Food in the Ring ~ A White Paper

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The most recent rules change in the TDAA allows for touching the dog and giving a food treat to the dog in the ring.

You can find the newest version of the TDAA Rules and Regulations here:

http://www.k9tdaa.com/documents/2018%20Forms/Rules%20and%20Regulations%20v%205.7.1.pdf

Discussion

These new rules on touching and food in the ring defy the conventional wisdom in the sport of dog agility. Indeed, these rules will encourage “training in the ring” rather than relegating it to the status of disqualifying fault.

The ability to tangibly reward the dog for performance with food and touching establishes a bridge between drill-and-practice training and sanctioned competition; and provides a space in competition for remediation of performance issues.

Understanding the TDAA Rules

The judging question shall be whether touching the dog or giving food reward benefits performance. We’ve prepared a short video (not a fancy production) that illustrates a bit of the judging question:

Missing from the video is any discussion of using a food treat to lure the dog into the direction of the course. This would result in a “Standard” fault.

The judge’s understanding of use of food reward in the ring is congruent with understanding how “running into the dog” might be judged. If the handler runs into the dog with no clear benefit to performance or direction, then there would be no fault. If, however, the handler runs into the dog and serendipitously punts the dog into the direction of the course, the dog would earn a fault.

Our Expectations

From our early experience with food in the ring, a judge might expect one handler out of twenty or thirty to actually take time to validate the dog with a food reward.

The judge should include, probably in a “start of day” briefing, some discussion about our rules for food in the ring. Some of the important points to me made in such a briefing might be:

  • If the handler is planning to reward the dog once or twice in the ring then one or two treats should be prepared in advance and held secure on the handler’s person during the run.
  • The food treat should be a solid and not-very-moist piece. Friable treats (like banana nut bread) are discouraged. Oily and smelly bits are also discouraged.
  • Rewarding the dog at the start line is allowed. Rewarding the dog on the table might also be allowed; but it should be very clearly rewarded after the performance.

Very novice handlers might be inept in their use of treats. The TDAA is graced by friendly, helpful and very experienced competitors who will show them how to secure treats (and not run a course with an open bait pouch bouncing kibble all over the floor).

The judge might require a handler intending to use treats to show those treats to the gate steward; and possibly signal to the judge the possibility that the handler will reward the dog.

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. Visit our web store: www.dogagility.org/newstore. 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.

Games of the 2019 Petit Prix: Quidditch

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Hairy Pawter’s Quidditch is the invention of Becky Dean and Jean MacKenzie. The game was played for the first time at Dogwood Training Center in Ostrander, Ohio.

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Briefing

The objective of Quidditch is to perform only three of four sequences, in any order, to attempt to earn a bonus (the Beater) after each; and, if possible, to earn a performance bonus (the Golden Snitch):

  • Hufflepuff (green circles) – 15 points; sequence is bi-directional
  • Ravenclaw (purple circles) – 20 points; sequence and all obstacles are bi-directional
  • Slytherin (blue circles) – 25 points; sequence is bi-directional.
  • Gryffindor (red circles) – 30 points; #1 is bi-directional, otherwise the sequence must be performed as numbered.

When the time expires the dog should be directed to the finish line to stop time.

If a sequence is faulted the handler can immediately reattempt the same sequence or move to another sequence.

The Beater

Upon the successful completion of a sequence the team dog can earn 25 bonus points for the Beater (tire) with the handler staying outside the containment circle. A refusal on the Beater will negate the bonus.

GI dogs are not required to honor the containment circle.

After the Beater, the dog should attempt another sequence. Faulting the Beater does not fault the prior sequence.

The Bludgers Rule

A Bludger is a wrong-course obstacle.

  1. A Bludger performed during the performance of a sequence results in a sequence fault.
  2. A Bludger performed after a sequence on the way to the Beater shall fault the Beater.
  3. A Bludger shall not be faulted; 1) between the start line and the first obstacle of an individual sequence; 2) between the Beater and the first obstacle of a numbered sequence; 3) between the Beater and the finish line (to stop time)

The Keeper

A 50-point Keeper bonus is earned if the dog completes three different individual sequences.

The Golden Snitch

A 75-point Golden Snitch bonus is earned if the dog earns the Keeper bonus and all three Beater bonuses and crosses the finish line before time expires.

Scoring

Quidditch is scored Points, then Time. Time is a tiebreaker only.

Course Times

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Qualifying

  • Games III – 160 points
  • Games II – 135 points
  • Games I – 110 points

Design Notes

Aside from learning the unique jargon of Quidditch, the course designer and judge must think through a variety of issues in the design of the game.

