Thursday, October 13, 2011


Photo Courtesy of MrDog
Your nervous but your adrenaline is pumping as you hope to successfully complete the obstacle course! At most agility matches and agility trials you and your dog compete in a Regular or Standard agility course. All venues, like AKC, NADAC, USDAA, etc, offer Standard courses and Jumpers. Jumpers is simply a course made up of a series of jumps. Depending on the discretion of the venue holding the trial or match, tunnels and/or weaves may be included in the course. But what if you and your dog want to try something new, something a little more fun ? Not a problem! Most venues, in addition to its version of the Standard course, provide agility games. These are variations of the Standard agility course but with different rules and objectives. These games require strategy and test handler and dog communication, speed and accuracy. Agility games differ depending on the agility organization. The following are some examples of agility games. Just keep in mind that agility games are better suited for more advanced agility students since they tend to be more difficult.

Photo Courtesy of MrDog
FAST is a game created by the American Kennel Club which stands for Fifteen and Send Time. Fifteen refers to the 15 obstacles used in the course while Send Time is in reference to the act of sending your dog away from you and directing them at a distance. Each obstacle is worth a numerical amount. For example, single jumps are worth one point. The maximum amount of points a handler and dog team can earn is 80 points.

Gamblers (CPE and USDAA)
Gamblers is played at agility events sanctioned by the CPE (Canine Performance Events) and USDAA (United States Dog Agility Association). It consists of two sections. The first section is called the Opening. During the Opening sequence the most important aspect is to accumulate points. Each obstacle is worth a different amount of points. The handler directs their dog towards certain obstacles based on the handler’s own discretion. Typically, the handler wants their canine to attempt obstacles that earn more points. When the buzzer rings, the second section of the game begins which is called the Gamble. The Gamble is specifically a "distance challenge" where the handler's position is restricted. Typically, the handler must stand back behind a designated line and direct their dog to complete a numbered section in a sequence that is predetermined by the judge.

Photo Courtesy of MrDog
Snooker is based on a billiard game. There are three or four single, red colored jumps, each worth one point. The other obstacles are worth more points and vary in value depending on the piece of equipment. After your dog jumps over one of the red jumps, he or she must run to the rest of the course and, with your direction, navigate one of the other obstacles, whether it is a contact obstacle or a tunnel. It becomes a back and forth between jumping over the red single point, single bar jumps and running out to the other part of the course to tackle the additional obstacles that are worth more points. After your dog successfully jumps over the three or four red jumps, you move into the closing sequence. At this point, your dog must go over the obstacles in order.

If you have never competed in an agility match or tried an agility game before, you are probably sitting there scratching your head in dazed bewilderment. Most of the games sound more confusing than they are. It is not until you have actually tried the course with your dog, that it begins to make sense. Just as you can’t learn to play an instrument by reading about it, agility must be played to be truly understood. If you are apprehensive about taking your first steps in the world of agility, do it slowly and start by going to a match or trial simply to observe.

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