Gamblers ~ Games of the Petit Prix

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The TDAA’s Western Petit Prix in Castle Rock, Colorado features seven games and three standard runs.

Today we’ll focus on Gamblers, a dog’s choice point accumulation game that finishes with a distance challenge that earns the dog bonus points. Gamblers is a fundamental and traditional agility game in America. The requirement to direct a dog at a distance informs our training.

Below is a sample course with the simple briefing. Following the briefing is a short discussion of strategy.


Trisha Stall, from New Lebanon, New York will judge Gamblers at the Petit Prix. Gamblers is scheduled for the afternoon of May 20th at the Douglas County Fairgrounds in Castle Rock, Colorado. The sample course shown here is not the course designed by Ms. Stall for play at the Petit Prix.


Gamblers is a point accumulation game with a distance challenge. The objective is to accumulate as many points as possible in the opening period, then to perform a designated distance gamble within the specified closing time.

In the opening point-accumulation period, teams accumulate points by performing obstacles up to twice for points. Back-to-back performance of any obstacle is allowed. If an obstacle is faulted the team can still attempt it twice for points. Jump bars are not reset if dropped, and that jump is dead for the rest of the run.

In the closing, the dog must do the numbered gamblers sequence while the handler stays behind the containment line. The dog may re-cross the line, but the handler must stay behind it. The dog must complete the obstacles, without fault, before time runs out to get credit for the gamble.

The gamble is worth 20 points.

Special Notes about the Gamble:

Any fault during performance of the gamble will negate the gamble bonus.

Performing two different gamble obstacles one after another in the opening will negate the gamble bonus.

Unproductive loitering near the start of the gamble before point accumulation time has expired will negate the gamble bonus.

Dropping a bar on a gamble jump during the opening will negate the gamble bonus.


12″ & 16″ dogs = 30 seconds opening, 12 seconds closing

4″ & 8″ dogs = 33 seconds opening, 14 seconds closing

Obstacle values, opening period:

  • jumps – 1 point
  • tire, tunnels – 3 points
  • Aframe, teeter, weaves – 5 points
  • Dogwalk – 7 points
  • Mini-gamble, 2 jumps performed, A-B circles or squares (as marked) while handler stays behind line – 10 points. If done any other way or not behind line, each jump is worth 1 point. Each jump can only be done twice for points, either as gamble or individual obstacles.

All obstacles, including the mini-gamble, can be taken twice for points in the opening period. Weaves can be corrected for credit.

Scoring and Qualification

Gamblers is scored Points, Then Time. The dog with the most point’s wins. Time is the tie breaker.

To qualify:

  • Games III – needs 23 points in opening plus gamble
  • Games II – needs 21 points in opening plus gamble
  • Games I – needs 19 points in opening plus gamble


Remember that Gamblers is scored Points, Then Time. The dog will either earn the Gamble bonus… or he won’t. While the gamble is required to “qualify”… it isn’t necessarily required to earn a respectable placement score. So the handler should consider a strategy that racks up as many points as possible in the opening point accumulation period.

Because of the “loitering” rule, the handler should save the performance of several obstacles near the start of the gamble for the very end of the point accumulation strategy. When the horn sounds ending point accumulation the dog should be near the start of the gamble, and the handler have enough time to make the approach without haste or panic.

Note that if you’ve used up the “loitering” obstacles near to the start of the gamble, you can do the first jump of the gamble to score points and continue to loiter. Be careful though, because if you drop the bar you’ve negated the gamble bonus.

Our judge has put on the course a “mini gamble” that earns the dog a generous game-changing bonus equal to the end-game Gamble bonus. There is no penalty for trying. Make the attempt on the mini gamble before time expires in the point accumulation period. Get it done early.

There’s a lot to be said for finding a flowing path for your dog during point accumulation. Stay away from obstacles with which your dog has issues. Find opportunities to do back-to-back performances of high value obstacles… a back-to-back, if done neatly, can take a lot of real estate out of the transitional distance between earned points.

Blog1125 TDAA

Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston The web store is up and running. You’ll find in the web store The Book of Agility Games, an invaluable reference to agility fans

Dare to Double ~ Games of the Petit Prix

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The TDAA’s Western Petit Prix in Castle Rock, Colorado is scarcely two weeks away. So, for the next several days I will explore the games we’ll be playing, with special attention to the rules established by our judges, John Finley and Trisha Stall.

Today the discussion is Dare to Double, a dog’s choice point accumulation game; and a game of strategy and daring. I’ll begin with the simple briefing. Follow that reading with the discussion of strategy. Real inspiration might be found in the fine print.


John Finley of Columbus, Ohio will judge Dare to Double at the Petit Prix. Dare to Double is scheduled for the morning of May 20th at the Douglas County Fairgrounds in Castle Rock, Colorado. The sample course shown here is not the course designed by Mr. Finley for play at the Petit Prix.


