The entry level stations are colour-coded green and include many basic exercises such as left and right turns, pace changes and basic obedience. Level 1 has 31 stations plus 3 bonus stations. All level courses are performed on lead and handlers are permitted to give their dogs lots of feedback and rewards throughout the rounds.
The biggest change that teams face in Level 2 is that all rounds are done off lead. This obviously requires more training, skill and control. Level 2 stations are blue and are included in both Level 2 and Level 3 courses. This level contains 17 new stations and include more recall work and faster pacing. It also has 5 bonus stations providing teams with a greater opportunity to work tactically.
This is the most challenging level as it encompasses stations from all levels. The 17 additional Level 3 exercises, coloured yellow, include jumping and going through a tunnel combined with distance control and, as one of the 4 bonus stations, a retrieve. As in Level 2, all Level 3 rounds are performed off lead.
These non-compulsory exercises allow teams to gain extra points or make up for exercises that they know might cause problems for their dog. Or if they felt ultra confident that their dog could do well in the round and the bonus exercise they could aim to collect a maximum of 210 points instead of 200. These exercises add a more tactical and competitive edge to the rounds and can make, or break, a winning round.
The aim of each team is to drop as few points as possible throughout their round. Each team starts with 200 points and can lose points as they go through the course. Rather than first, second or third, teams may earn Pass, Excellent or Ace awards. They can then work towards winning Level titles by notching up multiple high scoring rounds which will also help them enter the National Rankings, with everyone hoping to be No.1 Talking Dogs Rally team in the UK.
(Levels and scoring taken from the TD Rally website)