Game Classes

Types of Agility Games

Gamblers consists of a point accumulation period and a gamble for each dog. You will have a certain amount of time for each part, which will be explained in the judge's briefing. In the point accumulation you may take as many obstacles as you can for points. Typically, you can do each obstacle twice for points in any order, though you can't do two gamble obstacles in a row. The different obstacles are worth different amounts of points. The gamble obstacles will be pointed out to you in the judge's briefing. After your time is up in the point accumulation period the timer will blow a whistle, and you start your gamble. You have to stay behind the gamble line and send your dog on without you. Novice gambles are not too taxing -usually something like jump tunnel jump table- often with the handler able to run parallel with the dog the entire gamble. Also, in Novice games (Gamblers, Snookers, Pairs, Jumpers) you are not going for legs: there is no titling in games out of Novice in USDAA, so it's just for practice and fun and there's no real pressure.

Gamblers is a test of the dog's ability to work at a distance from his handler. Watch Masters Gamblers when you're at that first USDAA trial; you'll be inspired.

Snooker consists of an opening sequence and a closing sequence and it's very confusing until you understand it. In the opening, you will have three (sometimes 4) "red" obstacles, labeled with a red flag with a "1" on it. In the opening you must correctly perform a red obstacle, then you must perform (correctly or incorrectly) an obstacle flagged any OTHER color than red, then another red, then any other color, then another red, then any other color. It's quite simple *if* everything goes according to plan; it's when a dog drops a bar on a red flagged jump or makes some other error that you need to be able to think on your feet.

As soon as you've finished the opening sequence, you need to immediately proceed to the closing sequence, which is to take obstacles flagged 2 through 7, in order. Sometimes there will be a combination obstacle.

Snooker is the biggest test of the dog's obedience, and also the biggest test of the handler's ability to make a fairly flowing course from very raw materials.

Pairs Relay is a relay race. The first dog performs the first part of the course, the handler passes a baton to the second handler, and the second dog performs the second half of the course. You can't be paired with yourself: if you don't have friends for pairs partners, just mark on your entry form that you'd like a partner in the draw.

The fourth game, Jumpers, consists of a course of only jumps and tunnels. It is a fast-paced, fun game!

Refer to the USDAA rule book for further explanation of these games.
(Pam Hartley)

Clockwatchers is a game in which two dogs run the same course at once chasing each other around the obstacles laid out in the face of a clock. The two dogs start in the middle of the circle at 3 and 9 o'clock, preferably on tables. They both go forward over a hurdle and they both turn right into the circle course. Once turned right the first obstacle is a hurdle. After the first two hurdles the course can alter according to the judge's fancy. Both dogs out in the circle run clockwise back to their original starting side. A slower dog must give way to a faster dog. Usually dogs of the same level do not catch up unless a major mistake was made. Each dog has a judge, one of whom blows the start whistle. Each dog has a timekeeper. Once the dog is back on the side of the circle that it started from, then the last obstacle before the very first obstacle the dog jumped when first entering the circle (second hurdle from table) must also be a hurdle. (The start/finish for each dog is a T shape of hurdles). Once the dog has jumped the last hurdle in the clock it turns right again, jumps the hurdle in front of the table and finishes back on the same table it started from.

Clockwatchers can require a lot of running from each judge but is a lot of fun and very good for demonstrations with two dogs to watch at once.
(Steve Drinkwater)

In Brace class, do the dogs actually do the obstacles simultaneously or does one dog get to lead and the other follow?

The answer is "however you can get the 2 dogs to do it." Having seen many pairs of dogs on a Brace course, each set of dogs sort of decide themselves if "someone is going to lead/someone follow" or "you're not beating me over that jump!" for execution of the course. Thus the only contact used will be the A-frame, and it will be set to a lower height; so just in case it's being done side by side there is room for both dogs! It's when it comes to the short set of weave poles that it becomes interesting- someone's got to take the lead there, or do one dog at a time. As the handler, you don't have much choice! It's just as much fun to watch as it is to run!