Dare to Double is a dog’s choice game. 4″ and 8″ inch dogs will have 55 seconds, 12″ and 16″ dogs will have 50 seconds to accumulate as many points as possible. Time starts when the dog crosses the Start line, and ends at the table. The table is live after time has started. A horn will signal the end of point accumulation. If the team reaches the table before the horn, all points earned on course will be keep. If the team fails to get the table before the horn, half of their points will be lost. There will be no warning whistle.

The value of the obstacles is based on a 1-3-5-7-point system.

  • 1 point for jumps
  • 3 points for tunnels and tires
  • 5 points for dogwalk, teeter, and the weave poles
  • 7 points for the dog walk, the first time it is performed.

Scoring obstacles can be taken only twice for points. Back-to-back performances are allowed. Jumps that are knocked down will not be reset.

A successful performance of the A-frame doubles all points earned up to that time. If the dog faults the A-frame, half of the team’s points are lost.

The A-frame is not restricted to only two performances. The dog may double points at any time, and as many times as the handler (or dog) wishes. The important restriction: The dog must complete another obstacle — for points — before reattempting the A-frame.

Scoring and Qualification

Dare to Double is scored Points, Then Time. The dog with the most point’s wins. Time is the tie breaker.

Points needed to qualify:

  • Games III – needs a score of 160 or better
  • Games II – needs a score of 80 or better
  • Games I – needs a score of 40 or better


Although the briefing above includes points required to qualify by level, the Petit Prix really isn’t about qualifying. Each dog is pitted against every other dog by jump height. The competitor should get out of his head the paltry 160 points required of the GIII dog. The strategy should be calculated to earn thousands of points.

You will note that obstacles can be performed only twice for points. This is true of all obstacles except for the A-frame, which can be performed as many times as the dog can manage in the time given to play.

The basic strategy for Dare to Double should be this: Accumulate a foundation of points, and then embark on a doubling strategy.

Foundation Points ~ The handler wants to gather up enough points to make the first double worth maybe twice the value of the any other obstacle on the field. The judge has stipulated in this variation that the first performance of the dogwalk is worth 7 points; and so the total of foundation points should be only about 7 points, or slightly higher.

The handler should be careful not to use up any of the obstacles near to the A-frame that should be used in the doubling strategy.

I will show possible strategies for foundation points based on the sample course:


As back-to-back performances are allowed on all obstacles (excepting the A-frame) the collection of foundation points might feature a back-to-back on a high value obstacle. The black circled numbers represent a pretty good pick-up of points before heading to the A-frame. But this is a real “know thy dog” kind of gambit. The handler would make this opening only if: a) the dog has a fast performance of the dogwalk; and b) it’s extremely unlikely that the dog will miss the down contact. If you’re keeping track, the dog has earned 26 points upon the first dismount of the A-frame.

The white square numbered sequence represents a fast and flowing attack on the doubling obstacle. This opening garners only 18 points on the first performance of the A-frame, but might be fast enough that the dog squeezes in an extra Double by the expiration of time.

Of course there are other possible openings. Use your imagination, and know thy dog!

The Doubling Strategy ~ there’s no conceivable reason for the dog to be put upon the dogwalk, or the teeter, or the weave poles when a performance of the A-frame is worth 40 points, or more. So the doubling strategy must be focused on singleton obstacles that can be quickly snatched up by the dog before heading back to the A-frame.

One of the important rules of the game is that the A-frame may not be doubled back-to-back. The dog is required to do another obstacle “for points” between performances. And, since obstacles can only be performed twice for points, a third performance of an obstacle would not earn points and so would not make the A-frame live for another double. As the judge has a mind like a steel trap, you know that he will be keeping careful track of the number of performances for those obstacles that surround the A-frame.

In the doubling strategy the high value obstacle near the A-frame should be done early rather than late. I’ll illustrate below:


The extra two points for a pipe tunnel (compared to a jump) should benefit as lavishly as possible from doubling. Let me express this as a mathematical compare and contrast:

Score Score
20 20 20 20
D 40 D 40
3 43 1 41
D 86 D 82
3 89 1 83
D 178 D 166
3 181 1 167
D 362 D 334
3 365 1 335
D 730 D 670

Assuming the dog made his first approach to the A-frame with 20 foundation points… you’ll note in the two left-most columns the dog begins the doubling strategy with the performance of pipe tunnels; the two right-most columns begins the doubling strategy with jumps! The left strategy has out-scored the right by 60 points.

Oh, and if the dog doubles three more times… that 60 point difference explodes to a 480 point difference.

The Ticking Clock ~ If the dog doesn’t get to the table before the expiration of time, half of his points will be lost, just like faulting the A-frame! Dare to Double is typically played with a warning whistle or buzzer announcing the impending expiration of time. Mr. John Finley, our wicked judge, has specified that there will be no 15 second warning whistle.