How Qualifying Course Time (QCT) is established

A rational approach to setting course time for nearly any dog’s choice game is to measure what would be a qualifying performance. This variation of Quidditch is quirky, as only three of the four sequences need be performed by the dog.

So, the judge should measure only three of the four sequences.

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In this case, the course designer wheels a strategy for the three highest-value sequences. As you can see, the course measured out at 131 yards. And, as the measured sequence includes three technical obstacles. Times are based on the lowest YPS from the rates of travel for the GIII class.

Had the judge measured all but the Griffindor, 30-point sequence, then the rates of travel should be based on mid-range YPS as only one technical obstacle would be required.

You’ll note that the QCT is about spot on for Superior/GIII rates of travel, but somewhat less for GII and GI; (GI would be nearly two minutes using rates of travel for that level). This decision is a compromise, as lowered points required to qualify for GII and GI takes the pressure off of more novice dogs.

About Bludgers

A “Bludger” is essentially a wrong course. The design for a Quidditch course should feature modest Bludgers on the dismount of any scoring sequence on the way to the Beater (Tire).

To illustrate, let’s look at the Ravenclaw, 20-point sequence:

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The judge has stipulated that for Ravenclaw the sequence and all obstacles are bi-directional. You’ll note that regardless of the direction the dog performs this sequence there is a Bludger/hurdle from surrounding sequences that might attract the dog’s attention on the way to the Beater.

About the Four Houses variation

Quidditch has been traditionally played as a three-sequence game.

Last year as I was leading a games clinic that included Quidditch, a lady asked me “Where is Ravenclaw?” and informed me that “Ravenclaw is my house at Hogwarts!”

Oh lordy mercy!

Now in good conscience I cannot design the game without giving all four houses at Hogwartz a fair chance at the Golden Snitch. So, the lady from Ravenclaw (Cleveland) has forced us to create this variation of the game.

Designing Quidditch

The course designer should be an advocate for nearly perfect nesting between classes. Frankly, if the judge designs Quidditch for the sake of Quidditch you’ll find that the numbered sequences unfold like predictable training sequences; or are downright uninteresting; or sometimes are ham-handed attempts at making challenging sequences.

A better idea, is to nest the game with the set of equipment for the previous course, or the next. Just about any standard course will have within it a Quidditch course begging to be exposed.

The Quidditch course used here was nested from this standard course:

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Some equipment had to be moved, including the A-frame and tunnel (with the attendant 20-tons of sandbags). The Tire should be centered on the game.

The course design should also rotate the tire to compromise between sequences so that the approach to the Beater is as square as possible on the dismount of each.

The number of obstacles to be performed, including all four numbered sequences and four performances of the tire… should amount to about 20.

And, the course designer should find in the design naturally occurring Bludgers. Quidditch is a lot more fun with Bludgers. There’s nothing quite so entertaining as the handler’s howl of anguish when the dog takes a Bludger enroute to the Beater!

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. Visit our web store: www.dogagility.org/newstore. 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.

Refusals in the TDAA

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In the TDAA refusals are called only on contact obstacles, and only in the Superior and Intermediate classes. Three refusals on the same contact obstacle result in a Failure to Perform, and the judge will advise the handler to go on with the course.

Below is an illustration of several performances which shall be judged a refusal.

Turning Away

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If the dog turns away from the obstacle after having begun the approach the performance will be called a refusal. Most judges observe “Woz’s Rule of Thirds” in the space between obstacles, if the dog turns away in the first third, the judge will not call a refusal. If the dog turns away in the final third the judge will call the refusal. The middle third is a judgement call… up to the judge.

If the dog spins in front of the A-frame (in that final third) the performance will be called a refusal.

The definition for “Having begun the approach” can be quite controversial. The easy way to understand it is that the dog is looking at it and moving towards it. If a dog is just moving across the flat undirected with no real focus on the obstacle, then the judge should not consider that the dog has begun the approach.

Crossing the Run-out plane

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The Run-out plane is the back edge of the forward contact zone. If the dog passes the Run-out plan the performance will be called a refusal regardless of whether the dog was ever on the approach.

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When the dog goes wrong course into a pipe tunnel under the contact obstacle the judges call will depend on whether the dog crosses the run-out plane before or after the dog gets into the tunnel. If the dog has to cross the run-out plane before getting in, then the judge will call both the refusal and the wrong course. If the dog is engaged in the tunnel before the run-out plane, then the performance will be called a wrong course.

Significant hesitation

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The performance will be called a refusal if the dog stops on the approach to the obstacle. The dog might stop without putting a paw on the obstacle; or stop after putting a couple paws on. In either case, the performance will be called a refusal.