It's interesting to watch matched breeds, or two totally different breeds. One of the most fun pairs to watch was a Rottweiler and a Pug - the Pug had the lead every once in a while! Some people even borrow a dog to do it with their dog - you can tell the dogs who are "best friends" by their ability to do agility together!
(Darlene Woz)

A distance gamble sends the dog out to perform a sequence of obstacles while the handler is constrained by an arbibrary line (which he must not pass). These gambles might include, while the dog is away from the handler, discrimination, changes of direction, and complex obstacle performance.

A timed gamble is a clever means of separating a handler from his money at a great distance. These gambles might involve finishing a sequence at a time closest to the handlers guess. It's a familiarization class typically, and usually demonstrates no special skill in the sport. (Bud Houston)

And then we have even a third variation where the dog continues to earn points during the gamble time (perhaps even double points if the judge has specified that) merely by performing obstacles--distance does not have to be involved. However, if the dog fails to cross the finish line in the time specified, the handler loses all his gamble points or even all his points, depending on the rules being used. For example, the dog has 30 seconds to accumulate points as in an ordinary gamblers class; a whistle blows signifying the beginning of the gamble period. We'll say that the dog then has 10 seconds to accumulate points and all obstacles are worth double their original value. However, if the dog doesn't cross the finish line in under 40 seconds he loses ALL his points. (Monica Percival)

Here's a game called Trim the Tree that's perfect for Christmas. Create a random agility set with various point value assigned to each piece of equipment (like gamblers). In the center place a naked Christmas tree. In box laid out on the ground (or in a box) place a number of very cheap ornaments. The object of the game is that the handler must hang an ornament on the tree everytime the dog completes an obstacle. so the sequence would be obstacle, ornament, obstacle, ornament, . . . Points are given for each obstacle successfully completed (as a kicker allow only one success per obstacle) and for each ornament that remains on the tree at the end of the run. If two obstacles are taken without an ornament being hung in between, the dog is whistled off the course (or two ornaments in a row). Time the event at, say, 45 sec. per dog. Special awards could be made for most broken ornaments or most ornaments falling from the tree. Awards for "watering" the tree are, of course, optional.
(John Ostrowski)

A game being introduced to AKC is CDS, which stands for Come, Direct and Send, and is best described as a combination of a Jumpers and Gamblers course. The courses are jumps and tunnels, plus weave poles in Open and Excellent. The Come is just a lead-off at the start line, where the handler has to go past the plane of the second or third jump before the dog can leave the start line. The Direct is a mid-course gamble sequence of two to four obstacles that the dog has to do while the handler is behind a line. The Send is a send-away over the finish line from the second- or third-to-last jump (the opposite of a lead-off at the start). The CDS sequences are to be progressively harder with advanced classes, so for example Novice would have a 1 jump leadout, do 2 Direct obstacles, and be Sent from the plane of the second-to-last jump. Excellent may have to Come over 3 jumps, have 4 Direct obstacles and be Sent over 3 jumps, or something similar. If the dog does not perform one of the CDS sequences correctly youget a "U" for that part, which is an Elimination. Turning away from the obstacle to look at the handler is considered a "refusal" and would be scored a U, and runouts or off-courses are also Us. Essentially to complete a sequence the dog has to do the obstacles correctly without any pauses or mistakes to not get a U. The rest of the scoring is the same as a regular course (and 85/100 qualifies). There are also set course times that vary with level and jump height in Open and Excellent; Novice is always 2 yps.
(Sue Fregien)

The Land Rover Drive / Barbour Jumping class is for Intermediate dogs only (I think) and involves the handler driving round a few cones in a Land Rover, parking it in a 'garage' jumping out and then running their dog round a jumping course.

