Games of the Petit Prix: In & Out

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At face value, In & Out is a simple follow-the-numbers game. The judge will measure the length of the course and establish a Qualifying Course Time (QCT) based on rates of travel respective to level and jump height. The dog is awarded a bonus of 1 point for every full second under the established QCT.

In & Out is scored Points, Then Time.

Design and Strategy

For a moment I’m going to indulge myself in a discussion of design for this game. In & Out is not an easy design.

IMHO, the In & Out course should feature two concentric rings of obstacles. For the sake of our conversation we have an In loop and an Out loop. The In and Out loop, then, would be a weaving together of the two concentric loops. The In loop should be in one direction; The Out loop should be in one direction; The In & Out loop should feature one or more changes of direction.

A real difficulty in the design of the course is finding smooth transitions between the two loops for the In & Out.

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Each loop is worth a given number of points to be earned, based on a 1-3-5 schedule for performance of obstacles (jumps=1, round things=3; technical obstacles=5).

The rules stipulate that in a faulted loop the dog earns the value of obstacles up to fault, and then the dog must be directed to restart that same loop.

It’s possible that for strategic reasons, the handler might intentionally fault a loop, in order to repeat the performance of a higher value obstacle when restarting the loop. In the example course above, for example, the handler might begin the Out loop and then, on the dismount of the A‑frame, bring the dog back over the #6/11 jump for a wrong course, necessitating a restart of the Out loop. This strategy earns the dog an additional 8 points. The handler might commit this fault a couple times, calculating that he’ll earn more for the repeated obstacles than for the time bonus at the end of the course.

The handler might opt to continue the “faulted loop” strategy until the expiration of time. That would be an interesting gamble and calculation.

The judge’s design might cleverly and intentionally include such a bonus opportunity. Note that if the #13 obstacle had been a jump rather than a 3-pt pipe tunnel, the risk might be marginal, at best.

Note on Timekeeping

Fundamentally when time expires the dog can earn no new points. And so if the dog is still out on the field when time expires it is very important that the time-keeper or electronic equipment signal the expiration of time so that the judge will know to stop awarding points. Aside from the fact that the dog will earn no bonus points for stopping the clock under the QCT, there is no additional fault or down-side to time expiring.

Mind Like a Steel Trap

The judge might like to signal to the scribe the previously calculated value of each loop as the dog finishes. This approach might be very complicated as the dog could fault the second to last obstacle in any loop, thereby earning the value of every obstacle in the loop, save the last two obstacles. The canny judge, with a mind like a steel trap, could simply do the math for each loop, including faults. The only real alternative to this method is to bellow out the value of each obstacle as it is successfully performed.

There’s some call for the handler too, to have a mind like a steel trap. The handler should be completely aware of what obstacle constitutes the “gateway” to each of the three loops. And, on any fault, should direct the dog to that obstacle with all due haste. Note that the gateway obstacles are indicated on the sample course above.

Calendar

Oct  13  , 2016  Petit Prix warm-up workshop  T16057
B&D Creekside Activity Center
Latrobe, PA
Presenter:  Bud Houston
Contact:  Marsha Houston at Houston.marsha@gmail.com
At Petit Prix site, lots of crating space, food on site. Seven games strategy and lecture, run as actual trial with qualifying scores and titles possible.

Oct  14 – 15 – 16 , 2016  Eastern PETIT PRIX number T16999
B&D Creekside Activity Center
Latrobe, PA
Judge:  Brenda Gilday, Emil Pohodich
Contact:  Darlene Schmucker at arcmasterdarlene@comcast.net
Indoors on field turf, lots of crating space, restaurant on site. Three standard, 7 games, tournament scoring (see <k9tdaa.com> blogs for tournament scoring rules, over 3 days.
Premium

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. You’ll find in the web store The Joker’s Notebook, an invaluable reference for teaching an agility dog (and his handler) to work a distance apart.

2016 Western Petit Prix Update ~ May 20

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Today we ran two standard courses and played Dare to Double and Gamblers. Below we have the course maps and games briefings. Look for the individual results under each.

