very nice rounds and gained his Veteran Level 3 Championship in the afternoon.

Hazel & Hank – Really nice handling from Hazel and good attention from Hank resulted in them being awarded their Veteran Level 2 title – well deserved. 

Jane & Quiz – A really loud noise went off in the afternoon whilst Quiz was in the ring which spooked him a little. With reassurance from Jane he recovered really well and they gained their AOE and title. 

Emma & Zara – I love watching this team work and today was no different. Zara loves her Talking Dogs Rally and with Emma they make a fabulous team.

Hazel & Yogi – Hazel has been working really hard on Yogi’s focus and it was really obvious today – well done. Not to be outdone by his ‘older brother’ Yogi gained his Pre Level 2 title.

Emma & Joey – In the morning round Joey spotted the food bowls part way round and became a little distracted. Emma patiently got his attention and they did the food bowl exercise itself very nicely resulting in an Ace round.

Ann & Stuie – This is the first time I’ve judged Ann & Stuie and it was a pleasure. Ann took a little bit of time at the start of the round to ensure Stuie was focused on her and he remained so throughout the round. Interestingly in the afternoon round, consistent handling from Ann delivered another super round from Stuie.

Jane & Edric – Edric is a sensitive dog and always aware of noises around him. Today it was noisy due to the tree cutting and Edric was a little on edge but with Jane’s encouragement at all the right times he scored two Ace rounds. 

Sam & Blu – Sam’s handling skills have come on in leaps and bounds since the first time I judged them in a puppy round. Blu was really focused today, and Sam learned a valuable lesson about taking a little more time during walk through when he almost went the wrong way which could have resulted in an NQ score – well done Sam on taking that brief moment to make the right decision regarding the route.

Sarah & Reo – this was only Reo’s second trial, but he strutted into the ring like he’d been doing it for ever! Thanks to lovely handling from Sarah they scored a very consistent 203 both morning and afternoon. Beware Sarah, Judge Jayne was wanting to pop this wee dog into her van, although not too sure what Snoopy would think about that.

Diana & Tim – Tim got quite distracted at several times during the round which could have caused frustration for some handlers. Diana was extremely patient, reacted very well and as a result they finished with two Ace scores.  

Diana & Ivy – I judged Diana & Ivy at my first judging appointment last year and it has been very nice to see their skills develop over this time. It was a pleasure to award them their Level 1 Championship today. .

Rebecca & Zack-This was Rebecca’s first trial with her older dog Zac, who is part of a successful flyball team, and has turned to talking dogs rally to complement his existing skills and also provide a foundation for her new puppy Jaxon a cockerpoo.  Both dogs did brilliantly in their first trial experience, with Zac taking a calm and steady approach, and Jaxon enjoying and responding positively to the rewarding aspects of the puppy level. These dogs have a bright future with TDR and Rebecca was grateful for the feedback from Judge Jayne for progressing her handling skills.

Judge Cris successfully juggled working multiple dogs today at the trial alongside stepping up to judge the higher levels. Rossi, a Dalmatian X was super confident and very keen to work in his VL2 rounds today despite noise distraction and ground scent distractions, successfully gaining his championship.Cal is Cris’s collie, and can find trial environments quite challenging, he’s usually worked by Gemma at TDR trials, but today Cris was able to squeeze in a training round for him which he absolutely loved and adds to his positive experiences for when Gemma can work him next time.Then we had the wee pocket rocket Dreya, a border terrier with sass and attitude, super bright and accurate in two puppy rounds today scoring Aces and adding to her achievements towards her puppy championship. Well done Cris, Rossi, Dreya and Cal.

Rookley Trial-September 2023– Blog by Jacky R

Look at this rosette haul!

What a wonderful weekend we all spent on the Isle of Wight at Lisa’s trial in Rookley. The weather was certainly a mixed bag; rather too hot on the Saturday and rather too wet on the Sunday. The wet weather certainly didn’t dampen folks’ enthusiasm though and all teams put in the usual 100% effort when working their rounds. 
The standard of work was generally high and judges were pleased to see handlers putting the dogs’ well-being first and turning rounds into training opportunities where necessary. 
It was great to catch up with our ‘regulars’ as well as welcoming newbies to live trials. The online trials really are proving to be a great introduction to the live sport. 
Particular mentions must go to these teams who achieved the elusive 210 Perfect score-

Debbie and Rumble

Ginny and Gertie

Alison and Ida

Colette and Sona

Hannah and Rubble

and Lina and Sidney(x2).

I was particularly taken by the new teams, most notably for me Jan with Quiver her retired show Toller. What an absolute gentleman he is!

Janette and George Michael overcame their initial nerves and scored a wonderful 3 Aces over the weekend.

The puppies all gained Aces over the weekend as did Sarah’s cute little crossbreed Reo.
There were just too many amazing rounds to mention Individually; well done all of you; such a joy to judge. A huge thank you to Lisa and her support team for another friendly highly successful trial. Until next time …

Fishbourne Trial 3rd September 2023- Blog by Sue Coulstock

Firstly many thanks to Jacky, Clare, Frances and all the Armchair Pets club for a lovely day.You really were a great team, helping us out in the scorching sun.

A massive well done to all my entrants- Puppy,L1, Vet L1, L2,PL2 and Vet L2. Sadly I had to NQ a couple of rounds but both teams involved will definitely benefit from experience in the ring. A big thank you must go to my L2 entrants for getting stuck in and working the course, despite the in-depth discussion during the walkthrough!

A couple of observations which may be helpful to all in the future-Wait for your dogs- There is definitely a time to allow your dog to settle and regain concentration after a distraction BUT there is also a time to move them on. Be careful that you’re not waiting too long; some dogs caught a scent, switched off and were lost. Don’t be afraid to lose a couple of points to regain attention. Think… Could I quickly snap the dog out of this situation and refocus him on me? It takes some practice but try it on walks, give a cue to look at you, reward and move on. Also work out what your dog’s distraction is- smells,noises,people,dogs? Is it a happy distraction or a scary one? Greater understanding will help you deal with these triggers and lead to more confidence for both of you when in the ring.

Outside the ring comments- Please be careful when watching rounds that you don’t comment too loudly as this is off putting for both the team working and the judge. I heard several comments ,eg ‘that’s the wrong way’, ‘oops, missed a sit’! It’s great that you notice, watch and put your training into practise but just be mindful.

Ask your judge (not your fellow competitors) during the walkthrough if you have any queries about the course and she will guide you in the right direction. Judges are approachable and actually quite nice!

Last point- don’t forget to warn your dog that something is about to happen and cue accordingly. Sometimes we’re concentrating so intently that we forget to cue our dog who then overshoots the next exercise. My mum Lyn uses the dog’s name along with AND to signal that something new is required. This just gets a little attention and engagement in preparation for the manoeuvre.Don’t forget you CAN communicate with your dog and tell him what you would like him to do!

I hope this helps a little. Finally, well done all, I was thrilled with my entrants!

Finchdean Trial-10th June,2023Blog by Jacky Ruddock

Please excuse the length of time it’s taken me to write this blog; we have just been so busy with trials at the moment, and it’s been a struggle to keep up. Our sport is really growing in popularity and membership; a fine position to be in!

The George at Finchdean is under new ownership and we were a little concerned that the new landlord may not appreciate TDR® and dogs on the land in the same way. Our concerns were, however, unfounded and the staff couldn’t have been more welcoming.

The weather was rather over kind, and it was stifling hot- even for me! The paddling pools, shady gazebos and never-ending supply of drinks ensured that both dogs and humans lived to tell the tale of a wonderful day.

Despite the heat, there were many beautiful rounds attesting to the teams’ enjoyment of the sport in all conditions.

Particular mentions must go to-

Steve and Bramble, a lovely little Cavapoo who is eager to please his handler. The team worked a beautiful Puppy round in the heat.

In Level 1 Tanya Stickland demonstrated some skilled handling; allowing her beautiful GSD Fraser to take his time to process what he was being asked to do and achieving two Aces as a result.

It was good to see some of our long-term competitors now entering Veteran rounds and achieving Ace scores. Emma with Lucy, who now struggles to hear commands, worked 2 beautifully smooth rounds in Veteran PL2 scoring 201 and 196. 

We had several near perfect 209 scores during the day-Lisa and Finlay, Carole and Tanner and Gillian and Dottie.

We also had two Perfect scores-Gillian and Dottie in Level 3 and Hannah and Rubble in Level 1- no mean achievement. Well done folks!

Thanks go to Jacky B and the Armchair Pets team who all worked hard to run such a friendly, successful trial.

Isle of Wight- 8th July 2023- Blog by Jacky Ruddock

I was thrilled to be invited to judge a Mini Trial for Tessa’s club members at Barbara’s beautiful venue. This was my first time judging on the island in the rain which pestered us on and off all morning before the sun broke through the clouds in the afternoon. Despite the rain, teams generally worked well and achieved some impressive scores.

Special mentions must go to the following teams- Tessa and Cora- when you teach others you are left with little time to train your own dog. Despite her nervousness in front of her pupils, Tessa achieved her Championship with her little Cavalier who trotted around the ring in style.

Ann and Charlie- Ann took on board my advice in the morning and adopted a looser style of working in her second round. This led to Charlie prancing around the ring alongside his mum and achieving an impressive Ace rosette.

It was lovely to see Linda and Molly back competing following Linda’s series of medical issues. The bionic woman pulled off 2 Aces despite working crutch-free!

Sharon and Isla impressed me in their PL2 rounds. Isla does not always pay the closest attention to her mum when distracted but on Saturday she certainly did. Sharon made the sensible decision to withdraw from the bonus exercise when Isla became overstimulated by Clara’s Roadkill toy. This was a great example of a handler considering their dog’s needs and adapting as necessary.

Liz handled her two  cheeky Schnauzers beautifully this weekend and relaxed into a more casual style which paid off and resulted in 4 Aces.

There are far too many splendid rounds to mention so please don’t be disheartened if your name doesn’t appear here. The standard of work was so high and there were no NQs. A big thanks to Tessa, Pauline and the team for your hard work resulting in a successful friendly and relaxed trial.

Risby Trial- July 2023 Blog by host and competitor Lucy Dawson

Well another Risby trial has come and gone – as usual, we had some fun with the weather, this time having to manage with some ridicously strong winds gusting around pretty much the whole weekend. In spite of the challenges to the paperwork that this produced, the distraction to dogs working rounds whilst collapsing gazebos were rescued, and the necessity for some novel paperweights more usually known as baked bean tins, I think it’s fair to say a good time was had by all!

Thanks must go first to our lovely judges who all worked so hard and produced some great courses for us to run. Special thanks also to Steve, Bill, Deirdre, Emma and everyone who helped to set up the rings beforehand and take them down at the end – I can’t say how wonderful it is to see everyone pitch in to help, as I haven’t got the backing of a club so I really do rely on the helpfulness of the TD Rally family!

It was lovely to see many of our regular friends again, and several newer faces doing extremely well too. There were so many rosettes being handed out I must apologise if I’ve missed any in particular. I must mention Lindsay-Reef gained his VL3 Championship on the Saturday. Lindsay worked beautifully on both days in spite of fairly severe pain from a fall on the Sunday morning – now that’s dedication! We also had Perfect rounds from Hap, Emma, Nicola and Bill.

Running the trial is good in many ways as you are sitting ringside and can see lots of lovely work going on, but of course you get distracted by the paperwork and miss a lot as well. There was great teamwork happening throughout the trial, with so many lovely rounds completed.

Puppy Titles were also gained by Steve & Bramble, and Frances & Tallulah, and Puppy Championships were gained by Frances & Tallulah and Jill & Pepper. Other Level 1 Titles included Christine with Micah and Nahum, and Dave & Mungo. Level 3 Titles were gained by Dawn & Sherlock, and Sara with both DJ and Lexi. Dawn deserves a special mention as Sherlock is not the easiest dog to work, and I’ve watched with admiration how well she has handled him right through from Level 1. Jill & Pepper moved up to Level 1 on the second day and showed what a great foundation they have built with some excellent results.

Thankyou everyone who supported the trial.Hope to see you all again in January!

Special mentions must go to two new junior handlers Daisy Mae and Lexi, who very wisely took their first two rounds as training rounds, and took the feedback on board so successfully that they got fantastic scores for the rest of the weekend, leaving Daisy & Rocco with a Puppy Title, and Lexi & Fleur just needing one more round for their Level 1 Title.We had so many Titles and Championships I’m bound to have forgotten someone, but I know our spaniels did well, with my own Katie gaining her Level 3 Title in spite of a certain amount of silliness about whether she knew how to stand, and youngster Rory bouncing his way to an enthusiastic Level 1 Title!