And so, it’s a real test of a handler’s sense of timing know precisely when it’s time to go to the table.

Well, there’s no sense in giving away every strategy. At the warm-up workshop I will share the sure-fire secret for getting the end of time performance perfect every time. Are you coming to the warm-up workshop? I think entries are closed already.

Please note that the table is live from the very beginning of the dog’s run. It’s a very good idea not to present the table to your dog in the midst of your doubling strategy.

Blog1124 TDAA

Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston The web store is up and running. You’ll find in the web store The Book of Agility Games, an invaluable reference to clubs engaged in league play.

Power and Speed

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Some years ago, circa 1992 or so, I entered a USDAA trial out in Pomona, CA. On the premium was this game called “Power and Speed”. I had no idea what it was at all. In contemplation of my little 13″ Shetland Sheepdog—Winston the Wonder Dog—I thought well heck he’s not a powerful dog. The game sounded pretty darned intimidating. And so I did not enter him in the class.

At the trial I got to sit outside the ring rope and watch all of my friends play this game and have just a whole bunch of fun with it. And there was nothing intimidating and nothing beyond the realm of our developing skills. It was just plain old agility played under a set of rules measuring somewhere between odd and unique.

Since that day I have never avoided entering a games class.

Don’t you know I’m sympathetic to new players in the TDAA who don’t play games wherever else they got their start in the game. It’s just a game; it’s just agility. And, we’re going to be playful with it.

I’m moving the Strategy section to lead the discussion. Most interested parties already know the rules to the game. But, if you need a refresher, skip over Strategy to the Briefing.



The Power section is untimed and features mostly technical obstacles. It is unusual to find a hurdle in this section.

What I really want to emphasize here is the importance of the “untimed” attribute of the section. As Power and Speed is mostly offered as a warm-up game, this is a marvelous opportunity for the handler to reinforce the dog’s obstacle performance with some gusto and emphasis. A dog with a 2o2o contact performance can be left in the unambiguous position for a length of time with no degradation of the overall performance score. Indeed it allows and even encourages a bit of training in the ring (nudge-nudge/wink-wink).

Time actually begins at the Starting Line which is intermediate to the last obstacle in the Power section, and jump #1 in the Speed. Take special note of this advice. On this course the handler might actually position the dog in a straight line addressing jumps #1 and #2 and take a lead-out into the speed section… with no degradation of the overall performance score. On the course I’ve drawn above, if the handler attacks the #1 jump from the dismount of the dogwalk, he has surely introduced the wrong course option into the pipe tunnel after the first jump.

Odd and Unique

I sat down and designed this course just for this blog entry. I wanted something that would allow me to do make some important teaching points about the game Power and Speed. Please note that the game has evolved over the years. In the TDAA the game has some important differences from the game that used to be played in the USDAA. For example, in the old USDAA version of the game any fault earned in the Power section was an immediate “E” and dismissal from the field (you’ll understand that terminology after reading the briefing below). In the TDAA version we treat any fault in the Power section as a simple fault which is added to the overall score.

Power and Speed

Power and Speed, a British import game, is the Iron Dog competition of dog agility games. The game demonstrates the ability of the handler to exercise tight control (power) through a part of the course, then show loose control (speed) over another part of the course.


Each handler and dog runs a course that is split into two sections: Power and Speed.

Power – The Power section typically consists of technical obstacles; contacts, and weave poles. The Power section may also contain spread hurdles or other specialty hurdles.

The Power section is un-timed. Consequently the start-line is positioned between the last obstacle of the Power section and the first obstacle of the Speed section. If the time is getting close to the course time the timer is instructed to watch the dog. If the dog’s time exceeds the course time, the dog will still be allowed to continue on the Speed section, but there will be no score awarded.

Any faults earned by the dog will be added to the dog’s score. For example, if the dog misses a contact or earns a refusal on a contact obstacle, his score would be 5 for the Power section. Obviously, the ideal score for the Power section is 0.

Speed – The Speed section contains a straightforward Jumpers sequence. The goal is for the dog to run the course as fast as possible, preferably with no faults.


Scoring for Power and Speed is Time, Plus Faults: faults from the Power section plus time from the Speed section plus faults from the Speed section. The dog with the lowest score wins.

Power and Speed is judged under the performance rules respective to the venue, and level or class of the dog in competition.

Blog1010 TDAA

Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston The web store is up and running. You’ll find in the web store The Book of Agility Games, an invaluable reference to clubs engaged in league play.

Petit Prix 10 Event Winners

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We’d finally like to recognize the 10 Event Winners from the 2014 Petit Prix East tournament: 2014 Petit Prix 10 Event Winners

See you all next year!