The real question shall be, what does “significant” mean? A good rule of thumb is to use a span of time to say the word “significant”. If the dog hasn’t resumed the approach it is a refusal. Beware of calling a dog that might be gathering which might cause a balk that is less than significant.

On and Off

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After having committed to a contact obstacle with all four paws the performance will be called a refusal if the dog jumps off. The A-frame, dogwalk and teeter each have their own special considerations for calling the refusal.

On the A-frame the refusal for jumping off will be called if the dog leaves the obstacle before getting all four  paws on the down ramp.

Jumping Over the Up ramp

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If the contact obstacles is the next correct obstacle, jumping over the up ramp will be called a refusal (without regard to whether or not the dog touches the plank).

Please note that if the dogwalk was not the next correct obstacle… jumping over the ramp will be called a wrong course (standard fault).

Dogwalk considerations

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The dogwalk has three planks. The call is different depending on which the dog might leave prematurely. Jumping off the up plank is a refusal. Jumping off the center plank is Failure to Perform. Jumping off the down plank, without touching the contact zone is a standard fault.

Teeter considerations

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It’s important that the judge observe on the Teeter whether the plank moves when the dog leaves the plank prematurely. If the plank doesn’t move, the performance will be called a refusal; and the dog is required to retry the obstacle. If the plank moves, the performance will be called a “fly off” (standard fault), and repeating the obstacle would be called a wrong course (standard fault).

It’s important that the judge make a clear signal for the respective fault, because the handler might not know whether or not the plank has moved. The judges signal is an important clue for what to do next.

Special Considerations for the Beginner class

The Beginner is not faulted for a refusal. And, there is not a four-paw safety rule. The judge should instruct the handler of a Beginner dog that gets on and off a contact obstacle to retry the obstacle. The dog should be accorded three tries before the judge instructs them to go on, whereupon the dog would earn a Failure to Perform.

Subsequent to the Refusal

If the dog refuses a contact obstacle and does not retry the obstacle, after calling the refusal the judge will call a wrong course (standard fault) for the next obstacle taken; and will follow that with a Failure to Perform when it is clear that the handler has no intention of retrying the refused contact.

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. Visit our web store: www.dogagility.org/newstore. 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.

Snooklers :: The Competitors Guide

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Earlier I presented the game of Snooklers, which we shall enjoy playing at the 2019 Petit Prix. The “audience” for the blog was judge and course designer, and not so much for the competitor. Today, I remedy that.

Pardon me if I just call this game Snooker today. It’s uncomfortable switching between the two names for essentially the same game.

The best Snooker players in the world are, arguably, from the U.K., Canada, and the United States. Snooker is intrinsic to championship titling in the USDAA. And indeed, the USDAA requires a Super Q, which is substantially a win at the game. So, the USDAA “Championship” is more than a time over money proposition, grinding away at the Q. Championship means winning.

We’ll begin with this premise: In Snooker 51 points is likely required to win the game. If you aren’t playing for 51 points, then you aren’t playing to win. In case it isn’t obvious, in a three-red Snooker format, 51 is the maximum number of points that can be earned.

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On the sample course published earlier (Snooklers variation)… it is clear that to earn 51 points both dog and handler must own some mad skills.

What might be the strategy to earn three 7’s in the opening? As a competitor, would approach this game with the following logic.

We must first get the #4 red distance challenge. Surely the transition from this red to the #7 dogwalk is problematical; But if I don’t take it first then I will have both that problematic dismount, but also a problematic approach.

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Beginning with the #4 red, I see two possible transitional paths to the #7 dogwalk.

The purple line is slightly shorter and it is a continuous flow. This path just about demand that the handler can out-run his dog… and that, after giving the dog a 12′ head start. At the top of the field the handler must pull the dog through, between jump and the back fence. And, the transition ends with an obstacle discrimination with the pipe tunnel craving the dog’s attention.

The blue line is slightly longer, and it features a hard-aback change of directions after the tire; and two distinct pull-through challenges, presenting plenty of options to the dog.

On With the Show

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Having made the approach to the dogwalk on the blue path the handler needs to step over the containment line to the right as the dog makes his dismount. As the #3 red is bi-directional the handler has the option of either turning the dog away to the left (green line), or drawing the dog in to turn back into the other side of the tunnel (blue line). Personally, I like the blue line here because the transition back to the #7 dogwalk is considerably less cluttered and risky.

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For the final red distance-challenge I would opt for the 2b to 2a send, as it is a nice straight line off the dogwalk. The handler should endeavor to set up for a Front Cross on the dismount to make this send.