ATalking Dogs Rally – Online trial June 2023 – Blog by Jayne Crowther

It is very reassuring to see that the concept of the online trials appears to be gathering increased support from the Talking Dogs Rally folks across the UK.  The June 2023 online trial had a total of 85 entries with the Level 1 class alone having some 39 entries.  There were no entries submitted for Veteran Level 3.

Regrettably In the Level 1 class there were 2 NQs, and it is always sad for a Judge to have to NQ anyone whether that be in an online or live trial situation, the impact is the same on both judge and competitor.  More often than not, handlers may not be aware of the things they are doing that could cause them to receive an NQ score, and whilst it is disappointing to enter a trial and receive an NQ, there is always a learning experience that can be taken forward to future trials.

Teams can insure as far as possible against the possibility of an NQ score through understanding the general rules and performing the exercises correctly.  It seems that it might be useful for this blog to explain some of the reasons that are not quite as obvious for when teams might be given an NQ score;

• Excessive Barking (EB) defined as a continuous outburst lasting 3 seconds or more, or repeated outbursts.  

• Nipping/Biting.

• Use of harsh physical or verbal corrections.

• Performing 2 stations out of order (Puppy and L1) – or performing 1 station out of order (PL2 and above) – termed as going Off Course – and mostly involves handlers simply forgetting the route and walking past 2 or 1 stations on the course – this can be avoided by using your walk-through time wisely and walking the course as many times as possible during the 10 minute walk through – or before you film your online round.

• Insufficient points achieved during the round – this can often be due to handler errors when the dog does not fully understand what is being asked of them, and the errors of additional cues, tight leads, out of position, luring and lead prompts are rapidly accruing.

• Wearing a treat bag in the ring, or having food in the hand to entice the dog to complete an exercise, or using the lead as a motivator/reward for the dog.

Those are just a selection of reasons for NQ, full details can be found in the manuals.

During this online trial, there were some specific exercises that teams struggled to perform correctly.

In Level 1 the Pivot and Pivot 1 Step caused quite a few problems, with a number of teams performing both exercises in much the same way.  Whilst Talking Dogs Rally does aim to have a more flowing methodology to the exercises, the pivot exercise descriptions are looking for a “sharp 90° turn” and the pivot 1 step exercise is looking for the “sharp 90° turn …… followed by 1 clear step”.  Have a think about whether you have clearly trained these exercises and if not, tweak your performance so that you can avoid being marked Station Not Completed (SNC) which loses 5 points. An important point to remember with pivot exercises is that your dog should move at the same time as you and not afterwards. Please ensure that you command your dog before you move to avoid a loss of 2 points for a Failure to Move.

In Pre-Level 2 and above, the performance of the Call Front signs does change from how it is permitted to be performed in Puppy and Level 1/Vet Level 1.  In PL2 and above, the call front exercises do not permit the handler to take steps backwards in order to get the dog into the correct front position.  Again, this would lead to a SNC mark and a loss of 5 points.

Rewards and Praise

Talking Dogs Rally has the most enabling ethos for teams.  Do take time to have a look at how your dog is responding to you during your video rounds and see if you can identify where you might have paused a moment to provide a reward;  touch/tickle, food, or playing with a toy.  These are all free at every static exercise and at each static element, so do make use of them if your dog needs them.  Alternatively, an Extra Reward (XR) can be given at any time during the round and will only lose the team 2 points.  Judges do enjoy seeing handlers provide Extra Rewards rather than seeing a dog flatten or struggle during a rally round– it is absolutely OK to pause and take a moment to re-set both you and your dog.

The online trials are a fabulous way to get ready for live trials, as you can review your performance against your scoresheet and see what you need to work on.  Thank you for entering, and well done to everyone.

Northallerton Weekend-3/4th June,2023-blog by Sue Coulstock

Firstly thank you to Jo for inviting us up to your wonderful venue at Northallerton. Jacky and I had a fabulous time in such relaxing surroundings.On Saturday we had a small group of new and super keen teams to show the TD ropes to.

We had some fun in the morning with Sue, practicing turns and sideswaps, moving onto some more advanced and definitely testing stuff in the afternoon with Jacky. (Bonuses and cones)!

The weather was glorious and the team work was amazing and inspiring, all teams working hard in the sunshine, with plenty of time to cool off between sessions.

On Sunday we had a TD Rally competition-

Sue judged Level 1, Puppy and Veteran level 1 and some Level 3. Christen Brown joined us for Sunday too and set to work with shadow judging and progressing her TD judging portfolio along side Jacky and Sue.

The standard of teams in the ring was high, the ground was uneven and challenging, especially when your judge pops in a 360 circle on a slight incline!

A couple of notes from Sue-Don’t be scared to lose a point or two along the way if your needs some encouragement. Don’t nag rather encourage your dogs, reward when appropriate. Remember you’re a team, don’t expect your dog to do all the work.

Be sure to show each part of the station requirements, so if it’s a call front, right finish, be sure to show a pausing stand in-front before sending around and allow your dog to settle in a sit before you move off.

There was some fabulous team work in the ring and everyone looked to be having fun.

Level 2 and 3 standards were high and considering the fairly new comers to the sport progression was evident, with really confident and happy handlers in the ring, giving us happy bouncy dogs willing to give it their best for us all.

Everyone stuck around and supported each other in true TD spirit. Thanks Jo for the wonderful BBQ on Sunday….. and yes Sue did eat!! 

Northallerton Trial-14th May, 2023- blog by Cristen Brown

Sunday 14th May saw us back at Northallerton for a mini trial, once again hosted by Jo at Positively Canine.

This time we only had level 1, veteran level 1 and puppy as I was the only judge which is common at a mini trial. We were once again spoilt by the microclimate that seems to surround this lovely venue and the sun shone (Mental note – take and use suncream next time!).

We had 8 teams working level 1 morning and afternoon, 4 doing veteran level 1 and 1 puppy. It was lovely to welcome 4 new teams to Talking Dogs Rally – entering your first trial can be very daunting, but everyone is always welcoming and encouraging, so if you aren’t sure do give it a go.

Congratulations to Jane and Edric who scored a 210 perfect, a very well deserved achievement. Edric was a little worried by noises in the distance but calm, clear handing from Jane backing up all their training meant they came away with the sought after 210 perfect rosette.

It was great to see that returning teams that I judged at the last trial had taken on board feedback and were even better this time – well done.

Thanks again to Emma and Sarah for helping with course change and to Emma for all the fab photos. Also thanks to Debs for doing the running and keeping me topped up with coffee.

Isle of Mull weekend trial-6/7 May 2023-blog by Jacky R.

Well what an amazing weekend we all spent on the stunningly beautiful Isle of Mull. I can honestly say that we have never rallied in such a picturesque setting as the commanding Duart Castle provided the backdrop for our work.The castle stands on a high crag at the end of a peninsula jutting out into the Sound of Mull and rally rounds were worked as visitors trudged up to the castle and ferries sailed by. Judge Amie and other locals have a keen interest in ferry spotting and provided a running commentary for us as they named and described the pertinent features of each one!

We were so happy to welcome Jacky B and David who drove 1,000 mile round trip to join us and Emma from Durham with Zara, Wilf and Joey.

Moira from Paws by The Loch has trained her folks well and the standard of work was pleasing when dogs and handlers settled into their joint rhythm. There were lots of distractions for dogs including old mole diggings, rabbit droppings and a cattle grid but, nevertheless, this was a fantastic venue for training and working. Moira had mown the grass and prepared the area so efficiently that it was perfect for all sizes and breeds.

Now to the teams- Eve worked 4 of her rescue dogs and, over the course of the weekend, improved dramatically as she took on board advice given by judges and experienced handlers. The fact that she worked on Sunday whilst dressed as a unicorn sums up Eve’s personality perfectly- she’s as mad as a box of frogs but just such a fun person to spend time with. She’s also a pretty good dog handler!

Maz and her Wheaten Terrier, Dillon were a joy to judge as they progressed effortlessly around the ring achieving an Outstanding and an Ace.

Julie and her cute little Poppy improved dramatically after watching and heeding advice and they achieved an Ace for their afternoon round.

Tricia and her big boy Greyling approached the courses with a huge grin and pulled off 2 great rounds. Happy owner, happy dog!

After initial nerves Jenny and Collie Breagha worked well and achieved 2 Outstanding rosettes. Jenny even remembered to breathe!

Kelly and Jujubee, a beautiful black Cane Corso, achieved 2 well deserved Aces as they worked carefully and accurately. This huge pup managed to look graceful and demonstrate good rear end awareness despite her developing body.

Sarah and Whippet pup Mouse were a winning team and,over 2 days, achieved 2 Outstanding scores. What a bundle of joy Mouse is!

Moira worked so hard with her cheeky Border Terrier, Ray who sometimes struggles in the presence of other dogs. He pulled of a cracking final round on Sunday and earned an Ace. More importantly he had a happy weekend and was able to relax and watch the world go by.

Some teams struggled with the environment and dogs were either spooked or lacked focus. Please don’t be disheartened folks if it was not your day to go home with a rosette, next time it will be. Try to practice in different environments and get your dogs used to the challenge of distractions.

Well done to those people who achieved Titles and AOEs; you have every reason to be proud.

I have to say a big thank you to all who worked hard to pull the trial together, most particularly Moira, Jayne and Amie. I want to make a special mention of Ann and Emma who are such an amazing support to all of us; we really do value you two!

Talking Dogs Rally® is not just about working your dogs and having fun it’s also about friendship. What started out as a hobby, has become for many of us, a group of friends who have got to know each other on a deeper level and have become extended family sharing good times and supporting during the challenging moments. The family grows as we add new trials and areas to our calendar and Mull will become a regular venue for us. We really hope that next year some of you will take a holiday on the island and join us to trial.

Thankyou so much Fiona for allowing me to stay in your home and enjoy the view of Calgary Beach, you are so kind. I am genuinely touched by the welcome and generosity I received on the island and I can’t wait to return and catch up with my new bunch of friends. Jacky

Elham Trial-23rd April 2023-blog by Tanya Butler

Many thanks to Sue, Lyn and the Elham team for asking me to judge and putting on such a lovely day for us……..let’s gloss over the weather shall we? I always feel like the Elham trial is the ‘start’ of our season and they have kicked us off very well! 

I think its fair to say we had mixed fortunes in the tennis court……the weather was certainly problematic for some…..we had everything from the ‘rain, what rain?’ dogs to the ‘Oh my goodness you can’t possible expect me to sit in this!!!’ types! Surprisingly, this wasn’t always very breed specific either – the usual supects bounced around the ring without batting an eyelid (labs, Irish Water Spaniels etc), whilst some didn’t appreciate the al fresco shower at all (cavapoos, Sweep!!) but then Princess Katie of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel came out…….. Now, I happen to have a few Cavs and I know exactly what they think of rain, wetness etc, so imagine my surprise when little Katie came out and worked her little socks off!! What a super little star she is! 

Jacky and Clara (photo by Julia)

Generally the standard of work was very good and it was lovely to see how well the dogs and handlers coped with the courses and the conditions. 

Some of the Level 3 handlers unfortunately missed a station therefore NQ-ing themselves – watch out for those paired stations!! Interestingly, I watched every single one of them walk the course and ‘act out’ the very station that they then walked past, right at the end of the course! 

All in all, a super start to what is shaping up to be a super year of TD Rally!

TDR Mini Trial- Northallerton 16th April 2023

On Sunday 16th April we headed to Northallerton to enjoy a day of Talking Dogs Rally hosted by Jo at Positively Canine. For some teams this was their first trial and for others it was their first outdoor trial which of course brings with it lots of distractions and can be quite daunting.

When it became a little too much for a couple of dogs it was great to see people switching to training rounds and using food to motivate their dog and ensure they had a very positive experience of being in the ring.It was lovely to welcome new teams to Talking Dogs Rally as well as catching up with lots of familiar faces.

