In preparation for the TDAA’s 2013 Petit Prix on this blog, over the next few days, I hope to give a comprehensive discussion of each of the games scheduled for that championship competition.

At the same time we’ll be having a robust round-table discussion on the TDAA Judges’List on Yahoo so that our judges can share they experience and expertise in the design and play of these games. Of course that discussion won’t be limited to the Games of the Petit Prix.

Now… the documentation below comes right out of the Book of Agility Games. I will be sure to share any possible enhancements to the basic rules that arise from our discussions on the Yahoo List.

Note that I’ve made additional comments to the text; these will be presented in bold blue type.

Puppy Cannon!

Puppy Cannon is a fast and furious game of handling, often used as a training game but suitable as a game of competition for top competitors.


The objective of this game is for the dog to do all three of the numbered sequences shown on the course map. The sequences can be taken in any order, and in either direction. The dog starts on the table and must begin with the pipe tunnel (the Puppy Cannon) and return to the pipe tunnel after the performance of each of the three sequences.

The judge may specify that certain sequences are bi-directional.

After the performance of the final pipe tunnel, the dog must be directed back to the table to stop time.


Scoring for Puppy Cannon is Time, Plus Faults. The dog with the lowest score wins.

Course Design


In many ways the design of Puppy Cannon resembles Beat the Clock, except that the central obstacle is a pipe tunnel, rather than a tire. The featured tunnel should be straight and aimed, like a cannon, at some obstacle (which may or may not be the next correct obstacle).

In the design of this sample course two other pipe tunnels are engaged… aiming at wrong course obstacles; but with sufficient room for the handler to turn the dog towards the next correct obstacle.

On this course the judge specifies that the white-numbered sequences are bi‑directional.

Note that the table is the starting obstacle on this course. This should not be viewed as a constraint. The judge might use any beginning obstacle.

Design Analysis

Note that the spacing between obstacles might seem more generous than you might see in typical TDAA sequencing our course work. These distances are consistent with our course design guidelines. While wrong course “options” are central to the intent of the game, we require a minimum of 12 for the avoidance of a wrong course option.

The sample course includes two tunnels that aren’t central to the game (like the tire in Beat the Clock). They both are set very intentionally to introduce the possibility of the wrong course option. While the exhibitor may be giving his best focus to the central tunnel… these too should come into play.

The handling sequences might be more challenging than was portrayed here. However, we don’t want to get far from the main premise of the game… to challenge handlers to demonstrate their ability to direct the dog when shot out of a tunnel. And so any peripheral handling challenges should not overwhelm the basic challenge of the game.

Please note that the final game at the Petit Prix will be Black Hole. This is a really basic follow-the-numbers sequencing game that has the cruel twist… if a dog goes into a pipe tunnel he is immediately eliminated… and the game ends. At this year’s Petit Prix it could prove to be exceptionally challenging, so immediately following a game in which the dog is directed to dive into every pipe tunnel that offers itself.

Judging Notes

Dogs should be judged according to their respective level in the standard classes. That means, when appropriate, refusals and weave pole errors should be faulted.

In briefing the judge should be very clear on several points:

  • After the start the dog must be directed to the central pipe tunnel
  • After each sequence the dog must be directed to the central pipe tunnel
  • The three sequences can be taken in whatever order the handler desires
  • Which, if any, sequences are bi-directional
  • The dog must be directed to the finishing obstacle after the final performance of the central pipe tunnel.

The judge should offer neither handling advice nor strategy advice to exhibitors in briefing.

Qualifying and Titles

Qualifying Course Time (QCT) is based on the measured length of the overall course using rates of travel appropriate to each dog’s level and jump height. After faults have been added to time if the score is equal to or less than the established QCT, then the dog shall receive a qualifying score.


Original ~ Puppy Cannon was originally envisioned simply as a training game; mostly to demonstrate that turning the dog on the dismount of a pipe tunnel could be quite a trick of handling. In this variation there is no established course time.

Premium Blurb

Puppy Cannon is a game featuring the pipe tunnel as a test of the handler’s skill when redirecting the dog. It is typically played with three (or more) small numbered sequences that can be taken in the order of the handler’s choosing. Puppy Cannon is scored Time, Plus Faults.


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Visit our webstore at: Our web store includes more than five years of lesson plans for three levels of agility training in the pages of The Just For Fun Agility Notebook; and each includes a “game of the week” for league play. Many of these are the games we play today in the TDAA.