The TDAA’s Western Petit Prix will soon commence in Castle Rock, Colorado. This is a beautiful part of the world at the very foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The Petit Prix will be held at the Douglas County Fairgrounds in the Indoor Arena:

This is a continuing series featuring the games of the TDAA’s Western Petit Prix in 2016. Today we’ll have a look at the Box Game, a numbered course that features several opportunities to earn bonus points for modest distance challenges.

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


The Box Game is the invention of USDAA judge, Brian McGunigle. John Finley of Columbus, Ohio will judge the Box Game at the Petit Prix. This game is scheduled for the morning of May 21st 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.


The objective of the Box Game is to run a numbered sequence while earning bonuses for several distance challenges. The distance-challenge eligible for bonus is specifically when the dog must go out of the box… with the handler staying inside the box.

Central to the course is a large boxed area which the dog and handler will enter after completing jump #1. Outside of the box are five different distance challenges. Each time the handler sends the dog out of the box and completes the send, a bonus of 5 seconds will be deducted from the dog’s score.

No bonus will be earned for an individual challenge if the handler steps out of the box, or if the dog earns a fault during the send.

Scoring and Qualification

The Box Game is scored Time, Plus Faults, Less Bonus. To qualify, the team must be under the adjusted Qualifying Course Time for their level:

Games I              4″ & 8 ” dogs            63     Seconds

12′′ & 16′′ dogs          58     Seconds

Games II            4″ & 8 ” dogs            49     seconds

12′′ & 16′′ dogs          42     seconds

Games III           4″ & 8 ” dogs            27     seconds

12′′ & 16′′ dogs          25     seconds


It’s a follow the numbers game, so any tips as to strategy clearly should be directed at how to effectively direct a dog to work at a distance.

Please note that on our web store is a series of books entitled The Joker’s Notebook which are full of step-by-step instructions for teaching a dog to work at a distance. So rule number one in your strategy should be train your dog! But don’t you know the Joker’s Notebook shows a couple years of distance training exercises and escalations. We only have two weeks until the TDAA’s Western Petit Prix. Maybe we should focus on a tip or two that will help you be successful in a simple game like this:

  1. Be the architect of the dog’s path ~ Mostly this is a matter of understanding where to place your corners. Setting a good corner of approach into a send will substantially improve your chance for success.
  2. Kentucky Windage ~ While we’re on the subject of corners and lines… you should know that a dog ahead of the handler tends to curl back to the handler’s position. So a good handler will bend the line of a send so that as the dog curls back towards the handler the curl brings the dog to the target obstacle, rather than off of it. [This is rather like the Kentucky rifleman adjusting his shot to incorporate the pressure of the wind.]
  3. Standing still is very seldom an effective distance strategy. You should find a way to move your feet. If you are sending out of the box… you should send to the obstacle on the edge of the box so that you’ll still have room to move in the direction of the send outside of the box.
  4. Give good information to your dog (don’t keep secrets). If you are sending the dog to a tunnel you should give a “Tunnel” command early… and feel free to repeat it. You should look at the tunnel, you should point at the tunnel, you should move toward the tunnel. This is how to give good information.Blog1126 TDAA

If your dog faults one of the distance challenges you might as well step outside of the box and pick up the pieces. You just waste time if you persist in trying to fix a problem at a distance after you’ve already lost the bonus.

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston The web store is up and running. 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.