Download the overall tournament standings (as of this evening) here: Petit Prix Standings

Standard 1

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Standard courses shall be judged under rules for performance for the Superior class. Qualifying scores shall be accorded to the titling level of the dog.

Scoring and Qualification

Standard courses shall be scored Faults, Then Time. To qualify the dog must run the course without fault, under the course time. The judge will measure the course to determine the Standard Course Time for each level.

Download Results

Dare to Double

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Briefing

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

Dowload Results

Gamblers

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Briefing

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.

Times:

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

Download Results 

Standard 2

 

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Standard courses shall be judged under rules for performance for the Superior class. Qualifying scores shall be accorded to the titling level of the dog.

Scoring and Qualification

Standard courses shall be scored Faults, Then Time. To qualify the dog must run the course without fault, under the course time. The judge will measure the course to determine the Standard Course Time for each level.

Download Results

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. You’ll find in the web store The Joker’s Notebook, an invaluable reference for teaching an agility dog (and his handler) to work a distance part.

Weakest Link ~ Games of the Petit Prix

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This is the final post in our series featuring the games of the TDAA’s Western Petit Prix in 2016. We’ll have a look at the Weakest Link. This is a dog’s choice game that requires the dog to save or “bank” earn points, or lose them on any fault! This is a dog’s choice point accumulation game features a valuable (but optional) distance challenge.

Following is a sample course with the simple briefing. After the briefing I will provide a short discussion of strategy.

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The Weakest Link is a game invented by Tara Choate. This is a game of point accumulation and strategy. Trisha Stall, from New Lebanon, New York will judge the Weakest Link at the Petit Prix. This game is scheduled for the morning of May 22nd in Castle Rock, Colorado. The sample course shown here is not the course designed by Ms. Stall for play at the Petit Prix.

Briefing

The Weakest Link is a point accumulation game. The object of the game is to score as many points as possible in the allotted time. Only “banked” points will count toward the final score. Points are banked when the dog performs a tire. There are two tires on the field!

Each obstacle taken by the dog must be worth as much as or more than the previous obstacle taken. To keep points earned, they must be “banked” by the dog going through the tire. There are two tires on the field! After points have been banked a new sequence of points-gathering begins. Each sequence banked must be unique, which means there must be at least one difference from any sequence previously banked.

Back-to-back performance of obstacles is permitted, but only back-to-back. A third performance shall constitute a fault.

Unbanked points are considered “potential” points. If a dog commits a fault, all potential points are lost. Faults include dropped bars, missed contacts, taking an obstacle of lesser value than the previous one, failing to bank points before the final whistle. Weaves just must be completed for points, but once started, if not completed before going on it will be called a fault. When a dog faults the judge will call “fault”. The handler then must direct the dog to the first obstacle in a new sequence to earn potential points.

If a bar is dropped on a jump that jump is out of play for the remainder of the game.

This course features a gamble that earns the dog significant bonus points. The numbered sequence (jump, weave poles, tunnel) is worth 28 points.

The gamble must be taken in the order and direction shown, with the handler behind the gamble line. If the dog knocks a bar, or misses a weave pole, or goes off course in the middle of the gamble – the judge will call “fault”. If the handler steps over the containment line the dog is faulted only if the order of performance breaks the weakest link point value rules.

Points values of obstacles:

  • jumps – 2 points
  • tire, tunnels – 4 points
  • contact obstacles – 6 points
  • weave poles – 8 points

12″ and 16″ dogs have 50 seconds; 4″ and 8″ dogs have 55 seconds to accumulate points. When time is up the horn will sound and the dog must cross the finish line to stop the clock.

Scoring and Qualification

The Weakest Link is scored Points, Then Time. Time is a tiebreaker only.

To qualify:

  • Games I – 30 points
  • Games II – 40 points
  • Games III – 50 points

Strategy

The Weakest Link is loosely based on an old television program in which contestants had to answer questions while they accumulated a load of “potential” money. If they missed a question a slightly rude English lady would proclaim “You ARE the weakest link! Good bye!”

In this game, like in the television program, all points earned by the dog are “potential”, until they are banked. And once banked, they cannot be taken from the dog. The only real restriction as to order and direction is that each obstacle performed must be worth as much as or more than the last one taken.