Power and Speed is closer to Irondog agility! The course is split into two sections Power and Speed (surprise, surprise!). The Power section contains all the contact obstacles, the weaves, the long jump, a spread, the tire and the tunnels. The obstacles are laid out so that they are difficult - tire at minimum distance after the chute tunnel, spread at maximum at right angles to the dog walk off contact, the long jump at maximum spread at the minimum distance after the A-frame off contact, but you have as much time as you need (or a very generous limit). If you complete the Power section with no faults you are allowed to continue to the Speed section which is a straight forward jumping course of 11 single jumps.

Essentially the course is judged on time and faults in the Speed section since in order to get through to this section you must complete the Power section fault free.

(Tony Dickinson)

Watered Down Knock Out

Looking for a unique game for your next club activity?

Set two short identical sequences side by side (nothing too difficult) They can actually, shared one row of jumps, course 1 used it going down field, course 2 used it coming back.

Here's the fun part!

Run two fifty-foot sprinkler hoses down the center of each sequence. These hoses randomly spurt up 6-8 ft. streams of water all over the courses.

Now here's the rub: instead of the winner advancing, it is the loser who advances to the next round, so the more a handler loses time, the more often they run the course, the wetter they get!

It's a great game for kids and adults on a hot day. It's a blast too!

(Stephen Lewis)

Fido Follies Games

The NADAC Fido Follies Team Event was held in Graham, WA. Courses were designed by Gordon Frazier with Lori Vanderburg. The rules are as follows with clarifying comments are enclosed in []. The teams consisted of four dogs and handlers (in costume). Teams jumped at the jump height of the team's shortest dog.

Hurry Up and Wait

Hurry Up and Wait is a relay consisting of two separate legs, with exchange areas on opposite sides of the course. Each leg will be taken twice by a team. Team members will determine beforehand who will do which leg.

First leg [jump, jump, dog walk, tunnel, pause box, tunnel, tire.]

The first leg includes a pause box for the dog and handler. The handler is supplied with a bucket of six tennis balls and a target [tire jump] some distance away. The idea is for the dog to stay in the pause box while the handler tries to throw the tennis ball through the target. It is possible that some dogs may want to leave the pause box while you are doing this. There are no faults for this, but they must be in the box when you are throwing for you to earn bonus points. You may continue on the course after either (1) knocking down the target or (2) throwing all six balls -- one at a time, please. Successfully throwing through the target will earn you a bonus of twenty points. [This leg resulted in tennis balls being scattered around the second leg section of the course.]

Second leg [jump, A-frame, jump, jump, pause box, weaves, jump, tunnel, jump, chute.]

After completing the first leg, the handler hands the baton off in the exchange area [actually we did high five hand slaps, no batons] on the far side of the course. The second handler and dog then do the second leg. This time when you reach the pause box the dog must stay in the box while the handler performs a short agility course consisting of weave poles, a jump set at your team's regular jump height, and a tunnel. If you fault, you will be faulted the same as your dog would have.

If your dog stays in the pause box, you get to continue on to the end of the course. If your dog strays from the box, then you must finish your obstacles, then take your dog through them as well. In other words, the only fault for your dog leaving the pause box is that it will take more time to finish the course.

Handler number two passes the baton [high fives] in the near-side exchange area and the process is repeated.


Faults are the standard NADAC/ASCA ones, and scoring is time plus faults.

Tire Rotation

Tire Rotation consists of a standard agility course, run in relay fashion. As in the other relays, baton exchanges [high fives] must take place while both of the handlers and their dogs are in the exchange area. Your teammates will take the place of some of the obstacles.

Use Funoodles(c), a toy designed for use by children in pools. It is a long, flexible foam tube with a short sleeve on one end.

[The whole course goes like this: jump, teeter, tunnel, A-frame, jump, human-weaves, jump, tunnel, human-broad jump, jump, jump, jump, human-tire.]

