By tradition, each year we publish a series of papers (blog posts) on the games of the Petit Prix. Today we’re pleased to present the first in a series that discuss the games of the 2018 Petit Prix.

Superior Standard Course

The Standard Course deserves a place in the discussion of games. “Follow the Numbers” is, after all, the most fundamental game in dog agility competition.

The standard course should, above all else, serve as a model for the course design guidelines to which we aspire in the TDAA.


In the TDAA we play agility in small spaces. It’s can be difficult to design a course that doesn’t feel cluttered, cramped and over-filled. Equipment should be spread around the field in a balanced manner, in an artful presentation.

Reusing obstacles is the key to allowing the small space to feel like a bigger space.

Note that no table is allowed in a Petit Prix Standard course. This is true in the Petit Prix Qualifier Class as well.


Petit Prix Standard courses should subscribe very closely to the spacing we like to see between obstacles in the TDAA. In the straight-away obstacles should be spaced roughly 8′ to 10′ apart. When requiring the dog to turn, or on the approach to a technical challenge the dog’s path should measure a minimum of 12′.

This sample course presents an almost constantly turning numbered sequence. And so, the distances between obstacles should average something over 12′.


Every handler learns fairly early in his or her agility career strategies for solving numbered courses. These solutions can be quite different from handler to handler depending on the assessment of the challenges presented by the course, and the handler’s apprehension of the skills of the dog.

What does this course suggest to you?

Certainly, a course that is serpentine in nature the handler is presented with the Riddle of Sides. Can the handler get in position to changes sides forward of the dog in order to be on the side of a turn? Or, failing that, does the team have the skill to change direction when the handler is on the side away from the turn.

According to the designer, the most technical moment in this course is surely the approach to the weave poles. The longest and straightest line on this course begins on the dismount of the A-frame and continues through two jumps and into the weave poles.

In general, long straight lines should be avoided in course design. The so-called long-straight-line is a killer for the handler of a fast dog. A dog forward of the handler tends to curl back towards the handler, so spoiling the erstwhile straight line.

In this transition from A-frame to weave poles, the handler might use the dog’s tendency to curl back to advantage. Putting dog on left on the dismount of the A-frame, the dog might pull to the right a bit after jump #10 drawing the dog out for extra room for the weave pole approach.

This course also offers as many as six wrong course options. While these are subtle, presenting modest challenge; they are real, and demand that the handler be mindful of where the dog’s nose is pointed; [where the nose goes, the rest of the dog is apt to follow.]

The Petit Prix: An Evolving Format

In 2018 the Petit Prix format has been significantly transformed. The most obvious change is that dogs must earn a qualifying score in a Regional qualifying event held during the Qualifying Period.

Tournament placement is now based solely on the results of the Championship Round of the tournament. In the past, final placement was based entirely on Tournament Performance Points. While performance points are still important to qualify for the championship round, the slate will be completely wiped clean for that round.

Another important format change: Any dog that wins a tournament game will gain entry to the Championship round.

You can find a Regional qualifying event near you on the TDAA Events Calendar:

You can find a complete discussion of the Petit Prix tournament rules here:

Stay Tuned

We will continue the discussion of Games of the 2018 Petit Prix tomorrow.

Fair warning: There’s a very real chance that we could run this very course, and all of the games published in this series, at the Petit Prix Warm-up Workshop.


Oct   3 – 4 , 2018 TDAA PETIT PRIX warm-up workshop  Trial number T18998
at Four Seasons K9 Athlete Ctr
Washingtonville, OH
Workshop presenter:  Bud Houston
Contact:  Marsha Houston at
Working with the Petit Prix site and equipment; the workshop provides a comprehensive discussion of Petit Prix games and strategies. Each morning session includes two games and a standard course; each afternoon session one game and one standard.

Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Visit our web store: You’ll find in the web store The Book of Agility Games, a comprehensive reference to all manner of agility games played for competition and fun around the world.