If your dog earns a fault keep your composure! The next obstacle that the dog takes will be the first obstacle in the accumulation of potential points.

The distance challenge or “gamble” gives a bonus that amounts to double (or more) the normal value of the obstacles in it. On this course the “bank” has a clear and easy approach from the last obstacle in the gamble. So, if a dog has nice distance skills the distance challenge is the key to a solid scoring strategy.

The only real restriction in the performance of the gamble is that each sequence must be unique. The savvy handler should plot a variety of preamble sequences that change the overall sequence. The gamble should be considered like a single obstacle which has the highest point value on the floor. Consequently, it must always be the last one taken.

Note that stepping over the containment line isn’t automatically a fault, unless the scoring of obstacles violates the as-much-as-or-more-than rule. Well, if you make the approach to the gamble from a higher value obstacle (like the teeter, in the sample course)… then automatically the judge will have to call “Fault” if the handler steps over the line.

The real question about banking is how often the dog should be directed to go there. The tire has no actual value of its own, and will use up a bit of time to direct the dog through it. Do you run to the bank every time you earn a nickel? Or, do you risk lugging around a big bag of coins (points)… the risk being that any fault will lose the entire bag.

Remember that unbanked points are lost when time expires. It is better to do the longer sequences first, and then finish with shorter sequences in anticipation of the expiration of time. It is better to be caught short of finishing a three obstacle sequence than it is to be caught short on a fifteen obstacle sequence.

Be aware of the proximity of the bank any time you direct the dog to a high value obstacle. It’s possible to trap yourself well away from a tire with no reasonable approach. In the sample course, for example, if you take the A-frame from the back of the field to the front… you are slightly stuck (though it might be very possible to turn the dog around on the dismount and head for the teeter to save the points). Also, since the judge has allowed back-to-back performances, the handler might just turn the dog around and take the A-frame in the opposite direction.

As in any point accumulation game, you should find nice logical flow for the dog so that you can move smoothly with your dog and rack up points at the dog’s best working speed.

Blog1129 TDAA

Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. You’ll find in the web store The Joker’s Notebook, an invaluable reference for teaching an agility dog (and his handler) to work a distance part.

Wild West Pinball ~ Games of the Petit Prix

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This is a continuing series featuring the games of the TDAA’s Western Petit Prix in 2016. Today we’ll have a look at Wild West Pinball. This game is about scoring points and choosing an efficient path for the dog.

Following is a sample course with the simple briefing. After the briefing we’ll study the possible strategies for such a game.

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Wild West Pinball is a game invented by Ilse Rukis. This is a game of point accumulation and strategy. Trisha Stall, from New Lebanon, New York will judge Wild West Pinball at the Petit Prix. The game is scheduled for the afternoon of May 21st 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.

Briefing

The objective of Wild West Pinball is to accumulate as many points in possible in the time allotted. This is a dog’s choice game. Obstacles may be taken in the order and direction of the handler’s choosing.

The objective of Wild West Pinball is to accumulate as many points in possible in the time allotted. This is a dog’s choice game. Obstacles may be taken in the order and direction of the handler’s choosing.

Time begins when the dog takes the Tire/Slingshot (0 points):

  • 45 seconds for 12″ &16″ dogs;
  • 50 seconds for 4″ & 8″ dogs.

A horn will blow when time expires. The clock continues to run until the dog puts at least one paw on the table. The table is always live (TILT!).

Point Values

  • Gold Bone Tunnel (Chute) – 100 points
  • Silverton Mining Tunnels – 150 points. Must be taken in order and direction shown
  • Cowdog Cliff Hanger (Teeter) – 150 points. Must approach from between the 2 C-shaped tunnels (without taking either tunnel). The dog may not earn points on the Cowdog Cliff Hanger immediately after taking the Silverton Mining Tunnels.
  • Brekenridge Ski Slalom (Weave Poles) – 150 points. Can be taken in either direction.
  • Pikes Peak Trail – 100 points. Must be taken in order and direction shown.
  • Millenium Bridge – 200 points. Can be taken either 1a to 2b, or 2a to 2b.
  • Golden Nuggets (unnumbered jumps) – 10 points each, bi-directional
  • Slingshot (Tire) – 0 points

Faults: 10 points for knocked bars, missed contacts. Doing sequences incorrectly is not faulted; it’s just wasting time. Knocked bars are not reset, and are out of play for the rest of the run. Popping out of the weaves is not faulted, but credit will only be given if they are restarted and completed.