The direction that the dog turns after jump 2a is an inscrutable coin flip. The natural turning direction would be to the left (purple line); turning back towards the handler, to the right, would be ideal (green line). What the handler needs to remember here is to run the dog, and not the plan. Whichever direction the dog turns should have a programmed response. And do remember that the containment lines don’t mean anything after the dog has jumped the jump.

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The final calculus is the approach to the #2 jump in the closing sequence. If I had my druthers I’d make the approach from the back-side, as wrapping the dog might be a bit messy. Be mindful that the dog might take it straight on. But, once again don’t run the plan, run the dog and have a prepared response.

Gambling on Flow

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I’ve drawn here a simple 49 point strategy for the game.

I once won a USDAA Super Q with my old boy Bogie (gone a dozen years now <sigh>) on a flow strategy. There were a lot of heavy-hitter Border Collies playing in the 24″ division against my 16½” Sheltie that day. I opted for a flow strategy that won the day, while they all crashed and burned on a greedy 51 point strategy.

It’s a gamble. Do you feel lucky?

 

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Questions comments & impassioned speesches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. Visit our web store: www.dogagility.org/newstore. 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.

Snooklers :: Games of the 2019 Petit Prix

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Designing a Snooklers course can be a challenge to the course designer. A Snooker course is bad enough. But in Snooklers rather than using red hurdles the designer will use distance challenge: [ergo Snooker/Gamblers, or Snooklers.]

These distance challenges should be modest in nature. A tough distance challenge might skunk half the class in USDAA’s Gamblers or in the AKC’s FAST class… and so we should NOT have three distance challenges, each of which invite the proverbial skunk.

I’ll share with you a sample design for this class. I’m assuming TDAA equipment and spacing, on a field that measures 60′ by 70′.

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What strikes me immediately about this class is that the designer and judge must explain the distance challenges in the written briefing. Clarity should not be left to the verbal briefing. I will attempt to describe the three distance challenges in this sample course:

  • Red #1/2 ~ This gamble consists of two jumps only. From the front of the ring it can be taken as 1a to 1b or as 2a to 2b.

    While this distance challenge was originally designed to be taken from the front of the ring only, I decided that design would constrain the number of possible solutions to the game. So, I added a line at the back, making this distance challenge bi-directional. From the back, the distance challenge can be taken 1b to 1a or from 2b to 2a.

  • Red #3 ~ Send the dog into the pipe tunnel from behind one of the surrounding containment lines. #3 is bi-directional.

    While the handler must be behind the containment line, the dog is not required to originate from behind that line. For example, the dog might make the approach to the tunnel from the dogwalk.  If the handler can turn the dog from the dogwalk and into the tunnel—while the handler is on the other side of a containment line—then the dog can turn neat into the tunnel and satisfy the distance challenge.

  • Red #4 ~ Send the dog from jump to tire from behind the line. This distance challenge is also bi-directional; and from the opposite direction the challenge is from tire to jump while the handler remains behind the containment line.

Other performance issues should be addressed in the briefing. For example, on this course the judge might stipulate:

  • All obstacles are bi-directional in the opening excepting #6, a combination obstacle, which must be taken as numbered.
  • All obstacles must be taken as numbered in the closing excepting #2, which is bi-directional.

The Briefing

Modeled after Snooker the written briefing for Snooklers is likely to run a couple pages of dense prose that promises to numb the mind. While there are a lot of Snooker players in the world that only need a couple lines of explanation, the novice Snooker/Snooklers player might very well need the dense text.

Rather than sharing with you the mind-numbing intro to the game, I will show my old “Candy Store” briefing (adapted for this variation of the game):

Candy Store Coupon (Snooklers) Briefing

You’ve been given three coupons for free candy at a chain-store. Only one coupon can be redeemed at any store. Being a clever devil, you decide to visit a different store to redeem each coupon. The three red distance challenges on the course allow you to present the coupons for candy.

If your dog cleanly performs the distance challenge, that means the cashier accepted your coupon. You get to redeem the coupon! There are six different candies in the store, each having a different value, from 2 points to 7 points. You can get any one you want (even the same candy for each different coupon!) You are entitled only to one box of candy only. If you get more than one, they’ll call the police on you. Your game will be over (and you head to the exit).

If your dog faults the distance challenge, that means the clerk tore up your coupon, and you need to go to a different store. If you go out and get a box of candy anyway, they’ll call the police on you. Your game will be over (and you head to the exit).

After redeeming, or attempting to redeem all three coupons, you decide you love the candies and so you will go into the store and buy them all! You’ll pick them up in order, starting with #2 and finishing with #7. If in your haste you break one of the candies (fault an obstacle) your game will be over at that point (and you head to the exit).