Obstacle #7 consists of three handlers holding three Funoodles(c) vertically. The fourth handler must get his dog to weave through these poles. After he has done so, one of the other handlers heads for the exchange area to get his dog out of an ex-pen or crate, because he is the next one up. [Helpers were allowed to hold the waiting dogs.]

The two remaining handlers move over to Obstacle #10, which consists of them holding their tubes down low to but not touching the ground, forming a sort of broad jump. After the dog has completed that obstacle, one of the handlers moves back to the Obstacle #7 area to get ready to be human weave poles again. The remaining obstacle-handler moves to the Obstacle #14 area.

Obstacle #14 is a soft of tire jump, hence the name of this game. It consists of the handler bending his Funoodle(c) into a circle, securing it in its sleeve, and holding it off the ground for the dog to jump through. Once it has, he heads back to Obstacle #7. The first handler-dog team hands off the baton [high fives], then the handler crates his dog, grabs his Funoodle(c), and trots out to the weave pole area. [Actually you had to sprint to get there in time.]

A successful run of Tire Rotation will resemble carefully controlled chaos.


Scoring is time plus faults basis, with standard NADAC/ASCA faults being used. The one exception is that during execution of the "special" obstacles #7, #10, and #14, handlers will be allowed to touch their dogs. Please do not abuse this privilege.

Special obstacle areas will be marked off on the ground; the human-obstacles must be built within that area.

(Joan Armstrong)

Here are a few games for your next agility get together that you might like to try.

Before the game set a fairly simple course.† Make it easy,† but add a trap if you want. Connect two tunnels for a really long tunnel and make a trap next to it so if the dog and handler goes off course they are really far off.† Jumps are set lower than usual.

Take 3 x 5 cards and write challenges on them. Each handler draws a card before their run and has to do whatever it says. This was the fun part!!†

Here are some examples:

**You better have a really great dog,† for every fault you get AS YOU RUN THE COURSE you have to remove a piece of clothing as you run† (not watches or jewelry).

**Agility is all about concentration and focus--as you run we will try and distract you with catcalls, clapping whistles, bouncing ball and offering food.

**Are you multitalented?† Run this course while singing† "How much is that doggy in the window" and saying nothing else.

**You have to be prepared in agility. Run 1-2-3 and put on what is in the mystery bag at 4, then 4-5-6 etc† Place 4 bags on the course with raincoats, huge boots, floppy hats etc.

**Run the course holding a Dixie cup of water in each hand.

Use your imagination in creating the cards. It is hilarious!!!† Everyone has a good time,† even those† who have to hula on course!!!

(Debbie Sacerich)

Information from AKC on the newly-approved agility class, Jumpers with Weaves:

Mr. Goodman presented a proposal for the approval of a new non-regular class for Agility. The class will be called the "Jumpers with Weaves" class. The intent is to demonstrate the international style of agility competition and prepare handlers for competition anywhere in the world. It would also provide AKC with the means to select future teams for the Agility World Championship. The proposal called for a new Chapter 5 in the Agility Regulations and it would be effective August 1, 1997.

The text follows: Jumpers with Weaves

Purpose: This non-regular class is intended to be a fun yet competitive way to demonstrate a working relationship between dog and handler. In this class, dogs are not slowed down by the careful performance of contact obstacles and can race through a course composed primarily of jumps as fast as economy of handling and movement will allow.

Classes: A club may offer any or all of the following classes but may not offer more than one of each: Novice A, Novice B, Open and Excellent.

All height divisions must be offered regardless of the options chosen.

Obstacles: The obstacles used in the Novice, Open and Excellent level must meet the AKC standard guidelines. The course consists of 13 to 15 obstacles at the Novice level, with six Weave Poles. Open level shall offer 16 to 18 obstacles, with no more than 12 Weave Poles. Excellent level shall offer 18 to 20 obstacles with no more than 12 Weave Poles. The majority of the jumps are Single Bar Jumps. There are no restrictions on the number of Single Bar Jumps that may be used as One Bar Jumps at the Open and Excellent level. Other obstacles that are required, but may be used only once are the Double Bar Jump, Triple Bar Jump, and Weave Poles. The Open Tunnel, Closed Tunnel, Tire and Broad Jump may also be used, although no more than 3 obstacles may be Open Tunnels.