Obstacles and sequences may be taken only twice for points. Back-to-back performances are permitted. Bonus obstacles and sequences that are faulted will result in no points for that attempt. Weaves must be completed without fault. There will be no partial credit given for incomplete sequences. Unnumbered jumps (golden nuggets) may be taken as many times as desired.

Scoring and Qualification

Wild West Pinball is scored Points, Then Time. The most points wins. Time is tie breaker. To Qualify:

  • Games I – 400 points
  • Games II – 500 points
  • Games III – 600 points

Strategy

This game will be played on Saturday afternoon. Some competitors will get caught looking past Wild West Pinball, because the game is fanciful and silly looking. It would be a very good idea to take serious stock of this game.

The handler’s obligation is to devise an efficient path to score the most possible points in the time allowed by the judge. For the purpose of the Petit Prix the handler shouldn’t be overly transfixed by the 600 points required for a Games III qualifying score. Almost certainly the top scores will be 1000 points or more.

If your strategy ever features more than a couple of obstacles that don’t score bonus points, then the strategy is probably flawed.

Find a path that flows and allows the dog to move at top speed. A course that is complicated by fussy micro-management can’t do anything but slow the dog down.

The interesting bit in this course is the approach to the Cowdog Cliff Hanger which is worth 150 points for a simple performance of the teeter. The cliff hanger bonus can only be earned by passing between the pipe tunnels (called the Silverton Mining Tunnels) without taking either. If the handler is trying to make the approach to the cliff hanger and the dog takes one of the tunnels, then the handler might as well stay in and score the points for the Silverton tunnels. But then, in order to make the cliff hanger eligible for points again, the handler will have to take the dog out of the area of the tunnels (perhaps doing the jump on the side away from the teeter) before making the attempt again.

The high value bonus sequence on this course is the Millenium Bridge, valued at 200 points. The obstacles that make up the Bridge are slightly different in two different directions. It might be a good idea to earn these points early in the run. Though it’s worth remembering that the dogwalk can be a time consuming obstacle and missing a contact will put a dent in the dog’s score (no bonus, plus 10 faults).

Please note that the table is live at all times (Tilt!). It’s a very good idea to keep the dog well away from the table until the time whistle blows. There’s not much down-side to going overtime, as time is a tie-breaker only.

Blog1128 TDAA

Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. You’ll find in the web store The Joker’s Notebook, an invaluable reference for teaching an agility dog (and his handler) to work a distance part.

Twister ~ Games of the Petit Prix

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This is a continuing series featuring the games of the TDAA’s Western Petit Prix in 2016. Today we’ll have a look at Twister, a mostly dog’s choice game that requires the handler to count, and make timely changes of direction.

Following is a sample course with the simple briefing. Following the briefing is a short discussion of strategy for this game.

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Twister is a game invented by Ilse Rukis. The game has a modest element of strategy but will be, once underway, a test of extension and collection. John Finley of Columbus, Ohio will judge Twister at the Petit Prix. This game is scheduled for the morning of May 22nd. The sample course shown here is not the course designed by Mr. Finley for play at the Petit Prix.

Briefing

Twister is a point accumulation game with multiple changes of direction on a circular course consisting of inner and outer tracks. The course is not numbered.

The game begins at the Start line and on the outer track. The handler may choose a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction or either side of the Start line to begin. After successfully completing five obstacles, the team must turn and take four obstacles going in the other direction on the inside track; then reverse back to the outside for five obstacles; and reverse back to the inside for four obstacles. This dizzy scamper continues until time ends.

A run with no dropped bars or wrong courses shall earn the dog a 50 point clean-run bonus.

4″ and 8″ dogs have 43 seconds; 12″ and 16″ dogs have 39 seconds. The judge shall count out loud the completed obstacles. Play continues until the horn sounds, whereupon the handler must direct the dog to the finish line.