Setting the Qualifying Course Time

As a general rule of thumb a little extra time should be accorded for each technical obstacle. The same rule might be applied an any distance challenge. This Snookler’s course will require a longish QCT. The course designer/judge might measure a modest strategy and base course time on that estimation.

For this game, consider something like this:

  • GI small 75 sec ~ tall 70 sec
  • GII small 70 sec ~ tall 65 sec
  • GIII small 65 sec ~ tall 60 sec

Of course, at the Petit Prix we’ll use the bottom line only as all games and courses are judged using Superior rules for performance and rates of travel.

Qualifying, however, might be more generous to the lower levels than the requirements typically used for Snooker, mostly because of the distance challenges. Consider a schedule like this:

  • GI 31 points
  • GII 34 points
  • GIII 37 points

Notes for  the judge

Anything that can happen will happen. It is a wicked burden on the designer to anticipate every situation that arises.

After writing this, it occurs to me that in the verbal briefing at the front of the class somebody is going to ask if they are allowed to call through the distance challenge. Picture the handler taking a long lead-out in order to solve the #4 red. The handler never steps between the containment lines, after all.

The judge’s answer in the verbal briefing becomes codified, superseding the written briefing. And you can just about bet about a third of the competitors did not hear it. This information needs to be in the written briefing.

You might also consider answering this question in the written briefing: At what point on the #3 red can the handler step over the containment line? The answer might be “when the dog is all in the tunnel”. Or, it might be “when the dog has completely exited the tunnel.” Make a choice and put it in writing.

Do you have questions not addressed here? Please share. Inquiring minds want to know.

Designing Snooklers ~ A Found Poem

One of the biggest errors course designers make with games like this is failing to nest the game with courses that run before or after. Un-nested courses tend to add 30 minutes to an hour to the length of the competition day.

A better approach: study the adjoining standard course or game and “find” the game, with minimal equipment movement. This requires some mental gymnastics. But it’s better for the course designer to sweat and fret for an hour than to demand that all the exhibitors endure the long wait between courses that aren’t adequately nested.

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The sample Snooklers course I’ve used here is based very literally on this sample TDAA Standard course:

The course designer should resist the temptation to remove the contact obstacles to find the Snooklers or Snooker course. Hauling contact equipment in and out of the ring by definition is a time-consuming and tedious chore.

On this course we removed the weave poles, a couple jumps, and all the number cones… making the transition between classes something on the order of five minutes.

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Questions comments & impassioned speesches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. Visit our web store: www.dogagility.org/newstore. 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.

2018 TDAA Petit Prix Results

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TDAA’s 2018 Petit Prix championship tournament is designed to showcase top competitors among dogs of small stature in the sport of dog agility and to name a tournament champion in each jump height.

To understand how classes are scored and how dogs advance, refer to:

TDAA Petit Prix 2018 Tournament Rules

For now, the dust has settled and the game is done. Each class played at the 2018 Petit Prix are described below, including for each game and course the top 25 performances.

We would like to extend a special thanks to our judges, Sheri Rockhill and Christina Wakefield for their marvelous design of courses and games, and for their hard work for this intense weekend of competition.

Just In Time

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Briefing

The objective of Just In Time is to accumulate points by performance of obstacles and arrive at the table as close as possible to the expiration of time.

Just In Time is a “dog’s-choice” game. The dog can perform obstacles in the order and direction of his choosing (hopefully, with some collaboration from the handler). Obstacles can be performed only twice for points. Back-to-back performances are permitted.

The points system is 1-3-5.

  • Jumps: 1 point
  • Tunnels, Tire, Weave Poles: 3 points
  • Contacts: 5 points.

Time and the Time Bonus

  • Small Dogs have 33 seconds
  • Large Dogs have 29 seconds

The dog might earn a time bonus for getting to the table after the end of the point-accumulation period.

  • Less than 2 seconds earns 30 time bonus points
  • Less than 4 seconds earns 20 time bonus points
  • Less than 6 seconds earns 10 time bonus points

Unproductive loitering near the table is not permitted and shall result in loss of time bonus points.

Scoring and Qualification

Just In Time is scored Points, Then Time.

To qualify:

  • Games I dogs must earn at least 31 points
  • Games II dogs must earn at least 41 points
  • Games III dogs must earn at least 51 points

Results

We continue to discover in this game that earning the 30 second time bonus likely requires a boldness and instinct to head for the table to stop time before the horn sounds. On the other hand, a bit of luck in one’s pocket isn’t to be completely discounted. Following is an accounting of the performing top 25 performances in the game Just in Time at the 2018 Petit Prix.