We had two rings with Jayne judging pre level 2, veteran pre level 2, level 2 and veteran level 2 and Cris judging level 1, veteran level 1 and puppy. We were treated to nice weather and were kept busy all day with 25 teams working. It’s fantastic to see training and hard work paying off and today was no different. Hazel with Yogi has been entering trials for several years now and each trial due to their training they go from strength to strength. Jayne had food bowls in her afternoon courses which did catch some of the dogs out, but not Yogi who was super focused on Hazel and didn’t even notice the food bowls.Following rounds, where possible I always try to give brief feedback and it was great to see so many teams taking that on board and improving in their afternoon round.

Special mentions to Sam with Blu in puppy and Sarah and Ted in level 1 who both came into their afternoon rounds more confidently with great handling skills resulting in both achieving Ace rosettes.Ring 2 (the level 2s) were finished sooner than I was, so a personal massive thank you to Jayne from me for waiting for me to finish to allow time for me to take Rossi into the ring and do his two veteran level 2 rounds. We really enjoyed our time in the ring and I love that as a TDR judge you are actively encouraged to participate with your dog.

Congratulations to everyone whether you did a training round or gained rosettes and titles, it was a lovely day and several people commented to me how friendly a Talking Dogs Rally trial is.

Special shout out to Gemma, Emma and Sarah who helped out with table stewarding, changing courses at lunchtime, taking my dogs out and taking the rings down at the end. Trials really do rely on people helping out, so if you are able to do so please check with the trial host to see if there is anything you can do to help- written by Cristen Brown

TDR Mini Trial – Newcastle Sat 28th January 2023

On Saturday 28th Jan 2023, I headed up to one of my favourite cities in the UK – Newcastle Upon Tyne, delighted to have been invited to judge the first mini trial of 2023 on behalf of Ruff Diamond Dog Training. The majority of the teams are clients of Talking Dogs Rally judge Cristen Brown, and this is the second trial that they have entered.  I was very pleased to see that everyone had taken on board feedback from the previous mini trial regarding handling skills in the ring, and more importantly everyone was much more relaxed this time and able to enjoy the experience of working in partnership with their amazing dogs.

The courses I designed were more challenging than the first trial, incorporating Spirals, Slaloms and some quirky directional route changes to enable a lovely heelwork flow in this fabulous venue.  Every team stepped up to this challenge with great enthusiasm and a healthy dose of fun.

Special mention has to be for Vicky, who worked her three dogs throughout the day including Edin who belongs to Vicky’s friend.  Anyone who works multiple dogs in any sport will appreciate how challenging switching between dogs can be, and it was wonderful to see how Vicky intuitively makes small adaptations to her handling skills to suit the different personalities of each dog.  Despite feeling that she might end up doing a training round with Edin in L1, Vicky actually achieved a much-deserved Outstanding score followed by an Ace and their Level 1 Title.  This set Vicky up with the confidence to achieve with her own two dogs, with Ace scores, an Award of Excellence and a Level 1 Title for Mella, and Ace scores, an Award of Excellence and Puppy title for Rouggie.

Nicola and Bronson achieved Ace scores, an Award of Excellence and their Level 1 title, and this is the result of consistent handling skills and effective support that Nicola provides for Bronson throughout their rounds.

Beth and Poppy achieved Ace scores and their Level 1 title, and it was fabulous to see Beth looking more confident this time around, it makes a real difference when you know that you and your dog can do something and you take that knowledge into the ring with you.

Lauren and Jasper are very consistent in their approach to rally, and they were rewarded with Ace scores, and Award of Excellence and their Level 1 title.

Sarah and Ted were a little hesitant in their first round, but totally smashed the second round, achieving Ace scores, an Award of Excellence and gaining their Level 1 title.

Sirja and Daisy worked two beautiful rounds with clear cueing and fabulous engagement from Daisy, achieving Ace scores and their Level 1 title.

Gemma worked Bessie in Level 1 and gave us much entertainment with Bessie’s approach to rally, achieving an Outstanding and an Ace score this time around.  Gemma also worked Rab in Veteran Level 1, and achieved Ace Scores in two fabulous rounds with Rab super keen to get into the rally ring and very engaged to work.  It is of note that neither Bessie or Rab belong to her, both dogs absolutely love working with Gemma. 

It was so lovely to see that Lina had travelled up from London with her three fabulous dogs; Sydney, Hiccup and Phoebe, and they were rewarded with Ace Scores, a perfect score for Sydney in Veteran Level 1, and a perfect score for Phoebe in Puppy.

All of these teams can be very proud of their achievements thus far, I saw consistent handling skills and fun relationships that will provide every team with the solid foundations to continue through all the levels available in Talking Dogs Rally.  Cristen and I are looking for a suitable venue in the north to offer a summer outdoor trial, so keep an eye on the website for details.

Well done everyone, it was an absolute pleasure to be a part of your second mini trial.  Keep Rallying.

Important TDR® Updates

Just before Christmas the judges held a meeting to discuss all things TDR®. Copious amounts of coffee and cake were consumed, and useful discussions took place. I outline below the amendments/clarifications to rules and regulations and other matters.

  • Finances

TDR® does not aim to make a profit but rather break even. Thank you to everyone who has paid their Annual Maintenance Fees; these will go towards vital running costs. Please rest assured that you are all eligible to enter any online and live trials this year whether you were in a position to pay or not.

  • Progression from Puppy to L1

Currently a puppy cannot progress from Puppy to L1 until reaching a year old. We recognise that it is possible to complete your Puppy Championship quickly and then be unable to enter trials for a few months. Puppies mature at different rates, and some may be ready to enter L1 as soon as they have become Puppy Champion. In future, if this situation occurs, please speak to Jacky Ruddock who will consider whether your puppy can enter L1 under 1 year of age.

  • NQ for Eliminating in the ring

In future if a dog cocks his leg or a bitch squat AT ANY TIME IN THE RING this will be an NQ REGARDLESS of whether urine is passed.

  • Circle sizes  

The size of the circle is dependent on the size of the dog but it should be big enough to enable the dog to maintain constant forward movement and not pivot on the spot.  

  • Side-Swap Turn

t was agreed to add a second Level 2 Side-Swap Turn in PL2 onwards allowing more flexibility and opportunity to move the dog to right-working in PL2, L2 and L3. This effectively means that you may encounter 3 x Side Swap Turns in a course!

  • Use of a Circle to execute a turn

Judge Amie has invented a new way to turn left/right using a circle which may or may not be paired with a turn. This was trialled ‘up north’ and worked brilliantly. We will put out a video demonstrating this move shortly. 

P.S. Jacky R was originally sceptical but after watching teams execute this move now loves it!

  • Food Bowls

Food Bowls when they feature in both the course and appropriate bonus will always contain food (unlike KC Rally). They are not there to catch teams out but rather to add a level of difficulty and training challenge. Remember that, as long as you attempt the station, you can leave the area quickly if you are struggling. If a food bowl appears in the bonus, you have the choice to decline executing. Bowls will always be securely closed.

  • Marking L1 Call Fronts

If the dog sits in front, and the handler then cues the stand the judge will mark 1 x XP and 1 x AC for each command given for the stand.  If the dog automatically sits and the handler does not cue and gain the ‘stand’ then the station will be marked as SNC as not all the elements of the station have been completed.

  • Level 2/3 Stations

Judges acknowledge that some of the wording on the station descriptors can be interpreted in different ways. Notes below will hopefully help clear up some misunderstandings.

  1. L2-2 (s)-Angled Recall – the handler should reach the station and turn 180 degrees to face the next sign, NOT facing the dog.
  • L2-14 Call front, sit forward – if the dog is working on the right side, the handler should move to the left of the dog so that the dog continues working on the right side.
  • Jump Height – this has been removed as a requirement and the judge should ask the handler what height they wish the bar to be placed for their dog.
  • L3-14/15 Right/Left turn, 2 steps moving down forward – the two steps start when the handler’s torso is turned and facing the sign direction.
  • L3-16/17 Call front U-turn left/right forward – the handler should move to the left or right of the dog so that the dog remains working on the side they were working prior to the station.
  • L3/B1 – Retrieve Right Finish – if the dog sits before being sent for the article this is an SNC.
  • Trainers/Clubs listed on the website

Please let Jacky R know if you have knowledge of any of the trainers/clubs currently listed on the website that are no longer actively teaching TDR®

  • Moving forward in our sport

We are not currently in a position to officially launch a Level 4 but we will be introducing some special classes to trial proposed exercises. We may incorporate Hoopers/Agility Exercises. These should be great fun! 

  • Junior Handling 

We are eager to get young people involved in the sport. If you have children over the age of 7 years who enjoy working the family dog, why not consider getting them involved?

  • Videos

We will shortly be releasing some short clips demonstrating individual stations being performed. Keep your eyes open on the website and FB.

We like to think that we are all very approachable; if you ever have questions/queries about execution of stations etc. just get in touch!

Happy New Year all; hope to see you at a trial soon.

Mini Northern Trial- December 2022

Mini trials are perfect for introducing new teams to rally and today 12 new teams had their first experience of a Talking Dogs Rally trial. We also had 2 established teams working towards their championships titles.

The trial was held indoors at the community centre where I run my classes so was a familiar venue to most teams. This can help put teams a little at ease, but nerves still always pay a huge part at your first trial – we have all been there! As trial host and trainer of all teams, bar one, I was excited and also nervous on their behalf!

Judge Jayne started the day with her judges brief immediately putting the teams at ease ensuring that they enjoyed their time in the ring. Jayne set two lovely flowing courses that allowed the teams to show off their training and loose lead walking skills.

In the heat of the moment a several teams were confused between the stand in front for call fronts and sits for recalls. Remember that your walk through gives you the opportunity to ask the judge any questions you have about the stations. 

I was pleased with the handling skills showed by all teams, adapting to the needs of their dogs, whether that was taking time to ensure they were focused at the start, taking point losses by rewarding to motivate their dog or toy play between the round and the bonus exercise.

I love that all breeds and crosses are welcome in Talking Dogs Rally. Today we had a lovely variety including a bulldog, German Shepherd, Scottish Terrier, cockapoos, Australian labradoodles, labradors, Bedlington cross, Border Collie and Beardie crosses. 

Congratulations to Wendy and Bill who made the journey up to Newcastle and gained their puppy Championship title. Also congratulations to Martin and Daisy who got their Level 1 Championship. 

Massive thank you to Jayne for coming up to judge for us and for making it such an enjoyable day for everyone. Also, thank you to Gemma for preparing all the score sheets in advance of the day. 

Today I am a very proud trainer and love that TDR ‘up north’ is going from strength to strength. Looking forward to our next trial.

by Cristen

York Trial-26/27November 2022

It would be fair to say that the introduction of a different venue for our first winter trial in the North provided some degree of challenge for many of the teams taking part. 

The ability to be able to work in differing settings and environments is one of the reasons that I love Rally as a consistent training aid for both me and my own dog. This provides us both with the necessary resilience to deal with whatever is thrown at us in real life, be that out on a country walk, travelling on a ferry, visiting a friend’s house, visits to the vet, amongst so many other ordinary matters that humans and dogs have to negotiate on a daily basis. 

For some teams the distractions of the venue got the better of them, and undoubtably handler nerves were a big factor in this. 

Talking Dogs Rally is the most enabling sport that I know, with a variety of rewards that can be deployed to enable teams to settle into working the round and meet the challenge in a supportive way. 

Some teams had a clear reward strategy that heaped benefits at this trial, combining play/food and touch which inspired me as both a Judge and a Competitor during this trial. I will definitely be looking at incorporating this into my own handling and making small tweaks for future trials. 

Many of the teams have only recently moved up into Pre-Level 2 and it is accepted that this is quite a big step up in Talking Dogs Rally. There are more complex exercises that require clear lines of communication. This requires the foundation exercises from Puppy and Level 1 to be solid, together with great lead handling skills, and undoubtably Judges are expecting much more from teams at this level. Perhaps, the less said about the dreaded and controversial food bowls the better, save for saying they are an exercise that will sometimes feature in courses at this level! 

All of the teams can be rightly proud of themselves for taking on the challenge of this trial, and I would especially commend the following teams who demonstrated effective communication and perfect timing of food, touch and play rewards;  Lina and her three superb wee dogs; Sidney and Hiccup in Level 1 and Phoebe in Puppy level – An absolute joy to Judge and stars of the future. 

Emma and Joey showed real maturity in Level 1, and considering the start that Joey had in life this is testimony to Emma and her intuitive handling skills. 

Mandy and Molly pulled off a fabulous PL2 round that even had Judge Jacky commending Mandy on her handling skills. As long as I have known Mandy, she has always put a lot of work into enabling Molly, and her previous dog Todd, to take part in Rally. Mandy always takes on board feedback, and then acts on it to improve for next time. 