Course Design: The courses should be designed to test a dog's ability to run, jump, weave and maneuver at a fast pace under direction of the handler. The complexity of the course should match the level of the class. Obstacle spacing may be varied to provide challenges and interest, although the nominal spacing should be about 18 feet to 21 feet.

Course Times: The course shall be judged on a time-plus-faults basis, so that the winning dog shall have the lowest numerical score attained in its height division. Time faults in each class shall be assessed in direct proportion to seconds and fractions of seconds lost.

Judging: Each five-point course penalty shall be signaled with a raised fist. Each elimination penalty, or "E" shall be signaled with two raised open hands.

Scoring: Excusals are the same as for the regular classes
Refusal: 5 faults
Wrong Course: Elimination
Knocked Bar: Elimination
Intentional or Beneficial Handler Contact: Elimination

Following a motion by Dr. Smith, which was seconded by Mr. Goodman, it was VOTED (unanimously; absent, Mr. Merriam) to approve the above proposal.

Description of Strategic Pairs

There is one course, numbered 1 through 20 (or whatever). Two dogs and two handlers on course. One dog is considered the "active" dog. The other dog (and handler) is free to move anywhere on course, it is not being judged. The course must be completed in numerical order by either dog. For example, Dog A does obstacles 1,2, 3, Dog B does 4 & 5, Dog A does 6,7,8, Dog B does 9-14, Dog A does 15 & 16 and Dog B does 17-20. There is no baton.

The course should *not* be flowing in design and actually should be somewhat disjointed with lots of 180 turns and varying distances--some of them very long--between obstacles. The idea is for the two handlers to come up with a plan whereby their two dogs can complete the course faster than one dog could have. There are usually one or two mandatory "exchanges" which means the dogs must switch who is the "active" dog on the course.

In the example above, while Dog A was performing obstacles 1-3, Dog B would be in position to immediately start 4 & 5 as soon as Dog A had completed perfomrnace of #3 (the judge must define what constitutes completed performance). While Dog B does 4 &5, Dog A moves into position to do 6-8 and so on. If all goes according to plan, it can be a wonderfully fun event to watch because the timing involved must be perfect and well choreographed.

However, if all doesn't go according to plan, it can be entertaining to watch as well. This class is generally judged under "modifed" Advanced rules which means no refusals and no four paw rule, but missed weaves. If the "active" dog faults an obstacle (missed contact, bar down, missed weave pole) the judge should blow his whistle and the "inactive" dog becomes "active" and must successfully perform that obstacle before the course may be resumed.

The judge must only watch the *obstacles*. There are no "off-courses". He should watch 1,2,3 and then when he looks at 4 & 5 he'll now be watching Dog B. Meanwhile Dog A may have gone "off course" after 3 but that doesn't matter--the judge only watches for faults that occur on the correct obstacles in numerical sequence. In this example Dog A has become "inactive" once Dog B starts over #4 and 5 and can do any obstacles it would like (perhaps there even is an advantage to taking a jump on the way to get set up for #6-8) without penalty. One of the dogs *must* perform each obstacle successfully in numerical sequence before proceeding on. (There are no "failure to perform").

If Dog A got carried away and added #13 after 1 &2 before it did #3, it doesn't matter, it just wastes time. The judge is looking at #3, waiting for a dog (either dog) to perform it.

The class is fairly easy to score: fastest time wins. Faults are penalized by the time it takes to switch dogs. The only number on the scribe sheet should be the total time. There is no SCT. It is a good idea to set a *maximum* course time so that teams aren't on the course for 5 minutes...
(Linda Mecklenburg)


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