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Steeplechase

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Briefing

The dog is required to perform each obstacle at the handler’s direction in the sequence numbered by the judge. Refusals aren’t faulted. Missed weave poles aren’t faulted, as long as they are corrected.

Scoring and Qualification

Steeplechase is scored Time, Plus Faults.

To qualify a dog’s score must be under the Qualifying Course Time established by the judge.

Results

A Steeplechase is typically designed as a fast and flowing numbered sequence which features to specific technical obstacles, the A-frame and weave poles; one of which must be twice performed. Following is an accounting of the top 25 performances in the Steeplechase at the 2018 Petit Prix.

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Standard 1

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Briefing

Standard courses as the Petit Prix are judged under Superior performance rules. However, qualification shall be accorded to any dog that runs without fault at the level for which the dog is eligible, using rates of travel appropriate for that level.

Standard courses are scored Faults, Then Time.

Results

Following is an accounting of the top 25 performing dogs in the first standard course of the 2018 Petit Prix.

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Standard 2

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Briefing

Standard courses as the Petit Prix are judged under Superior performance rules. However, qualification shall be accorded to any dog that runs without fault at the level for which the dog is eligible, using rates of travel appropriate for that level.

Standard courses are scored Faults, Then Time.

Results

Following is an accounting of the top 25 performing dogs in the second standard course of the 2018 Petit Prix.

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Pole Jacks

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Briefing

Pole Jacks is played like the children’s game of jacks. The performance of a short set of weave poles is the bounce of the ball. All other obstacles on the course are jacks and have specific point values:

  • Jumps: 1 point
  • Tunnels and tire: 3 points
  • Contacts: 5 points

After the bounce (doing the weave poles), the team must “pick up” the appropriate number of jacks by scoring an equivalent number of points. The handler and dog team will bounce then score onesies; bounce and score twosies; bounce  and score threesies, and so forth. The team may continue to bounce and “pick up” until time expires.

The most points that can be earned are 7. If the dog picks up 7 before the expiration of time then he must be directed to the table to stop time.

Note: If the dog has scored 7 points and time has not expired, then the performance of any obstacle on the way to the table would fault the 7-point pick-up.

On any fault the judge will call “Fault” and the dog must again bounce (do the weave poles) and then reattempt the pickup number that was faulted. Faults include:

  • Dropped bar
  • Missed contact
  • Repeating an obstacle during the “pick up”
  • Scoring more points than required by the “pick up”
  • Re-entering the weave poles with a number lower than the required “pick up”.

The dog’s time begins when he first makes a “legal” entry into the weave poles.

Performance of the weave poles shall be judged using Beginner rules for performance. Missing a pole does not fault the number just picked up. But, a missed pole or entry must be corrected before attempting the next pick-up.

Scoring ends when the buzzer sounds. The clock continues to run until the dog goes to the table. No points will be earned, or faults called, if the dog takes additional obstacles on the way to the table.

  • Small Dogs will have 65 seconds
  • Big Dogs will have 60 seconds

Scoring and Qualification

Pole Jacks is scored Points, Then Time. Time is a tie breaker only.

To qualify:

  • Games I need a score of 4 (Foursies) or more
  • Games II need a score of 5 (Fivesies) or more
  • Games III need a score of 6 (Sixsies) or more

Results

Pole Jacks was originally developed as a training game. The TDAA has found over the years that it’s a dandy game for competition that tests training foundation, strategic thinking and extemporaneous handling skills. Following is an accounting of the top 25 performances in the game Pole Jacks at the 2018 Petit Prix.

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Weakest Link

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Briefing

The objective of Weakest Link is to score as many points as possible in the time allotted. Time begins when the dog crosses the Start Line (in either direction). Each obstacle must be worth as much as or more than the previous.

Points are banked at the tire. All banked points are kept secure toward the final score and cannot be lost.

After banking points, the dog and handler team start over as long as there is time remaining. Each sequence banked must be unique. There must be at least one difference from any other sequence previously banked. Differences are:

  • Taking or including other obstacles
  • Changing the order of obstacles taken in a sequence
  • Changing the direction of one or more obstacles in a sequence

If a dog faults, all potential (unbanked) points are lost. Faults include:

  • Dropped bars
  • Missed contacts
  • Taking an obstacle of a lesser value than the previous taken obstacle
  • Taking an obstacle out of sequence in the gamble
  • Failing to bank points before the final whistle

When a dog faults, the judge will call “fault.” The handler then can start a new scoring sequence. If a bar is dropped on a jump, that jump is out of play for the remainder of the game, except the jumps in the gamble sequence. If it has not been reset, the dog must be directed between the standards of the jump.

When the time expires the dog should be directed to the finish line to stop time. When time expires no more points can be banked.