Special mentions go to- Ann Fawcett with “our” Dexter who achieved their Veteran Level 3 Championship. Ann has been a part of the Talking Dogs Rally family for many years, she is always supportive to every trial host, Judge and team, so it is wonderful to see this team achieve the highest veteran level which is very well deserved. 

Jayne and Snoopy also achieved their Veteran Level 3 Championship; a thoroughly well deserved reward for their hard work and consistent training.

A huge thank you to Judge Cristen Brown and Gemma Kermode for being the most efficient trial secretary and table steward combination that I have ever known. A massive thankyou to Jacky and Amie who travelled a long distance, for which we are grateful. Congratulations also to you both gaining Championships; Amie and Margot at Level 1 and Jacky and Clara at Puppy Level.

A final word of thanks goes to Jayne for being a fabulous trial host and handling all that is involved with preparing, setting up and tidying up a trial. Well done team!

By Jayne, Cristen and Jacky

Hailsham Mini Trial 19 November 2022

The weather was kind to us in Hailsham on Saturday and we were able to hold an outdoor mini trial without wearing waterproofs! This was the second mini trial hosted by Lyn at Smart Mutts and it was heartening to see the improvement in the teams which worked last time.

Lyn handled her three dogs beautifully and they all bounced happily around the ring. Jack managed to pull out a good second round after a period of settling and Pip demonstrated a mixture of wonderful obedience style working coupled with her unique individuality! Josie was a joy to watch.

David achieved two Aces which earned him an Award of Excellence. He will, however, never live down the lack of sit in present position in his bonus exercise! Well done David and George.

Vicky worked Ethel smoothly with skill and achieved two Aces which earned her an Award of Excellence as well as her Puppy Title. Great wotk Team Rottie!

Caroline and Sweep could only stay for one round but they made the most of it and bounced their way to an Ace. Little Sweep resembled a bunny at times as she negotiated the uneven surface and damp grass!

Monty the Terrier was worked in one round by his owner, Claire and in another round alongside junior handler Isabelle. Monty is a typical teenager and as such has moments of intense concentration combined with bursts of independent working! Both Claire and Isabelle are sympathetic to Monty’s needs and style of working and they achieved an impressive Outstanding and Good. It was great to watch Isabelle conquer her nerves and get the best out of Monty. Well done Isabelle you should be really proud of your achievement!

Eileen and Maggie the Bouvier really impressed me as this was their first time competing. Coming away with two Outstanding rosettes is no mean feat.I’m looking forward to watching this team progress.

Last but certainly not least I need to mention Kat and Dudley the Dogue de Bordeaux and Taylor her Rottie pup. Kat was understandably nervous in her first round with the massive character Dudley but she settled down, worked on her handling skills and ultimately achieved well with both dogs. keep up the great work Kat. Watching dogs like Dud and Taylor work their way round a course is the reason I enjoy TDR® so much!

Thankyou Lyn and all for a great day full of fun; looking forward to you all joining us at trials in the future. Jacky

Team Taylor

Team Dudley
Teams Monty and Judge Jacky
Team George
Team Maggie

Elham Mini Trial-20 October, 2022

Our little Otis-brains as well as beauty!

Elham Dog Training Club kindly invited members of Folkestone Dog Club to join them for a fun evening of TD Rally. We made the most of the last couple of hours and held the Level 3 class outside. The weather was kind as were the sheep in the adjacent field!

Alison and Ida managed a beautiful 209 round only losing the 1 point when Ida’s excitement causd her to knock the station! Congratulations to Lindsay and Reef who gained their Level 3 Championship; a real achievement.

The other rounds were judged indoors. Alison and Ida scored a perfect 210 for their Level 2 round with Sue; this really is a winning team. Diane and Molly gained their Level 1 Title despite Molly being a little nervous of her unfamiliar surroundings. Both Amanda and Otis and Maxine and Oakley achieved AOEs for Level 1; they have worked so hard to produce such happy little working dogs. This was the first time competing at a live trial for Ric and Pru and June and Jasper and the teams worked beautifully making their trainers proud.

I love judging mini trials as they are always small friendly and supportive occasions demonstrating what TDR® is all about.

Thanks to Lyn, Sue and Betty for your superb hosting skills. Jacky R

Brenzett Trial October 2022

What a beautiful Autumn day greeted us at Brenzett Village Hall in Kent; the sun shone, the early morning dew was heavy and there was a nip in the air. 

Tanya and Rhia managed to judge a total of 44 rounds in a morning including three perfect 210 scores. Well done Lina and Sidney who achieved not just one but two perfect scores in their Level 1 rounds. Bill and Mitzi rounded their Level One career off with a perfect score to complete their Level 1 Championship, well done Bill.

It was good to see teams from outside Kent including Diane and her Papillons and Chinese Crested, three great little characters! 

It’s always great to catch up with our long term rally friends, particularly when we haven’t done so in a while. Frances and Keena and Gill and Molly each achieved two Aces for their rounds and displayed text book handling as always.

A special mention must go to Guy and Luca making their return to TDR following a long break. Guy remained calm and measured whilst handing Luca who is a typically exuberant Labrador, well done Team Grist. 

A big thank you to Steve, Tanya, Rhia and your Ditton DTC support team, looking forward to next year.  Jacky

Isle of Wight Trial, 10/11 September,2022

Northallerton Trial-13/14 August, 2022

Let’s Go Manor Trial, August 6 2022- Blog by Judge Jacky Burden 

Well the sun certainly shone! Huge well done to all those taking part who showed such care & attention to their dogs, making sure their welfare was more important than results. It truly was a delight to see people turning to training rounds because their dog was stressed or confused or hot or just too distracted. 

Ring 1 wasn’t easy, with distractions on 3 sides & some good sniffy places too! However there were some fantastic results. Gill & Molly with a Perfect 210 & their L1 Championship & Hannah & Rubble, also with a Perfect 210 & their Puppy Championship, as well as many Awards of Excellence & Titles. 

There were several teams on just their 2nd trial, plus some venturing to a live TDR trial for the 1st time. We had 6 month pups & veterans & all shapes & sizes – so good to see. Some handlers were feeling really nervous but hopefully will feel more at ease in the future. 

I loved seeing Rogue & Lucy Lulu, both dogs who have been worried, at times in the past, working in a relaxed manner & with confidence to gain their VL1 Awards of Excellence & Titles. These were also achieved by rather newer teams Coral & Charlie in VL1 and Clare & Isla in L1. It was great to see a few novice teams who did not gain qualifying rounds in the morning, go on to achieve them in the afternoon. 

Amazingly, the signs which caused the most difficulty were the 270s with several teams executing them in the wrong direction! A slightly angled route to the Finish sign, also caused some teams a loss of points. This sign needs to be passed within 60cms/2 ft, as with all the others. 

Well done to everyone – those who titled, those with rosettes, those who swapped to training rounds & those who coaxed their dogs round the course in the heat. It was done in true TDR style! 

Overall, a super trial. Huge thanks to Dorothea & her team & other participants who helped with ring stewarding, etc.

Northallerton Trial – 30th and 31st July 2022by Judge Cristen

Sunday 31st July was my first Talking Dogs Rally judging appointment and I had a great day.

Since competing in my first trail in 2017, where I really had no idea what I was doing, but absolutely loved it, I was on a mission to get more people taking part in Talking Dogs Rally ‘up north’ and to work towards becoming a judge. I was delighted last year when Jayne contacted me to see if I’d be interested in co-hosting a trial at Positively Canine’s fabulous venue in Northallerton (Thanks Jo for giving us exclusive access for the weekend). This was our second trial here and although I’d only met some people in April it was like being back with old friends – Talking Dogs Rally really is a friendly sport. 

So, the time had come for me to judge my first rounds; as I welcomed Jo and Gilbert into the ring, for their puppy round, I turned round to see Jacky, Amie and Jayne all observing – no pressure there then! Gilbert kept Jo on her toes and had a great time in the ring successfully achieving their Puppy Championship.

We had all weathers throughout the day, starting off in the rain (I was glad I’d invested in a waterproof clipboard) and finishing with me needing to put suncream on. The afternoon round proved a little trickier for most teams, but it was also everyone’s fourth round of the weekend and it had got a little warmer.

It was a great day with some fabulous teams, many of which had also been at the April trial. I was very impressed with the improvement throughout in both the handlers’ confidence and teamwork in only a few months, well done to you all. 

A few thank yous are in order. Firstly thanks to Emma, Gemma and Jane who helped me set up and take down my courses, you are stars. To Jacky, Amie and Jayne for making me feel so welcome and for the good laughs throughout the day. Finally an extra special thank you to Jayne for suggesting the collaboration, for all the hard work you put into organising the trial and for your encouragement – I look forward to co-hosting more trials with Jayne over the coming months, so watch this space!



Northallerton Trial – 30th and 31st July 2022 by Judge Jayne

This was the second trial hosted at the amazing venue of Positively Canine based near Northallerton, North Yorkshire, and it was equally successful as the first.

The weather changed frequently and one moment we had wet weather gear on, the next we were applying sun tan lotion!

This trial venue mostly brings together rally teams from both Positively Canine clients and also Ruff Diamond Dog Training clients who are based in Newcastle Upon Tyne, and it was especially lovely to see Sara Davies travel up from Lincolnshire to enter this trial with her two amazing dogs Lexi and DJ. 

When I first started working my own dogs in Talking Dogs Rally, I thoroughly enjoyed watching experienced rally teams work their rounds, and this enjoyment remains today.  So, it was really good for the new teams in our area to see Sara working her rounds at this trial, and more importantly see the fun and challenges of the higher-level exercises in a live trial environment.

My first Puppy/Vet L1 and L1 course on the Saturday was designed to give the teams flow and confidence, followed by a more challenging course for the handlers to negotiate in the afternoon.  I was very pleased to see that all the teams raised their performance in response to the afternoon course and demonstrated growth with very competent handling skills enabling their dogs to give their very best.

I would like to give a shout out to Jonathan, who stepped into the Table Steward role on Saturday and did a sterling job of keeping us all under control and on the right track, and a huge thank you to Joanna of Positively Canine for sole use of this lovely venue.

So, at the conclusion of our first two trials, we have a number of teams who have gained their Puppy Championships and moved up into Level 1, teams who have achieved their VL1 Championships, a number of teams are progressing towards their L1 Championship, and one team has moved into VL2, which is much more than we set out to achieve when we decided to host trials “Up North”.

I am very grateful to Jacky and Amie for travelling up to support our trials, even if the final VL3 course that Jacky designed totally blew all of our minds!

Finally, I want to thank each of the teams that entered the trial, I am incredibly proud of each and every one of you for pushing yourselves to test the skills that you have learned, and most importantly, thank you for bringing a tremendous amount of fun with you.  Long may this continue.

Chichester Trial-10 July 2022

On Sunday I had the pleasure of judging on a beautiful sunny day in Chichester. Competitors quickly erected ’tent city’ providing shade, paddling pools and ice blocks for the dogs and themselves. Everyone was sensible and put their dogs’ needs first, ensuring that they practiced in the shade and returned to the cool as soon as they had finished working their rounds.

As always this trial was extremely well organised and ran smoothly with the help of table and ring stewards keeping the judges on track!

Most teams were able to pull off respectable rounds despite the heat and the odd footballer across the field!

It was great to welcome back our Armchair Pets and other longstanding members including Rachel and Emma who were competing for the first time since the pandemic.

Our new members were a joy to watch and judge, you all did yourselves proud. Particular mention must go to Kim and her Frenchie Cody who is our first competitor on wheels. Cody competed on equal terms with the other dogs and managed to achieve an Ace- well done Team Cody.

The following teams all scored a perfect 210- Dorothea and George, Dorothea and Skye-Mouse, Jojo and Mya (x2), Jojo and Meggie, Lisa and Rocco, Lina and Sidney(x2) and Gill and Molly. Well done all of you. I believe that Jojo is the first handler to be awarded 3 perfect scores at one trial- no mean feat!
A special mention must go out to Jacky and Amber who were awarded their L3 Championship. It is certainly not easy to complete a Level 3 which requires a total of 18 scores; congratulations Jacky and Amber.