Knocked bars are not reset and the jump is not counted as part of the outer or inner track required to be completed prior to a turn. Consequently the handler must continue in the correct direction until the required points are earned for that track.

A wrong course shall be defined as: a) taking an extra obstacle on the current track (going over the allowed count); b) taking any obstacle after a missed/skipped obstacle; or c) reversing direction to the alternate track before the scoring track is finished. On any wrong course the dog will lose the clean run bonus.

Refusals are not faulted on jumps or tunnels: The handler might skip the run-by obstacle; but the dog will lose the clean-run bonus.

On the time-keepers horn the handler must direct the dog to cross the Finish line.

Scoring and Qualification

Twister is scored points, then time. The team with the most points wins. Time is tie breaker. Points are earned in a doubling manner:

  • First 5-set of outer obstacles: 10 points
  • First 4-set of inner obstacles: 20 points (total 30 points)
  • Second 5-set of outer obstacles: 40 points (total 70 points)
  • Second 4-set of inner obstacles: 80 points (total 150 points)
  • and so for forth …To qualify a dog must earn a score respective to level:
  • Points are awarded for partial completion of a loop if the whistle blows before a loop is completed: 1 point for each obstacle in the partial loop.
  • Games III  150 points or better
  • Games II   120 points or better
  • Games I     70 points or better

Strategy

The first thing you must do in Twister is choose the direction you will start your dog. You can go clockwise or counter-clockwise… and you can take the Start line in either direction.

Aside from the obvious requirement that you count obstacles as your dog performs them, this is largely a game of extension and collection. When in extension you want the dog opening up and running; when in collection you want the dog to shorten his stride and prepare to turn neatly. A lot of study and training and science is given over to extension and collection these days.

In the ideal world you will neatly do the consecutive five-on-the-outside and consecutive four-on-the-inside strategy until the horn or whistle sounds to end scoring. A qualifying score for Games III requires only 5-4-5-4. That performance without a wrong course or dropped bar scores 200 points plus whatever more your dog picks up before time expires.

The world is not always ideal. Be very clear about what any error or fault means to you:

  • Rule #1: Any fault will negate the 50 point clean-run bonus.
  • Rule #2: The count on the current track is never lost or restarted.
  • Rule #3: Once the clean-run bonus has been lost, it cannot be lost again.

Let’s look at what these rules mean in several scenarios:

  • Dog drops a bar ~ The jump does not add to count of your current track. Continue on! The clean-run bonus has been lost.
  • Dog reverses from one track to the other before the count was finished ~ This is a wrong course, the judge will not resume the count until your dog has returned to the correct track [and it frankly does not matter what obstacle you go to on the correct track.] The clean-run bonus has been lost.
  • Dog takes an obstacle more than his count on the current track ~ This is a wrong course. The judge will wait for your dog to switch to the alternate track to begin counting for that one. The clean-run bonus has been lost.
  • Dog runs past an obstacle and continues on ~ This is technically a wrong course. The missed obstacle isn’t counted; but the count continues with the next obstacle taken. The clean-run bonus has been lost.
  • Dog runs past an obstacle ~ Refusals are not faulted on jumps and tunnels in the TDAA. The handler should bring the dog around and complete the obstacle. No harm, no fault! But note rule #3, above. If you’ve already lost the clean-run bonus it might be smarter and more timely just to go on without correcting missed obstacles.

Please note that the judge will have a constant cadence, actually counting your obstacles for you as you go. So if you lose track… you might listen to what the judge is saying. However, don’t count on the judge to immediately reflect faults liked dropped bars. It’s more than possible that the judge could blurt out a number for a jump the instant before he realizes that the dog has dropped the bar on that jump. So you should be aware of whether your dog keeps up the bars, or not.

Note that in any game with a finite number of possible scores, time to the finish line might very well determine placements. When that time whistle blows you should direct your dog to the finish line with a real sense of urgency.

Blog1127 TDAA

Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. You’ll find in the web store The Joker’s Notebook, an invaluable reference for teaching an agility dog (and his handler) to work a distance part.