Scoring

Scored points, then time. Time is only a tiebreaker. Point values for obstacles performed without fault is:

  • Jumps – 2 points
  • Tunnels – 4 points
  • Contacts – 6 points
  • Weave poles – 8 points
  • Gamble – 16 points

The gamble is bi-directional! The gamble will be considered the high-value obstacle on course as long as the handler doesn’t cross the line; but will counted as individual obstacle values if the handler steps over the line.

  • 12” & 16” dogs have 55 seconds
  • 8”, 4” & 2” dogs have 60 seconds

Qualifying Score

  • Games III – 50 or more points
  • Games II – 40 or more points
  • Games 1 – 30 or more points

Results

Weakest Link is a fun point accumulation game that offers a points bonus for a distance challenge… something for the bold and the brave. Following is an accounting of the top 25 performances in the game Weakest Link at the 2018 Petit Prix.

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Jumplers

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Briefing

A Jumplers course is a numbered sequence with jumps and tunnels that features an opportunity to earn bonuses for solving distance challenges. These bonuses will be deducted from the dog’s total score.

The handler has the option of 1) remaining inside one of two handler areas throughout the dog’s run, 2) inside the combined handler areas throughout the run, 3) running the course as a standard Jumpers course.

The handler may start the course with the dog at obstacle 1, the tunnel, but if they are going to attempt the distance challenge, must move into the handler box of choice before the dog takes the second obstacle.

Scoring

Jumplers is scored Time, Plus Faults, Less Bonus.

Completing the course from within the combined handler areas will earn a 10‑second bonus.

Completing the course from with one of the two handler areas will earn a 20‑second bonus.

Qualifying

Games I small dogs a score of 54 or lower
Games I big dogs a score of 52 or lower

Games II small dogs a score of 49 or lower
Games II big dogs a score of 47 or lower

Games III small dogs a score of 44 or lower
Games III big dogs a score of 42 or lower

Results

Only two dogs earned a bonus in Jumplers, a combination of Jumpers and Gamblers. Following is an accounting of the performing top 25 dogs in the game Just in Time at the 2018 Petit Prix.

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Standard 3

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Briefing

Standard courses as the Petit Prix are judged under Superior performance rules. However, qualification shall be accorded to any dog that runs without fault at the level for which the dog is eligible, using rates of travel appropriate for that level.

Standard courses are scored Faults, Then Time.

Results

Following is an accounting of the top 25 performing dogs in the third standard course of the 2018 Petit Prix.

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Standard 4

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Briefing

Standard courses as the Petit Prix are judged under Superior performance rules. However, qualification shall be accorded to any dog that runs without fault at the level for which the dog is eligible, using rates of travel appropriate for that level.

Standard courses are scored Faults, Then Time.

Results

Following is an accounting of the top 25 performing dogs in the fourth standard course of the 2018 Petit Prix.

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Quidditch

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Briefing

The objective of Quidditch is to perform three sequences, in any order, and attempt to earn a bonus (the Beater) after each:

  • Black circles – 25 points; #5 bi-directional; must be taken as numbered
  • White squares – 20 points; #1 bi-directional; sequence is bi-directional
  • White circles – 15 points, sequence and all numbers are bi-directional

When the time expires the dog should be directed to the table to stop time.

If a sequence is faulted you can immediately reattempt the same sequence or move to another sequence.

The Beater

Upon the successful completion of a sequence the team dog can earn 25 bonus points for the Beater (tire) with the handler staying behind the line. A refusal on the Beater will negate the bonus.

After the Beater, the dog should attempt another sequence. Faulting the Beater does not fault the prior sequence.

The Bludgers Rule

A Bludger is a wrong-course obstacle.

  1. A Bludger performed during the performance of a sequence results in a sequence fault.
  2. A Bludger performed after a sequence on the way to the Beater shall fault the Beater.
  3. A Bludger shall not be faulted; 1) between the start line and the first obstacle of an individual sequence; 2) between the Beater and the first obstacle of a numbered sequence; 3) between the Beater and the table (to stop time)

The Keeper

A 50-point Keeper bonus is earned if the dog completes each of the different individual sequences.

The Golden Snitch

A 75-point Golden Snitch bonus is earned if the dog earns the Keeper bonus and all three Beater bonuses and gets on the table before time expires.

Scoring

Quidditch is scored Points, then Time. Time is a tiebreaker only.

Big dogs have 55 seconds; small dogs have 60 seconds

Qualifying

Games III – 160 points

Games II – 135 points

Games I – 110 points

Results

Quidditch is a delightful and Snookeresque kind of game, and filled with interesting terminology out of the Harry Potter books. Following is an accounting of the top 25 performances in the game Quidditch at the 2018 Petit Prix.