Many thanks to Tanya and Rhia for judging all day in the heat and for covering for me when I was held up in traffic. Our biggest thank you must go to Jacky B and all at Armchair Pets for their hard work and superb organisation. Looking forward to next time at this great venue. Jacky

Mini Trial, Hailsham-July 2022

I had the pleasure of judging an evening Mini Trial in Hailsham,East Sussex which was attended by 9 teams. As it was a warm evening we had to juggle our plans slightly and ended up setting up the course on a rough hardstanding in the shade rather than on grass in the sun. This surface certainly seemed to suit the dogs who, without exception, worked happily.

Despite only recently embarking on their TDR journey, all teams achieved a qualifying score and were thrilled with their results. I particularly enjoy judging a range of different breeds so I was in my element here with sparky little Crossbreeds, Whippets, a Springer Spaniel and a Rottie! The teams have been well coached and already have a good understanding of loose TDR working style. I look forward to judging the teams later in the year and hope to welcome these new members to a regular trial in the future. Thank you Lyn and well done all!

A lovely piece shared by one of our newer members Ruth Heelan

Isle of Wight Trial-June 2022 Blog by Rhia Butler

What an amazing weekend! The weather held off for us and I even got a tan (partly). I always love coming to the Island to judge as the atmosphere is just the best. The weekend is so well run and the lunch is divine. Thank you to Tessa, Barbara and Pauline for everything you do, you are the ones who make the trial and do all of the background work that goes into running such a fantastic weekend.Although we come and judge, you are the ones that make it happen! I would like to say a huge thank you to Yvonne, who let us crash at her home and made us feel welcome.

Almost everyone that competed over the weekend walked away with red rosettes and quite a few perfect scores given. I have a few people I would like to give a special shout out too; first is Kristie with Quinn, this team are just the best and Kristie has worked so hard with Quinn. Whenever they walk into the ring there is just pure joy to be had. The most memorable is the fast pace in my course on Sunday, I haven’t laughed like that for a long time. My second shout out is for Deborah and Rumble, such a fantastic team and Rumble managed to achieve a perfect score, she worked her little socks off. My third is for Liz and Benjamin, this was the first ever trial for Liz and the bond she has with Benjamin is so lovely to see. 4 reds over the weekend and an AOE and a Puppy Title! You did so well and I cant wait to see Liz and Benjamin in the future. My last shout out is to everyone, without you all the weekend wouldn’t be as good. Liz Banks, Linda Judge and Neil, Sonya Wright, Sue Morris and everyone that helped, you are all amazing! I wish I could name you all but I’ll get told off for my word count. A few things that I picked up over the weekend is luring the stands, you need to make sure your hands or feet are back at your side before the dog has completed the motion. The other is failure to move, you all need to make sure that the dogs are ready to go before you move off, this was shown in many dogs still eating their treats as the handler moved off. Just be careful as they are points that don’t need to be lost.

Copt Oak Trial-May 2022 Blog by Jacky Ruddock

Sue,Jayne and I were happy to be invited to judge a 2 day trial in the village of Copt Oak in Leicestershire last weekend. This is a new venue and is absolutely ideal having lots of space and a quaint little village hall. As entries were manageable, the judges, along with Judge Amie who joined us, had the opportunity to work their own dogs. A few of our members also competed in the Allbredience competition which ran alongside TDR on Sunday. It was great to see some of our long-standing members including Heather who achieved han impressive 210 score in VL1 with the beautiful Caley.
It is always a joy to connect with the newbies at their first live trial. The 3 Cavaliers Josie, Violet and Rufus all pulled off impressive first time rounds. Lyra, a Newfoundland Cross demonstrated that even very large breeds can successfully negotiate a TDR course! Richard and Meg worked at a consistently Ace standard over the 2 days and impressively achieved their Level 1 Title; well done team! Age is no barrier to enjoying TDR. My heart was stolen by the gorgeous 12 year old Labrador Cross, Coco worked by Annie. This was Coco’s first trial and boy did she enjoy herself flirting outrageously with the Sheltie boys and prancing around the ring like a young thing! Annie walked away with her VL1 Title after working 3 lovely rounds. I think this team has caught the TDR bug!

I must mention a few teams- Sara and DJ- what a harmonious team you are; well done on your perfect L2 round. Ann and Dexter- congratulations on achieving your L3 Championship. This is no mean feat as you have to achieve a total of 18 qualifying scores! Thank you Ann for all your help and support you offer at every trial you attend, it really is appreciated. Wendy and the boys- I can really see the development of your teams and the growing bonds between you. Your hard work is paying off; keep it up!

I know how much work goes on behind the scenes of a trial and must offer a heartfelt thanks to Sabine and her husband who hosted us for the weekend.

Thirsk Trial April 2022- by new judge Jayne Crowther

Well, I’m not quite sure what I was thinking of when I decided to organise a trial where I would also be competing with my own dog, and undertaking my first Judging appointment……. on the first morning I began to worry that I had perhaps bitten off a little more than I could chew, and if I had not had the most fantastic support team alongside me then this may have been true!
This truly was a collaborative trial for the Positively Canine and Ruff Diamond Dog folks, where everyone pulled together to ensure the weekend was enjoyable. Special thanks to Sian, Debs, Ann, Jo, Emma, Cris, Gemma and Hazel, for helping set up/change courses, take down rings, meet/greet and sign post folks to the right ring at the right time, provide timely and much needed refreshments to the Judges, and for keeping everything light hearted and fun, we did have quite a few giggles!
We were very grateful to Jo for allowing us exclusive use of the Positively Canine training venue, this enabled all of the teams to succeed in their first live trial. The on-site distractions of the sheep; Lily, Alan and wee lamb Jeffery plus Winnie the horse, did not prove too challenging for most teams. I am a fan of enabling my own dog to see distractions as a training opportunity and it was good to see many of you adopt a similar approach.
I thoroughly enjoyed meeting everyone and judging the Puppy, Level 1 and Veteran Level 1 rounds where I saw handlers enabling their dogs to enjoy their first ever trial experience with high value and timely rewards alongside great communication. In the lower levels it is hugely important to build confidence through sharing a good experience and I was pleased to see many of you aiming for this rather than the colour of the rosette.
There were many special moments throughout the weekend;
Gemma worked Cris’s Border Terrier Rab in Veteran Level 1 and achieved ACE Scores, an AOE and their VL1 Title. Considering that Gemma walks on crutches; it was truly inspirational watching this team work their rounds.
It was so lovely to see Rae and Morse back in the rally ring, and achieving ACE Scores in Level 1.
In the Puppy Level, Emma with Joey and Jo with Gilbert, demonstrated the groundwork skills that will see these teams have consistent success as they work through the TDR levels, and they both earned their Puppy Titles at this trial.
Special mention goes to Diana Hillsdon, who has three rescue dogs; Charlie, Ivy and Tim. They are three very different dogs, and Diana navigated them through a total of 12 rounds over the weekend, resulting in Level 1 Titles for all of them, and an Award of Excellence for Charlie.
This was a truly fabulous trial, and I look forward to hosting more trials at this venue in the future.

Elham Trial 16 April 2022 by new judge Jacky Burden!

Elham was my first live trial as a judge. I ensured I had the course ready well beforehand, with numbers, sign holders, etc. only to find on arrival that I had forgotten the cones for the slalom. Luckily the host club was able to lend me 4 so there was no need to reverse slalom round mugs from the camper!

Elham is a wonderful venue, nestling in the beautiful Kent countryside …. and what a great day we had in the sunshine (& that edgy wind!) It was lovely to see some of our Kennel Club Rally friends trying the course, with hastily gained TDR knowledge & to see some longer term TD Ralliers back enjoying our sport.

I loved the sense of humour shown by so many participants & the kindness with which dogs were treated. The teamwork was great & most teams were able to obtain qualifying scores in the classes I judged. The exercises most commonly penalised were the circle & 270 turn – both the handler & the dog need to walk the shape shown on the sign.

My favourite rounds were probably Adrian working his dog in the Veteran class & Jo Jo with little Mya … both made errors but showed their dogs encouragement & support to keep them happy, positive & rewarded.

Brenzett Trial-October 2021

Wow what a fabulous day! Beautiful homemade cakes, lovely warm tea and even the weather stayed dry! A great ‘family’ atmosphere with friends old and new. My Level 1 and Vet. Level 1 teams made me so happy; so many lovely handlers who clearly love working with their dogs, a fact reflected in the results. I feel the need to mention Amber, such a lovely dog who worked well and did me proud in the fun team event. Thanks also to Steve and Lindsay for being fabulous team mates! Can’t wait until the next one; thanks Steve, Rhia and Co. for a great day out. Sue Coulstock

The Marsh weather was kind to us on Sunday- a mild,dry day with not too much wind! A huge thank you to Steve for taking on the lion’s share (99.9%) of the organisation of the trial and to Rhia for manning the desk and planning the Team Rally to end the day with lots of laughs, (mostly at me trying to work a very reluctant Eevee)! I had the pleasure of judging some cracking rounds- special mention to Dawn and Sherlock for a brilliant 209. Also to Gary and Wilson for a super 210. Alison and Ida pulled out two cracking rounds, 210 in both! Lindsay had been threatening to retire Bonnie but she bounced round the ring and looked like she was having a great time! If I haven’t given you a special mention it’s no reflection on your rounds- you were all great.

Just one thing springs to mind from a training point of view when I think of the few trials we’ve had since returning to ‘live’ trials. More thought needs to be given to your positioning when working your dog on the right. Many of you do not deviate from the ‘line’ you adopt when working your dog on the left- so that when the dog is on the right they have very little space and are sometimes almost having to jump over the signs. It’s difficult to describe what I see when judging but I hope you understand what I’m trying, (not very eloquently), to say! Tanya Butler

I must send a massive well done to Frances and Keena who achieved their Level 3 Championship at Brenzett. This is no mean achievement for anyone as it requires a total of 18 qualifying scores. This beautiful little lurcher always gives her best in the ring and is a sheer delight to watch. Great work team!

Keena proudly displaying her L3 Championship rosette

CALM Trial on the IOW- 25 September 2021

What a great time we all had rallying on the IOW in this picturesque little venue on the green next to the church. The weather was mixed but the dogs worked in a happy relaxed manner. Handlers were not all quite as relaxed, mainly due to the fact that it has been 2 years since most attended a live trial!

Special mentions to- Chrismari Ramsay with Victor who bounced around the ring to score 2 Aces at L1.

Laurie Rushton with her adorable Wire Haired Dacsky, Gertie who performed beautifully and dropped only 7 points in her L1 round.

A particular mention must go to Sharon Baxandall with Isla and Nikki White with Chili. Both of these teams had a difficult morning yet managed to pull off beautiful rounds in the afternoon. Well done!

Thank you Helen and your helpers particularly Tracy for providing a beautiful wiggly puppy to drool over! Jacky

Risby Trial-18/19 September 2021

As always all of us attending had a wonderful weekend away at the Risby Trial. The weather was kind until Sunday afternoon when the heavens opened and we were forced to retreat indoors to complete the L2 rounds.

Far too many brilliant and enjoyable rounds to mention but here’s a few notable ones-

Judy Richardson with her adorable 7 month old Black Lab puppy, Rose achieved 4 Aces across the weekend earning her a Puppy Title and an AOE. Heather Preston and Caley looked smooth and flowed around the courses to achieve 3 Aces at Vet.Level 1 Alison Ruyter and her blonde bombshell Ida earned their L1 Championship in style by achieving a Perfect 210. Jane Hughes and fluffy Troy performed beautifully in L2 and scored a perfect 210 under Jacky.

As we all know TDR® is not just about scores, the friendship and supportive atmosphere in the sport remains of prime importance. We all welcomed the newbies on board at the weekend and were particularly struck by Nicki Layzell and her two dogs Treacle and Radish. Nicki smiled, chatted to her dogs and bounced joyfully around the rings; her teams have a bright future in TDR®.

Thanks as always to Lucy Dawson who always puts in so much work to ensure the smooth running of the weekend trials. Thanks also to all those who helped set up and clear away. Looking forward to next time. Jacky

Our first trial in Chiddingfold was a huge success and we are very grateful to Dorothea and her team of helpers for the such a well-organised event. 
Initially the outlook did not look promising as we set up courses in the pouring rain but the weather soon changed in our favour. Tanya and I judged nearly 60 rounds catching-up with some of our regulars and meeting newbies in the flesh, who we had seen in the online trial.
The standard of work was generally high with many Aces being gained. A particular well done to Bill and Mitzi who gained their Puppy Title and AOE. Also Jill with Molly and Deidre with Sweep who gained their L1 Titles along with AOEs. For those of you new to the sport an AOE (Award of Excellence) is gained for achieving Ace scores in the first 3 rounds you complete in any level.