Games of the 2016 Western Petit Prix; Part 1

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The TDAA’s Western Petit Prix shall be held from May 20th to the 22nd, 2016 in Castle Rock, Colorado. This event is hosted by Hosted by Rocky Mountain Agility Associates; Rocky Mountain Agility Dog Training Center, and All Positive Dog Training.

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The games of the 2016 Western Petit Prix shall be:

The Box Game; Twister; Dare To Double; Gamblers; Wild West Pinball; Weakest Link; and Jumpers. There are also three standard rounds scheduled.

I shall endeavor, over the next few days to write an introduction to each of these games. Although a couple of them are very traditional in the agility world, several are known to few agility enthusiasts outside of the TDAA.

I will begin the discussion with the Box Game. The discussion is written to a great extent to future designers of the game.

The Box Game

The Box Game is the invention of USDAA judge, Brian McGunigle. Brian conceived this game for a USDAA Starter/Novice-only trial held by ARFF in Massachusetts in 1999. People said they had fun running the game. One of the club members later reported to Brian to say they had subsequently used it in class for training.

Briefing

The dog is required to perform the course in the order and direction specified by the judge.

Once the dogs clears hurdle #1, the handler must stay within a containment area specified by the judge until the dog completes the course. A 5-point fault is assessed for each time the handler leaves the containment area before the dog completes the course.

A bonus of 5 points is given to the team for each successful send. This might off-set any failed sends.

Scoring

The Box Game is scored Time, Plus Faults, Less Bonus.

Course Design

A typical example of this game as played in the TDAA is illustrated by this course designed by Donette Belknap:

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This is nearly a duplication of the original design of the Box Game by Brian McGunigle. What often happens with games taken from the Book of Agility Games… the original game is taken literally as a constraining definition of what is and what is not allowed.

While Donette’s design is flowing, and a lot of fun (for dogs that will work at a modest distance), it’s possible that at the Petit Prix the designing judge might test the dog and handler in a more interesting variety of distance skills.

For example:

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This was a course that was not originally designed as a Box Game course. As you can see, it was a Jumpers course (played at the Racine Petit Prix in 2009). This illustrates that the course designer doesn’t really have to begin with the rigid fixture of a box. A better idea is to take a course that already has lovely flow to it, and then find the box that is hidden within it.

Significantly, the distance challenges have become more interesting than the fixed box variation. For example, on the initial send to the #5 pipe tunnel the dog’s trajectory of movement might not be to the correct entry of the tunnel. So it is left to the handler to be a bit of an engineer of the dog’s path, and sweeten that approach.

#7 through #9 isn’t a send to a tunnel at all, but a turn into a three-corner pinwheel that includes a tunnel discrimination.

#11 through #15 is a longer bit that features a wrong-course tunnel option. [The judge might in advance decide that this send is worth more than just 5 points.]

#17 to #18 features a send to the tunnel, but doesn’t really allow the handler to camp on the landing side of the last jump. [The judge might specify that this sequence gives no fault for stepping outside of the box, as the sequence is on the dismount of the course; but give the bonus 5 points if the handler stays inside the box.]

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We’ve borrowed another course (slightly tweaked for the game) just to test the idea that you can take an existing course and “find the box”. The big leap we take is to move beyond the constraint that the Box Game is only and can only be a numbered Jumpers course. You have to admit that this course is considerably challenging.

It’s worth remembering that games at the Petit Prix are not necessarily about qualifying. The games are more invested in differentiating the field in terms of their levels of skill. And the test isn’t always which is the fastest dog.

The course design should be willing to think outside the Box and find some of the rich possibilities for distance work that the game ultimately affords.

Qualifying

Qualifying is typically based on what would be the routine QCT or SCT for a numbered sequence, building in some expectation for success in the performance of the agility team.

Keeping in mind that each successful distance challenge is typically worth 5 points; qualifying in a design of the game with three distance challenges might be:

  • GIII ~ QCT minus 10
  • GII ~ QCT minus 5
  • GI ~ QCT

Note that these qualifying criteria didn’t require perfection from GIII. But the GIII dog will certainly have to be a nifty competitor. For GI, a straight QCT is no giveaway. Remember that the dog is earning a 5 point fault every time the handler steps outside the box. So for GI the QCT merely seeks balance.

Blog1106 TDAA

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