These past few weeks have been busy for everyone in our rally group so we couldn't get together for a class. One of our trainers loaned me a set of rally signs to practice with which made a huge difference. Instead of trying to remember the many different signs to practice, I now had the visual tool I needed to practice each one properly. Since I work during the day and it's dark by the time I get home I had no choice but to practice inside. Every night I would take several signs and scatter them on the floor throught the house so Kirby and I could run through them off and on throughout the evening.
Purchasing a full set is expensive so I decided to make my own signs which is really simple. Since we are just starting out in rally I can laminate the signs we are currently using with plans to laminate the rest of the signs as we need them.
If you have a color printer the only other items needed are:
- 8x11 copy paper
- 8x11 cardstock
- Letter size self sealing laminate pouches
- scotch tape
Step 1 - The AKC website has a complete set of rally signs to print out which can be found here. I purchased some cardstock but it wouldn't feed through my printer so I printed the signs on regular copy paper. If your printer will take cardstock then print the signs on it. Some of the rally signs are changing in April of this year so if you get your signs somewhere else be sure you are using the right ones.
Step 2 - Some of the signs can be confusing so print the instructions for each sign which can be found here along with the new 2012 regulations.
Step 3 - Cut out and tape the instructions for each sign on a single piece of copy paper to hold it in place. I placed them at the bottom right but you can place them anywhere you want.
Step 4 - Take a rally sign and place a piece of cardstock behind it to make the sign sturdy. Then take the matching instructions and place that behind the cardstock facing out.
Step 5 - Slide the lined up papers into the laminating pouch and seal following the instructions. Be careful to do this step slowly so as not to wrinkle the papers since you will not get a second chance. I purchased Scotch laminating pouches which cost $28.00 for 25 pouches so you can choose to use plastic sheet protectors to save money.
The finished signs are bulky but can be easily stored in a plastic accordian type file folder. The final step is how to use them. The laminate makes them a cinch to wipe clean so you can simply lay them on the floor or yard. At rally class the signs are clipped to the top of orange cones. At the trials I noticed that each sign had a strip of velcro on the back which would stick to the velcro strip on each cone. I like the cones which Doug said he thinks he can find really cheap through contacts in his line of work. Otherwise they may prove to be cost prohibitive so instructions to make homemade sign holders I found using wire garden fencing can be read here.
If you are doing rally then these signs will come in handy for those home practices. Even if you don't plan to compete these signs can still be used in your backyard as training tools. Either way it's a great way to bond with your dog. Let the games begin!