Particular mention must go to Samantha Hatcher and her range of Belgian Shepherd Dogs. All of her dogs performed brilliantly and bounced around the ring with great enthusiasm and obvious joy. Samantha’s handling was indeed a joy to judge. 

You just can’t beat the camaraderie that we see in live trials as competitors support and encourage each other before, during and after rounds. This is particularly noticeable in TDR which will always remain non-competitive.

Looking forward to seeing some of you at Risby in September. Jacky

Our first post-Covid live trial! Elham 18 July 2021

Thank you to everyone who came to our trial at Elham in Kent. It was a truly beautiful day; the sun shone as we lounged on the grass in the shade and caught-up with friends from around the country. Teams worked well despite the heat and some challenging courses. A special mention to two new competitors, Bill with Mitzi and Sue with Luke. These pups have a bright TD future ahead of them. Kay and Kiri executed a truly flowing Veteran Level 2 round losing only 1 point. Well done everyone, it really was a joyful day.

Talking Dogs Rally® during Covid!

Talking Dogs Rally® Online Trials

Our first official trial- courses published and entries open-8-22 January 2021. Judging 23/24 January!

So following the success of our online trial and the ongoing uncertainty of Covid-19 we  have made the decision that we will hold online trials 3-4 times per year. We will ensure that these do not overlap with Online KC Rally as we recognise that many of our members enjoy competing in both. The following conditions will apply-

  • Entrants must be registered with Talking Dogs Rally®
  • Online TDR® Trials will have their own progression/awards system separate from live trials (as KC Rally does). This is to recognise the big differences in both.
  • Each online trial will initially have 1 course at each level- Puppy, Level 1, Pre-Level 2, Level 2 and Level 3. There will also be Veteran Levels 1,2 and 3 for dogs of 7 years and over.
  • Courses will be set and judged by TDR® judges who currently judge live trials.
  • Each team, consisting of 1 dog and handler, may enter a maximum of 2 classes per trial PLUS 1 Veteran Class if eligible.
  • Handlers currently working live TDR® Trials may choose to enter the level below that in which they currently compete or begin at L1 or Puppy/Vet L1 if eligible. For example, a team currently competing at L2 may chose to begin at L1 or Pre-Level 2.
  • Handlers new to TDR® MUST begin at Puppy/L1.
  • Teams may also enter the class above the lowest class they are entered for. For example, if entered at L2 a team can also enter L3.
  • There will be a separate awards system for Online Rally which differs from live trials. Teams will be awarded Good (170-179) Outstanding (180-189) or Ace (190-210). Certificates and score sheets will be e-mailed to competitors who will then also have the option of purchasing rosettes to celebrate their achievements.
  • Teams will be awarded a TITLE rosette for 3 x Good/Outstanding awards at each level OR a CHAMPIONSHIP rosette for 3 x Ace awards at each level. When the team has achieved a TITLE or CHAMPIONSHIP at each level they can opt to move up to the next level or continue to compete at this level. These awards will be financed by TDR®.
  • Courses will be published approx. 2 weeks before judging. There will be no minimum dimensions for each course but it should always be remembered that flow is vital to this sport.
  • All courses to be submitted via YouTube. Videos must include sound and be of good viewable quality. They will be verified before judging.
  • £3 per entry 
  • Details of Online Trials will be published on the Website- and on our main FB Page. An individual FB page will be created for each event to enable questions, walkthroughs and discussion.

Talking Dogs Rally® prides itself in being entirely non-competitive and there will be no placings. 

Please feel free to ask any questions. Further details to follow.

Risby Weekend- 14/15th January

Rhia Butler Judges Report Risby 12/01/2020

Thank you to everyone who came out to the weekend trial hosted by Lucy Dawson. Although it was freezing in the hall, as unfortunately the heating had been vandalised a few days before, all of the dogs and handlers worked incredibly well.

I have a few special mentions to give out; Lindsay and Reef, VL2 – Lindsay all of your hard work paid off and I was so pleased to be able to award Reef the perfect score. Jacky and Amber, L3 – another perfect round and Jacky you deserved it 100%, Amber did so well. Everyone who completed my L3 course. I think all of you should be proud of how your dogs worked. It had been a long day and the dogs still came out with wagging tails. The jump was a little too exciting for some of the dogs and waiting wasn’t an option.

This was the first trial of the year and I can’t wait to see you all at the next one.

Judge’s Report- CALM Isle of Wight, 8th December 2019

Alfie and Rufus exhausted after their busy day!

This was my first time judging for Helen and it was good to be able to put faces to familiar names.  The standard was generally high with many great rounds and a few which gave us a bit of a giggle!

Special mentions go to the following teams:-

Laurie Rushton and Gertie Gertie the Wire Haired Dachsund bounced around the ring and pulled off two cracking rounds earning the team their Puppy Championship.

Bonny Busby and Ted This was the team’s first trial but you wouldn’t have known it as Bonny and Ted achieved a creditable 195 and an amazing 210-Perfect! Look out for this team in the future.

Audrey Powell and Chelsea This was this team’s first trial and they managed to achieve a Good score. Audrey really did show us that TD Rally is a sport accessible for all handlers and dogs.

Tracy Bull and Alfie Anita Norris and Snookie Both of these teams earned their PL2 Championships.

Carole Thornton-Todd with Molly Molly was really able to focus indoors and showed me how well she can work as she flowed around the courses.

Chris Thompson and Splodge This team performed the most beautifully spirals I’ve ever seen!

Rocco, Finlay and Barney- you were the comedians of the trial and brightened our day with your antics! These dogs reminded us all that, although it’s great to win awards, TD Rally really is all about having fun with your human.

Rhia Butler
Judge’s Report – Ditton Mini Trial

Wow! What a night.
Thank you to Steve for asking me to judge, and to all of you that came to compete. Also a special thank you to the Ditton DTC committee for supporting TD Rally®.
Welcome to all of the new faces that came along to their very first competition. You all did so well.
I have the absolute pleasure to train most of you and all I can say is that I am so impressed with each and everyone of you. You blew me away, and the scores show that.
I have a few special mentions;
Janice and Monty, what a team. Janice the bond that you have with Monty is so lovely to see. He worked his socks off and got a well earned Ace rosette. Well done.
Lynne and Poppy, such a super round that left me with nothing to mark. Your round was definitely worth the 210!
Guy and Luca, although NQ’d Guy you carried on and Luca did some lovely work. I’m so glad you kept going.
Now I know that once you get in the ring the training goes out of the window and the nerves take over. Trust me, I know how you all feel. But please don’t get disheartened, for many of you this is the best lesson that Tanya and I could have given you, you have done one competition now so the next one won’t be as scary. You all have the potential to go on and achieve great results in TD Rally. And if you do feel discouraged, I have my clipboard handy and I will beat it out of you.
I am so proud of you all and I can’t wait to see how your TD Rally® journey progresses.

Risby Trial: Saturday Nov 2nd 2019

Judge: Rebekah Watkins

I love seeing the difference in the way dogs work in the hall in the winter. Some love it, others don’t! I was so pleased with the calm, confident way that Rachel encouraged Rogue around the tricky course I had designed. It has always been the true strength of our sport: the support and considerations of ensuring positive and enjoyable rounds for a partnership, rather than a total focus on competition outcomes.

Saturday was perhaps one of my most enjoyable judging experiences. Dawn Ager truly impressed me with her pre-level 2 round. The confidence with which she works her dog and a course is unrecognisable from the first time I judged the team. The relationship she has with her dog is so close and trusting. Steve Carpenter’s gorgeously handsome Harry, has always been a challenge to work in the Rally ring, yet Steve has never given up and produced a super round in the very challenging pre-level 2 course. It was the best I have ever seen Harry perform and he pranced round the course with joy! It was a huge privilege and pleasure to award this team their level 1 Championship following judging their final qualifying level 1 round. Both performances achieved an Ace. 

With the PL2 round, the level 1 signs were where many of the errors occurred. For some it comes down to polishing the basic obedience skills. One of the most common things that lost points were out of position sits. This was as noticeable on the left as the right. Touching of signs and cones occurred far more than usual so I would advise more focus on the handler’s positionIng during the walk round. If you are in any doubt about how best to place yourself, ask the judge to demonstrate. It was great to see more confidence with the dog circles. Everyone tried to achieve this sign as part of one smooth movement. This is impressive to watch! Quite a few handlers needed to prepare their dog for the upcoming station. This was mostly in the pre-level 2 course. It’s important to remember to tell your dog what to do when the course is demanding. Much as our dog-partners are clever enough to look like they know what the signs are instructing them to do, science tells us that they cannot actually read. 

It was lovely to have someone new to me in the ring. Chaz and Dave impressed me hugely with their relationship, enjoyment and skill. Both of Dave’s dogs are lovely to watch work. Once those nerves settle, they will thoroughly enjoy working their way through the levels.

It was great to see Hetty back in the ring. She is such a skilled handler and was so good to watch her lovely round. We have some excellent handlers in our sport who are gifted trainers. We should take advantage of watching the different methods used. It is one of the things I enjoy most about being a judge. However, nothing is more lovey to watch than the puppies. The two youngsters in my puppy class clearly had such fun with their wonderful handlers.

Finally, thank you to all of those who attacked my courses on Saturday and allowed me to judge you. It was a pleasure and I hope you all continue to enjoy this sport as much as I enjoy judging you.

Photos from the Bedlington Trial

Judge’s report- Fishbourne Trial

Whilst setting up on the morning of the trial, we were all concerned that teams would either be wading through a swamp or being blown across the field! As it happened the weather was really kind to us and, apart from the odd gust of wind, the conditions were infact rather pleasant.

Teams generally worked well and many Aces were awarded during the day. A special mention must go to David and Chaz and Alison and Ida who both scored 210 Perfect in their Level 1 rounds. Well done both teams.I particularly enjoyed watching Carole work with little Tanner the Chihuahua who bounced around the ring in harmony with his mum. Zoe also handled her little Yorkie pup Bert really well in my ring and he clearly enjoyed his day.

Several handlers fell into the trap of performing either overly large circles or tight 270’s. Take care when performing Level 1 stations, some are getting rather sloppy!

Although some of the dogs were distracted by footballers and random dogs being walked on the field, most managed to work through any interruptions.

A big thankyou to Jacky B, Frances and all at Armchair Pets who made this trial a success. A special thankyou to Bill who fought against the wind to successfully erect the gazebos.

I look forward to showcasing my judge’s gift at Lucy’s trial in January!

Veteran Level 3

Exciting news for Talking Dogs Rally® competitors!

From January 2020 trial hosts will be able to offer a new class- Veteran Level 3. This class is for dogs 7 years and older on the date of the trial. Teams must have already won a TD Rally® Level 2 Title or Championship or Veteran L2 Title or Championship. 

This class will consist of 16-18 stations and will not include those stations already excluded in Veteran L1 and Veteran Level 2 classes. Jumps will also be excluded. Before beginning the class, handlers will be given the option to substitute a sit for the moving down in Level 3, Stations 14 and 15 (right/left turn, 2 steps, moving down).

In line with current Veteran levels, a Vet. L3 Title will be awarded when a team has accumulated 5 x 170+ scores and a Vet. L3 Championship when a further 6 x 180+ scores have been achieved. 

Title rosettes have been ordered in readiness!

We have a new judge! Susan Coulstock has qualified to judge at Puppy, Level 1 and Vet. Level 1. Her contact details are now on the info. for Trial Hosts. Bio to follow. Welcome to our judging family Sue.

Judge’s Report- Elham Evening Trial

This was our first evening trial, which was rescheduled due to originally being planned for what turned out to be the hottest day of the year! The weather was fine but quite windy which caused the usual problems with falling stations and flapping ring fencing. Rhia kindly stepped in to judge in a second ring so that we could get through the outdoor entries whist we had light.

I was lucky and had a lovely warm hall to judge in!

The standard of work in my ring was generally high. I must say that I can still remember my first trial and how daunting it was to walk in the ring. A special mention must go to our newbies who all left having achieved creditable scores- Claire and Ricky, Diane and Molly and Joy and Jess. Well done all of you!

Kimberley achieved a 210 “Perfect” with Wallace after pulling off a round, which, quote Tanya, ‘Blew me away’!