2014 TDAA Petit Prix ~ Latrobe, Final Results

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Final Results after Round 10, Run ’til You Drop: 2014 Petit Prix Scoring FINAL

Run ‘til You Drop



The objective of Run ‘til You Drop is to accumulate as many points as possible, within the allotted time, and finish on the teeter before time expires.

Time starts when the dog crosses the start line. Time ends when the dog performs the teeter. If the teeter is performed before the horn sounds then the dog’s points are doubled.  The teeter must be the last obstacle performed.  There is no penalty for going over time other than the doubling bonus cannot be earned.

Big Dogs (12″ – 16″) have 30 seconds; Small Dogs (2″ – 8″) have 33 seconds.

  • Obstacle Point Values are:
    Jumps – 1 point;
  • Tunnels/Tire – 2 points;
  • Weaves and A-frame – 3 points;
  • Teeter – 0 points

All obstacles can be taken only twice successfully for points.  If a bar is dropped during the run, the jump is out of play.

The teeter is live at all times, and will count as the last obstacle if the dog commits to it with all four paws. Time stops when the teeter plank touches the ground.

Scoring and Qualification

Run Til You Drop is scored Points, Then Time.

A dog qualifies scoring a minimum of 28 pts.

Petit Prix Results through Round 9

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Almost done…here are the results through Round 9: 2014 Petit Prix Scoring Rnd 9

The round 9 course/game follows.

Pinball Wizard



The goal is to accumulate as many points as possible within course time: 50 seconds for 12/16; 55 seconds for 4/8.

The start obstacle is the dogwalk (either direction). After completing the start obstacle, the team will continue to accumulate points by performing obstacles of the handler’s choosing. Obstacles may be completed only twice for points. No obstacle may be taken back-to-back.

Obstacle values: Jumps 1 pt; tire, chute, weaves, and tunnel (other than a Bonus) 3 pts; Contacts 5 pts.

Once the start obstacle has been completed without fault the trigger obstacles become active. The designated jumps are the triggers. To earn the bonus (triple all points) the dog must take the trigger and perform the bonus obstacle. Both are bidirectional. The bonus may be earned three times during play.

To re-activate the triggers after completing the bonus, at least one point must be earned. At the whistle the dog should be directed to the table to stop time.

On any fault the triggers become dormant and can only be reactivated when the dog again completes the start obstacle.

Aside from routine performance faults, the dog will also be faulted for taking a bonus obstacle without taking the trigger; taking an obstacle between the trigger and the bonus (including back-jumping the trigger).

If a trigger bar is knocked, that trigger is out of play for the rest of the game. The remaining trigger may still be used.

Scoring and Qualification

The table is live throughout play. If the dog touches the table it is a tilt and play ends.

To qualify: 50 points for Games 1; 100 points for Games II; 150 points for Games III.

Petit Prix Results through Round 8

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The cumulative results through Round 8: 2014 Petit Prix Scoring Rnd 8


Lucky 13



The objective of Lucky 13 is to collect as many points as possible while correctly performing a total of 13 obstacles (no more and no less).

On the course map the number next to the obstacle is its’ value. An obstacle with a single number is bidirectional. An obstacle with numbers on either side may be taken in both directions for the numbered value. Each number can be performed only once.

Course time is 50 seconds for big dogs and 55 for small dogs. Time begins at the start line and finishes at the table. The table is live after the dog has scored 1 point.

Key points

Each bi-directional obstacle may be done once in each direction for points. Each directional obstacle correctly will count as one of the 13 obstacles.

Repeated obstacles will not count for the obstacle count or assigned points

A faulted obstacle is included in the count of 13 obstacles but will receive no points.

Scoring and Qualifying

Lucky 13 is scored points, less faults, then time.

  • Games 1 needs 102 points
  • Games II needs 128 points
  • Games III needs 154 points







The objective of Gamblers is for the dog and handler team to accumulate as many points as possible in the allotted time and then to perform a designated gamble.

Gamblers is a two-part game: the opening point-accumulation period and the gamble period. Time starts when the dog attempts the start jump in either direction.

12″ and 16″ dogs have 25 seconds in the opening and 16 seconds for the gamble.
4″ and 8″ dogs have 28 seconds in the opening and 18 seconds for the gamble.

Obstacle Values:

  • Jumps – 1 point;
  • Tunnel/Tire/Chute – 2 points;
  • Weaves, Teeter, A‑Frame – 3 points; Dog Walk – 5 points.
  • A successful gamble will earn 25 points.

Obstacles can be taken only twice for points.  Back-to-back performances are permitted.

If a gamble jump is taken during the opening point-accumulation period and the bar is dropped, this bar is not reset, and the gamble is negated.


Gamblers is scored Points, Then Time.


A dog must score a minimum of 13 points in the opening and successfully perform the gamble to qualify.




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