Yep, we do obedience! Bates only has a rally novice title, but I hope to also put a CD on him the next time I have enough spare cash to justify a show weekend
Most people will tell you that rally is "easier", and while I agree that rally is a better place to start off, rally and obedience each have their own set of challenges.
- Rally courses are different each time, obedience is always the same set of exercises.
- Rally allows for multiple signaling and encouragement for your dog. In obedience you can not say and signal the command at the same time.
- For rally, you have to keep the dog engaged throughout the entire course, there are no breaks. In obedience, there is a break between each exercise. You can touch the dog at this time and rev him back up or calm him down. In rally there is no touching the dog or breaks for the duration of the course.
- You cannot use food or toy rewards in the ring for either obedience or rally. However in APDT rally you can reward with food for stationary exercises. APDT rally courses are usually longer and harder too.
- At the advanced and excellent levels, rally has a food and toy distraction. I don’t think there is ever a food distraction in obedience (at least not on purpose, I suppose some left over bait could end up on the ground in the ring).
- I think for bigger dogs, another issue with rally would be that the courses can get pretty tight. Some judges really like the turns and pivots, and those are hard for the bigger dogs. (There are no 360s in obedience, 180 at the most.) Especially if you have a turn sign right next to a stationary sign, it doesn’t give you a lot of room to get the dog straightened back out.
AKC now also has a beginner novice obedience class. A starting point for those wondering if they're ready to start obedience.
In general I would say that obedience can be just as much "fun" for the dog (and handler) as agility, its all in how you train for it.