I would like to particularly commend Alison and Ida who demonstrated in my ring what it really means to work as a harmonious flowing team. Team Ida really is a joy to watch!

There were few negatives to pick up on other than the use of tight leads primarily due to nervousness in the ring. Remember to stay calm, use a loose lead and breathe handlers!

Thank you Lyn and Sue for being fantastic welcoming hosts as always, Betty in the kitchen and my fellow judges Tanya and Rhia who work tirelessly for TDR. Thank you also to our stewards Monica, Jacky and Sally who gave up their evening to help us out.

A big CONGRATULATIONS and welcome to Susan Coulstock who has now qualified as a Level 1 judge following completion of her training at yesterday’s trial. Keep your eyes open for her bio on the website shortly. 

Yesterday’s trial reminded me just how friendly and supportive TDR folk are. The non-competitive element of the sport really does mean that handlers genuinely do wish each other success. It was rewarding to watch people who didn’t know each other at the start of the evening chatting, sharing stories and cheering when their new friends collected rosettes. Here’s to next time!

Photos to follow.


Trial Report- Isle of Wight   September 2019

What an incredible weekend of Talking Dogs Rally® we shared on the Isle of Wight last weekend. The sun shone brightly as the three of us judges watched over 200 rounds.

The standard of work was high across all of the levels and we were happy to welcome newbies along with our old favourites. Particular mention must go the Zoe and the adorable little Collie Newt. This team work together beautifully and, I’m sure, are destined to progress through the levels achieving high scores.

My mention for the most improved team must go to Kristy and Quinn the Spanish Water Dog. Kristy has clearly put in many hours of work with her boy and has managed to achieve real focus and enthusiasm. Well-done Team Quinn! 

The high standard of work was evidenced in the nine 210,’Perfect’ scores achieved across the weekend. 

Vet. Level 1- Sonya and Riely Bear

Pre-Level 2- Lisa and Finlay

                         Lisa and Rocco- TWICE!

                         Jane and Bella

                         Heidi and Miro

Level 2- Jenny and Bob

           Sian and Orla

Level 3- Gillian and Dottie

Congratulations all of the above. 

A special mention to Gillian and Dottie who pulled off a flawless round and made Level 3 look easy! Has anyone else achieved a 210 at Level 3?

Thank you Tessa, Barbara and all islanders who pull together to create a magical weekend; see you in May! 

Just a few of the great photos of dogs at Soham (taken by Emma Hindson).

Soham Trial, Sunday 11th August
Judge: Rebekah Watkins

There is no doubt that conditions were a little tricky on Sunday with the significant wind. Lots of dogs were more ‘enthusiastic’! Some were spooked and others less than enthusiastic. Of course there were those who simply didn’t notice. Despite this, the enjoyment of completing rounds with your dogs was widely evident, with a lot of positive encouragement from handler to dog. I love to see this. 

Comments were made in the walk round about various signs that I included, having been points mentioned from the previous trial. I do like to see the outcomes of a bit of training and careful handling and everyone showed care with the call front. I was also pleased to see the quality of the 270 where the shape and flow of the station was achieved with dog and handler at the same time. 

This was not so evident in the pivot which was on the right hand side. In fact, a lot of you had trouble with positions on the right-hand side. This was most noticeable in the pivot and especially so in the level 2 side step. Stopping a couple of paces before the sign doesn’t allow you enough room to support the movement forward to allow your dog to have the space to get into position. Also doing a shallow side step reduced the possibility for your dog coming to heel in position. 

Although there was a lot of luring going on, I was pleased to see that for most this was a deliberate choice to insist the dog completed the task given. You chose to lose a point rather than not complete a station. 

Watch out for the level 1 signs. Watching your level 1 circle was very ‘interesting’. The shape is a circle, rather than an overly large squashed doughnut. Whilst I am a total fan of doughnuts, they are not the right shape and don’t help you achieve a neat movement which flows straight on to the next station.

Overall I was very pleased with the relationships between dog and handler. That was shown best in the cones. Even Jane Hughes sailed through every one as if she was a confident professional. However, Baci completely shamed himself by performing his trade mark roles, right on top of my signs! Troy, on the other hand demonstrated how fabulous he is. 

Best rounds of the day came from Rae with Gracie and Judy with May. In fact, the veterans showed their experience, producing quality, careful movements, whilst hobbling; groaning as they sat and moving at their own pace. I just loved watching Wilf staring adoringly up at Emma the whole way round and jumping – literally a couple of times – straight to her every command with such enthusiasm. It is always such a pleasure to watch Emma with Zara as well. Emma is clearly a skilled trainer and handler but she has a beautiful relationship with both of her dogs. I was impressed by Lindsay Evans with her two Collies. Following the unfortunate elimination in the ring in his morning rounds, they both sailed around the course in the afternoon like skilled professionals. Lindsay also achieved her level 2 Championship which was richly deserved. 

It is always such a privilege to hand out titles, Championships and AOEs. Jenny achieved a Veteran level 2 Championship with Keira. They have noting left to work for now, having achieved all awards at all levels. A huge congratulations to this team.

My most entertaining round of the day goes to Heather and Caley. The wind, the rattling of canopies and the sound of the llamas proved just too much. Zoomies around the ring were the order of the day and she certainly was enthusiastic doing them. Heather is very used to this from Caley so she achieved a flow mark for waiting it out and then confidently got her back to business. The crowds loved her puppy-like larks. It reminds us of what TDR is all about.

Finchdean Trial Report-Jacky

Tanya’s right, it was indeed a hot one! Despite this we both judged some superb rounds, some humorous rounds and some rounds that handlers may wish to forget!
Our newbies did themselves proud. Tanya has already mentioned David and his two talented boys Chaz and J.J. Lynne and Maggie also achieved two Aces, as did Jane and Rosie; I wish that I had performed this well when I was a newbie! The beautiful Goldie, Casper, worked well for Alan who achieved a Good in the morning followed by an Ace in the afternoon. Two people handle puppy Cavapoo Sweep and this was his first time in the ring with his mum. Safe to say that Deirdre was thrilled to score an Outstanding with her boy. Little Wesley bounced around the ring with Sian and scored an incredible 203; this is sure to be a team to watch in the future. The newbie that stole my heart was, without doubt, the handsome Comet who decided that he would interpret the course in his own special way! Keep up the training Holly; he’s a cracking boy.

It was a special moment for me to once again judge Gill Woolgar whose previous dog Millie captured all of our hearts and set an extremely high standard in TDR. Gill’s new dog, Molly, has come a long way from the nervous girl she was and has blossomed into a confident dog that clearly enjoys working. She scored a 208 and a 209 in her first two Rally rounds; we look forward to her scoring a Perfect 210 very soon. Talking about Perfect 210, well done Barbara and Karrieanne; well deserved!

A big thanks goes to Jacky, Frances, all of the Armchair Pets Team and The George. You really do create a friendly welcoming environment and are wonderful hosts.

Risby Trial Report-Rebekah Watkins

Level 1

Steve Carpenter has to be noted for the most patience ever displayed. Harry was definitely making Steve work for it! It is highly frustrating watching a stubborn Goldie, who – when he decides to work well – effortlessly and gracefully completes a station with gleeful excitement. Harry aside, there really were some lovely rounds with perhaps more confident handling skills than in some of the Level 2 rounds. It was great to see the development of the partnership between Dawn Ager and Sherlock. Confidence is such an important factor and it really does get communicated to the dog. One aspect that I noted was the call front (in the stand in front of the handler), followed by a finish. There are two aspects to this station. The dog needs to clearly come to front, standing in front of you very briefly (a tiny pause), before moving to left/right finish. It shouldn’t leave a judge wondering if the dog actually stood in front of you, rather than arriving around the front area of the handler and straight to the side. Don’t forget that – as partners – all aspects of a station are to be done together. This was a common problem on the pivot. However, it was great to see so many of you do the side-step the correct way; the heel work and the relaxed way partners worked together. Although Steve definitely topped the table with the patience factor, patience from handler to dog was very noticeable in this Level. Finally, well done for using treats and praise to motivate your dog. 


We had some experienced handlers in this little group. I love to see handlers enjoying the puppy round, having fun with their youngster the whole way around. It is a class that we should all watch when we can, to remind us how much fun it should be for a partnership. It was great to see an experienced handler like Heather Preston, working with her lurcher puppy, using the expert handling that she has built working with the lovely Caley. Just to assure you all that Steve really is a good handler, he worked the Cavapoo, Sweep, beautifully around this course and showed off a partnership that benefitted so much from his patient, skilled relationship.

Level 2

Ironically, this seemed to be the group with the least confidence, and yet generally performed well. Even Jane managed to negotiate ‘Jane’s cones’– as they are now affectionately known – with Troy, which has to be one of the biggest achievements of the day. Unfortunately she wasn’t so fortunate with Baci’s overall performance as he decided to do some tricks for us, one of which was to lie dead. Although the nerves were on display, I was delighted with the confident and happy manner in which Lindsay Evans and Reef managed their round. Everyone had a good go at one of the least enjoyed station – Level 2 slalom – and most succeeded. A tip for everyone to take from Barabara Taylor: when things are not working, or too many points are being lost, cut those losses and move on but without beating yourself up and letting it impact on the next few stations. It happens to the best handlers. In fact it can be a sign of a great handler, to be tactical about how to managed difficult situations. 

Pre-Level 2

This was a really good round to judge. There was a mix of experience in this round with a lot of confident handlers. When questions needed asking – or in Barabara’s case informing me how mean I was to include the nasty version of the slalom – they did so with confidence. The judge willingly answers your questions and it is best to ask the judge rather than other handlers, even if they are just as experienced, or more so, than the judge. Barbara Taylor absolutely shone with gorgeous CKCS Jamie. Both were so happy and keen thus giving me an easy round to judge, whilst Jamie showed just how sweet tempered a boy he is as he payed joyful attention to Barbara’s effortless handling. There were a lot of lovely skills shown off by the majority of this class. Despite the moans about the slalom – obviously a station that I need to keep in future rounds to allow lots of skill to develop – this was a very well achieved station because the handlers were positive and used praise to great effect. Just watch out for those level 1 stations. These need practising as much as any higher level signs because they are the foundation skills.

Veteran Level 2

This level included some of the most slick and experienced handlers. All of the dogs showed their age in some way: slowness, a little less quick to comply (that stubbornness aspect that comes to us all in our middle to later age!), selective hearing…. What these handlers all had in common was the solid partnership. Judy Richardson knows that a little firmer command is required on occasion but praises quietly and manages her pace to suit May. She is one of the most skilled handlers I know as she helps her dog to achieve by making communication so clear. Jenny Bowden is also a great handler to observe. She is very confident, calm and moves with a sense of pace even if actually going slowly. She also pays great attention to every sign and is very careful in the way that she completes the level 1 stations so that she earns the core points. One of our more noticeable handlers (praises Labrador Gracie extremely enthusiastically, especially with the dog circles) Rae Watkins, gave us a very fluid round with plenty to celebrate. What all of these handlers had in common was careful focus on the movements needed for each aspect of a station and this was particularly shown with the pivot where all handlers and dogs moved together. Sometimes the ‘oldies’ and their partners are great teachers to the rest of us.

Judges’ Reports – Tanya & Rhia Butler 

What a busy couple of months it’s been on the TD calendar – and we wouldn’t want it any other way!! Three Trials in June saw us yo-yo-ing up and down the A3 and A11 and we loved every second of it.

Risby 22/23rd June 
Once again, we were delighted to be invited to judge by Lucy Dawson at Risby Village Hall. Sadly, work commitments dictated that we were unable to join the pre-Trial dinner on Friday evening, but early Saturday morning roads were kind to us, and we arrived in good time to set up. It was lovely to see such happy dogs and their handlers, and the standard of work was great. The ‘most improved’ award must go to Sherlock and Dawn – we know first hand how hard Dawn has worked with Sherlock and the results are there for all to see. It’s wonderful to see them now regularly picking up red rosettes – the future is definitely looking rosy for this team! The weather was hot (maybe not quite as hot as last year, but certainly not far off!) and the dogs coped admirably. Special mention should also go to Bacci, who certainly did not like the heat, but still came out to keep his human Jane happy! 

