Games – Where Do I Start? ~ by Natalie Kirkwood

You’ve got the hang of this agility thing. You follow the numbers from 1 to 20. As long as your under the Standard Course Time (SCT), then your right. It takes no extra thought, apart from the challenges set by the judge (sometimes this is no small feat, but on with the story). You arrive at your Novelty Event brief, you mention numbers and someone looks at you as if your speaking Chinese. Where do we begin?

Most Games require a bit of knowledge about your own dog to do well in them. The obvious things include their current level of training, ability to reliably perform certain obstacles, etc. But more times than not the most important thing you will need to know is your own dog’s rate of travel (ROT). Their What? I hear you ask. The judge is the only one that deals with that sort of thing, right? Wrong. The judge uses ADAA set ROT’s to work out SCT for normal Agility and Jumping Tests. For Novelty Events the judge will use ROT’s as a guide to set a Game at the appropriate Standard for issuing Qualification Cards. Generally, the strategy involved in Games usually requires you to be in a certain place at a certain time, or achieve a certain amount of things within that time. For you to successful work this out you will need to do a bit of preparation in advance.

I suggest that you organise a log book for any dogs that you compete in Agility with. It need only be a small note book, but it should be more than a scrap of paper that you will more than likely loose. Rule up some lines in it, so as to give yourself some columns. A suggested sample is below.


Date Course
Table Y/N
Deduct 5 sec
if Yes
05/2/01 A 145 48 42.15 N 3.44 O 1 bar down
05/2/01 J 165 55 44.59 N 3.70 I clear
06/3/01 A 150 55 62.60 Y 2.60 O raining/clear
15/4/01 J 130 38 43.33 N 3.00 O slow w/p, 1 refusal
15/4/01 A 147 49 43.23 N 3.40 O clear
21/5/01 A 120 53 37.87 Y 3.65 I 1 bar

From the log book, you can start to see a trend developing. Rover, on a good day, does agility at around 3.4m/s. He is a bit faster for jumping courses. So we need to keep this in mind when we work out our plan of attack for Games. Using Gamblers as our Game for this example. We need to keep in mind how many points we need to accumulate and how many seconds we need to fill in and arrive at the Gamble location as the whistle goes. For a 60 point Gamble, we have a 50 second opening time to work with. We need to get 30 points. Working with 3.4m/s, we need to work out a course for us to take with a length of 170metres. We know our start point and we know where we have to end up, now we just have to work out the rest of the 170m we can travel in that time and keep within the rules of the Game. It takes a bit of practise to get it right but you need to have a starting point. Keep a log of all these attempts as well. It will help you to get better at estimating in the future. Also practise this skill when running normal agility/jumping tests. Calculate out your dog’s time, from your collected data and measure the course by pacing it out as you would in a Game (even if the judge gives you the length, measure it anyway as you may not be pacing exactly 1 metre).

Games require a bit of planning, but when it all comes together, there is no better feeling. Good Luck.