Two teams of four dogs race against each other and the winning team goes through to the next round. Dogs may be instructed to Sit Stay, or be held by other team members behind the Start Line, while the handlers walk across the arena to stand behind the Finish Line, facing their respective dogs ten yards away. Most teams elect to have holders, because after three false starts, the team is eliminated. Also the dog holders may amp-up the dogs prior to a catapult release.
After the judge, says, “Ready… Steady… Go!” the two handlers (from opposing teams) at either end of the line call their dogs first. Each dog is required to come and sit (entirely across the Finish Line, whereupon the handler taps the dog on the head as a signal for the next handler in line to call their dog. When the fourth handler has tapped the dog on the head for sitting, all handlers instruct their dogs, “Down!”
All dogs need to be super-friendly and confident around people, because they are held by other team members at the Start Line. As in the Doggy Dash, fast and reliable recalls are pretty much taken for granted. To gain the competitive edge, team members want to teach their dogs quick Sits and Downs and learn to pay attention to what their team members are doing.
This game is pretty simple, yet so many teams disqualify. Holders let go of dogs too soon. Handlers call dogs too soon or forget to tap the dogs on the head. One handler forgot to Down his dog at the end and lost the race for his team.
The Recall Relay is all about awareness — paying attention to what other dog handlers are doing with their dogs and what you should be doing with yours. Recall Relay handlers become safer handlers; when walking their dogs, they are very quick to get the dog to come and/or sit should the safety or distracting nature of the environment change for the worse, for example, if children are approaching, or if other dogs or animals are on the loose.