Tanya & Rhia 

Paws in the Paddock, IOW 29th June 
Thank you to Helen Bull and Tracy Bull for inviting us to judge on our favourite Island yet again. A last minute venue change is the last thing a host wishes to deal with and yet, despite booking a venue over a year prior to the Trial, this is what poor Helen and her team were faced with, through no fault of their own. Fortunately, the event was moved to Rookley Cricket Ground, which certainly did not detract from its success in any way – the beautiful, green, well-manicured grass of the cricket field posed no problems for the dogs or their handlers…… and the weather was glorious…… well, glorious in that ‘blooming hell, its hotter than hot thing in the oven’ sort of way!! From Tanya, a special thank you to those wonderful people who helped out by scribing – Sian, Sonia, Jenny M and Rhia, who stepped in to help out when I couldn’t move my arm, thank you so much. 

Despite the heat, there were some cracking rounds and the standard was exceptional. Particularly standing out for me were Laura and her beautiful Khan and Beau who struggled through the heat and still came out to play – well done boys! 

Tanya & Rhia 

Finchdean 13th July 

Back down the A3 again to the wonderful Finchdean venue – a pub, happy days. Thank you to Jacky Burden and her team for inviting me to judge (Rhia letting me fly solo for this one to have a well-deserved day off!). Once again it was hot, hot, HOT, but for the most part, the dogs and handlers coped well. Fortunes were mixed and it was very clear that there was a smelly ring and a not-so-smelly ring, fortunately I drew the latter. Poor Harry travelled all the way from Kent with his devoted human Steve, but Harry did succumb to the heat and really did not want to play today – now, I know Harry very well and he certainly was not his best today, but I think he just likes to keep Steve in his place and remind him who is really in charge sometimes….. good work, Harry! 

It was lovely to see some new faces too, and they came out with some cracking rounds. David and his beautiful boys, JJ and Chaz, were very impressive and definitely teams to watch in the future, but the stand-out for me was the evident delight shown by both dogs, but Chaz in particular. His tail did not stop wagging and he watched David with absolute devotion and even when Dad got it wrong and got flustered, a quick ‘good boy’ immediately had the tail wagging and the smile back on Chaz’s face – absolutely priceless and so lovely to see. 

A particular mention to the wonderful Karrieanne, who came over from IOW with her mum Barbara…… now I have been judging this team for many years now but this time they pulled it out of the bag in a spectacular way, but despite many times of knocking on the door they haven’t quite made it to the 210 (I’ve lost count of the 209’s I’ve awarded them). It gave me immense pleasure to award a perfect 210 to Barbara and Karrieanne on Saturday after a truly beautiful round which truly demonstrated the ethos of rally – a team of one handler and their dog, flowing around a course in perfect harmony.

Tanya Butler 

We would like to thank each and every one of you for your continued support for TD Rally and our Trial Hosts – without you, our weekends would not be anywhere near such great fun! 

Tanya & Rhia 


Talking Dogs Rally®

Amendments to The Official Talking Dogs Rally® Manual 4thEdition

Rules and Regulations by Pam Mackinnon

Amendments by Jacky Ruddock

Page 10- Finding your level

There is no longer Level 1A and 1B. This is replaced with Level 1 which is for all dogs 1 year and older on the date of the trial.

Veteran levels are for dogs 7 years and over on the date of the trial.

Veteran Pre-Level 2 and Veteran Level 2- is for handlers who have already won a TD Rally® Level 1 Title or Championship.

It is not compulsory to have entered Veteran Level 1.

Page 11- Learning TD Rally

We no longer have a Twitter page.

Page 19

The 10-minute maximum round time has been removed. There is no longer a maximum time but a judge may ask a team to leave the ring if this is felt to be in the best interest of the dog.

Page 23/4- Feedback

Permitted rewards

Judges like to see dogs working happily and being rewarded for their efforts. Rewards are encouraged at all levels of work.

Puppy Level-physical (touch, stroke), toys and food are allowed at any time during the round without penalty.

All other levels– Over half of the stations excluding bonuses have a stationary element. Food and toy rewards are allowed without penalty after any stationary elementof a station. (If there is more than one stationary element in a station, rewards may be given after each element). Food and toy rewards on the move will be marked as extra rewards.

Physical praise-(touch or stroke) is permitted at any time during the round.

Verbal praiseis encouraged throughout the round.

Rounds should flow and handlers should be aware when rewarding their dogs that points may be lost for significant interruption of flow

Page 35-Course Design

Jump heights– In the case of a tiny dog the judge may lower the jump height for safety reasons.

Trial Entries

I recently requested opinions about the suggestion of increasing the amount of classes that a team can enter in one day from 2 to 3. I am grateful to all who took the time to reply of which there were over 150 of you!

These were just some of the reasons given to support the suggestion:

  • The opportunity to enter more classes would encourage people to travel further to enter trials, particularly those handlers with just 1 dog.
  • Hosts would be able to fill spaces in classes.
  • Some competitors and dogs are willing and able to work more than 2 classes per day.
  • Handlers are able to judge their individual dog’s capabilities.

These were some of the reasons given against the suggestion:

  • Even though they may have the physical capability to, some dogs are not mentally and emotionally able to work more than 2 classes per day.
  • We hope that handlers can judge what their dogs are able and happy to do but there are times when handlers are eager to work but their dogs are not happy to. Handlers sometimes become stressed rushing from class to class and dogs are not allowed enough rest and down time.
  • Some trials fill up very quickly. Spaces may be quickly filled by fewer people, particularly those with multiple dogs.


There were significantly more respondents who did not support an increase in classes.

After discussion with judges and careful consideration of the points raised, I have decided that it is in the best interest of all if we limit the amount of entries per team to 2 per day. This is in the true spirit of TD Rally® which puts the wellbeing of the dog at the heart of every decision.

The Way Forward

Several people made some really useful suggestions that hosts may wish to consider and TD will support.

  • Introduction of a ‘Have-a-Go’ Ring if space permits. This would enable all to train/reward/practice in a relaxed manner. Perhaps hosts could have a bucket and handlers pay £1 for a turn. 
  • Introduction of fun classes such as Rally Relay, Team Rally etc. Remember when we did this at the Spring Fling? Hosts can be imaginative! Please discuss ideas with TD Office for approval.
  • Fun classes could be entered on the day or booked ahead of time. THESE WOULD NOT BE INCLUDED IN THE 2 CLASSES PER DAY LIMIT. 
  • No fee would be payable to TD Office for fun classes.

I hope that you understand my reasons for this decision.

Jacky Ruddock

 Rule Amendments for Trial Hosts

Class Fees

The current system for calculating class fees has, in the past, led to confusion and disagreement. I have spent time juggling figures and, in order to make it fair to all regardless of the size of trial and number of classes, the fees will currently be calculated at 50p per entry

Therefore for a trial with 40 entries -£20 and a trial with 180 entries- £90

This will hopefully be easier to calculate and encourage hosts to schedule a wide range of classes to cater for all.

The Trial Registration Fee should be submitted with the Trial Application Form but the Class fees can be paid either before or straight after the Trial.

Judges’ Travel Expenses

Our judges do a fantastic job but often have to travel long distances and fund a night or two in a local B and B in order to attend a trial. At the current time a judge can apply to TD for a mileage allowance towardstravel expenses.  This is a huge drain on TD and frequently means that the organisation runs at a loss. In the future, hosts will be expected to-

  • Check with the particular judge prior to appointment whether she will require a travel allowance. Not all judges claim. 
  • Add a small sum to each entry fee to cover this- suggest 50p per entry. Pop this money into an envelope and hand to the judge on the day.
  • A judge will understand that a small trial will not be able to fund her full mileage and can apply to T.D for a top-up if required.
  • Hosts very generously give gifts to judges, which, whilst appreciated, are not, expected, particularly if the judge has claimed mileage. 
  • If the host feels unable to fund mileage she should approach an alternative judge. Jacky will advise further if no other judge is available.

In the pipeline- what I’m doing!

  • Currently in the process of training new judges to add to our limited pool.
  • Finalising a Veteran L3 Class that will be up and running in 2020.
  • Looking beyond- Level 4? A work in progress

Any questions and comments please speak/e-mail me. Look forward to hearing from you all!

All the best,


Blog and photos from IOW Trial 8/9 June ’19

What wonderful times we shared on the Isle of Wight last weekend. I was seriously concerned that I wasn’t going to make it over on the Saturday 5 a.m. ferry as the wind blew and waves lashed the harbour. The weather made it a tricky day for the dogs who had to cope with flapping ring plastic, periodic heavy gusts of wind and a judge in a strange woolly hat! In contrast Sunday was a beautiful day, the shorts were on and spectators sat around clapping teams as they worked.

I’m always impressed by the standard of work on the island and this weekend didn’t disappoint.  We really do have all shapes and sizes of dog compete ranging from Chihuahuas to Chesapeake Bay Retrievers and a Tibetan Mastiff. There were some great rounds, particularly from those fairly new to the sport, Sue with Nelson, Jacqui with Stan and Helen and Maggie all Titled at L1 and impressively all gained AOEs. I was particularly impressed by Lisa working her gorgeous Labradors, Rocco and Finlay. Lisa is such a kind gentle handler and her calmness results in consistently Ace results with her boys. 

We had 4 Perfect scores- I think that may be a record! Congratulations to-

Jenny and Bob at L2

Ruth and Cassie at PL2

Sonya and Edward at L1 and Sonya and Dibladob at Puppy Level.

Welcome to Kristy and her Spanish Water Dog, Quinn who only registered with TD a couple of weeks ago and had a successful weekend culminating in a Puppy Title. 

My final mention must go to the little Whippet-X, Rumble and her handler, Deborah. What a fantastic little dog; everyone loved watching her carefully prancing her way around the course. She certainly charmed this judge!

My usual thanks to Barbara, Tessa and the team who work so hard to make everyone feel comfortable and extremely welcome. You really do an amazing job and I always return home a couple of pounds heavier! See you all in September if not before.

Report from Judge Amie Bedlington Trial 28 April 2019 (Photo on our front page)!

It was with some apprehension that I made the journey North to Bedlington. Although I had stepped in to judge at the last minute at the Risby trial in February, this was my first official judging appointment; but I needn’t have worried because Cris and the Ruff Diamond teams made me feel very welcome. Everything was ready when I arrived at their indoor venue, so all I had to do was set out my course.Both the morning and afternoon rounds were of high quality and it was clear to see just how much everyone had been practising in preparation for the trial. In particular, the pivots were spot on. Both those who had competed before and the first timers did themselves proud. One round that really stands out was with Georgina and Nelson, who took teamwork to the next level. Arriving at the 270 Left, Georgina looked at Nelson, Nelson looked at Georgina, both confused. After a small amount of flapping, they decided it was best just to move on. A good decision! Other rounds that stood out were Jane and Edric’s because despite being a shy boy, Jane supported him to gain an Ace in each of their rounds, and Katie with Rory, who were competing for the first time and did a great job. Most of the stations were pretty bang on, with only the pace stations needing some work. I know that while it might seem to the handler that they are slowing down or speeding up, when watching the dogs, that wasn’t always the case. I was pleased to be able to present so many rosettes, including two Level 1 Champs to Emma with both of her dogs Wilf and Zara. Huge thanks to Cris and her helpers for running such a well organised trial. I look forward to coming back, and hopefully awarding Cris with the Ace Perfect that she just missed out on this time!

What a great way to start 2019 – in January we registered our 1000th dog!

Tilly is a 1 year old Labrador who lives on the Isle of Wight. She is now TD Rally® royalty, so make sure to say hi to her and her handler Vivienne when you are lucky enough to meet them at trials and events.

Risby Trial

Our first trial of the year was held in Risby at the start of February. Hosted by Lucy Dawson and ably assisted by so many wonderful and selfless helpers. Their dedication was put to the test when judges Tanya and Rhia, after judging on Day 1, had to rush home for a family emergency. Without hesitation, three judges who were at the trial to compete, immediately stepped in to cover the classes on day 2. Amie, Jacky and Rebekah were the heroes of the day and we are all so grateful for their support. 
Held indoors – no freezing February rounds – everyone had a great weekend. Dogs and handlers did themselves proud, setting up a super successful 2019 season.

A few of the competitors and judge Jacky


The season has started, but not everyone has paid their fees yet. No fee = no official rounds. If you slip through the net and do compete without having paid your fee, your round will not count towards any awards. These fees are crucial to help fund our sport. Without them we can’t run TD Rally®, so thank you to everyone who continues to support us. We couldn’t do it without you!

If you are still to pay please contact Jacky for further details.

Talking Dogs Rally®is a registered trademark.