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Championship Round

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Briefing

The Championship Round solely will determine placement at the 2018 Petit Prix. All that has gone before has determined what dogs are eligible to compete in this final event.

The Championship Round shall be judged under Superior performance rules. Qualification shall be accorded to any dog that runs without fault at the level for which the dog is eligible, using rates of travel appropriate for that level.

The Championship round shall be scored Faults, Then Time.

Results

The entire tournament has been about getting into this final round. The slate is wiped clean and these performances tell the tale of champions. Following is an accounting of the performances in the championship round at the 2018 Petit Prix.

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. Visit our web store: www.dogagility.org/newstore. 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.

Agility for Small Dogs

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Dog agility was conceived by John Varley as entertainment at the Crufts dog show in 1978. How could he know then what the sport might become, 40 years later? Those of us who were in the sport back in the day are surely counted as pioneers and innovators. [Of course, in the next breath we might be dismissed as clumsy barbarians.]

Clinging to the notion of innovator: I believed that small dogs and their handlers were in no way challenged in the same way that big dogs and their handlers are challenged by our sport. It’s not only jump height. How tightly a dog turns and how many strides the dog takes between obstacles differentiate the challenges.

Let me put it another way: The handler of the small fast dog has absolutely no concept of the skill and timing precision required of the big fast dog handler when that small dog is being run on big dog courses.

And so, we created an organization that would require the small dog handler to develop and hone those skills… The Teacup Dogs Agility Association (TDAA).

Lessons Learned

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The Teacup Dogs Agility Association has been a laboratory for discovery and learning about 20 years now. Aside from my original vision of “comparable challenge” we’ve learned a variety of other interesting bits:

Inspiring the Lackluster Dog

We have discovered that some dogs that approach dog agility in the “big dog” venues with low enthusiasm will light up and catch afire when doing TDAA. While this phenomenon hasn’t been subjected to a scientific study, I’ve personally concluded that the pace of the action is invigorating to a type of dog.

I’d suggest that even if you can’t/won’t travel to compete in the TDAA, that training sequences can be set up to emulate what we do in the TDAA to find inspiration for the erstwhile lackluster dog.

Sharpening the Handler

The first thing a handler new to the TDAA will say when seeing the nearly miniature field of agility equipment is… “Oh! How cute!”  Catch them coming off their first agility course and they are saying “That was really hard!”

Without question the handler of the small dog, aspiring to master the job of handler in dog agility will learn the necessary skills when the course demands those skills to succeed.

Diminished YPS

The equipment used by the TDAA is diminutive. Small A-frame, teeter and dogwalk. And, I was delighted to discover years ago that they make 16″ pipe tunnels, which are perfect for our purposes.

A dog’s rate of travel might have a lower YPS (yards per second) in the TDAA than in big dog agility; although the dog is actually working at the same speed. Sounds like a contradiction, eh?

There is a good scientific explanation for this. The technical obstacles, contacts and weave poles tend to degrade the dog’s rate of travel. In big dog agility the dog has ample room to make up for lost speed in the vast intervals between obstacles. In the TDAA, where obstacles are spaced in intervals of 8′ to 12′, there simply is not running room to recoup the rate of travel.

Safety

TDAA enthusiasts feel that their dogs are safer when playing in the TDAA, than when playing with the big dogs.

Without completely editorializing the topic, let’s just say that many (American) handlers are unconscious of the menace exhibited by their big dogs. The small dog handler must be constantly aware of both threat and danger when in the big dog agility world, and be proactive to guard and protect their small charges.

When playing in the TDAA guarding the safety of the small dog is a more relaxed duty.

Teeter Fear

If there is an obstacle that we use in the TDAA that can create problems for a dog, it might be the teeter. If a dog becomes fearful on the TDAA teeter, that fear will be generalized into the big dog venues.

The teacup teeter should be considered a “new” obstacle to the dog. It doesn’t really matter if the dog has been trained to a big 12’ plank with a heavy fulcrum. This obstacle should be introduced to even the veteran agility dog with caution and in small stages. It’s a short plank, and it drops quick. When introducing the teacup teeter to a dog the fulcrum might be lowered, and someone should control the tip speed of the board, much as you would for a completely novice dog when introducing the big dog teeter.

Post Script

Forgive me if my rhetoric sounded as though I disrespect big dogs and their handlers in agility. To the contrary! I greatly admire big fast dogs and their handlers. Clearly, small dog handlers deserve the same thrill when they run their own small agility dogs.

 

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. Visit our web store: www.dogagility.org/newstore. 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.

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