A Critical Look at TDAA Games

First of all, if you are not a TDAA competitor, you’ll have to understand that we are not limited to a standard suite of games, which is true of all other agility venues that actually have games. How nice and comfortable and tidy it is to play three or four games. That means you can rigidly define everything about the game in terms of judging and scoring and, indeed, strategy for competition.

As I continue to review TDAA courses and games I’ve had to take notice that we have failed in some regard to take a necessary and critical next step in the design and development of our games. And you know, I have to take a big share of responsibility for this. When I chat with a judge about some vision of a game that is fuzzy or not terribly well  thought out… I all too often hear that they got the game right out of the Clean Run Book of Agility Games.

Okay, so I wrote the book.

But in my own defense, I will say this. I wrote the book like 12 years ago. And many of the games in the book were documented based on email correspondences with different people around the world. I frankly made a very earnest effort to make every game a viable game for competition, complete with scoring systems and qualifying criteria.

In any case, we need to take the next step as a community in taking a critical look at the games that we play.

I’ll share with you the definition for a couple of games that show up from time to time in TDAA competition. You’ll note that I’ve taken a rational departure from the scripture and verse of the Book of Agility Games… and thought them through a bit more for the TDAA.

The games documented below are What’s My Line and 12 Tone Row. What might give you quite a shock is the small space for which these games were designed. I probably should share some of the standard courses I designed for this same area. I found it quite a challenge.

The briefings are exactly what the exhibitors will see. There’s clearly more information that will be given in the oral briefing. But they key to a written briefing is to give the information required for the avid games competitor to develop a working strategy well before stepping into the ring for the oral briefing and the walk-through.

What’s My Line



The objective of What’s My Line is to perform all of the obstacles on the field without repeating or omitting any. The dog earns one point for each obstacle his dog performs successfully. Each obstacle has the same value, regardless of the difficulty of performance and regardless of the number assigned to the obstacle.

If an obstacle is faulted, the team will receive no point for that obstacle. And it may not be repeated.If an obstacle is performed twice or omitted the dog will earn a Failure, which will cost one point (deducted from the final score). The four-paw safety rule will not be used on contact obstacles, regardless of the level of play.

Time will be started and stopped at points designated by the judge. A maximum course time can be applied at the discretion of the judge.


What’s My Line is scored points then time. Time is a tie-breaker only. The team with the most points will win.


G1 – 12 points

G2 – 13 points

G3 – 14 points

12 Tone Row



The purpose of Twelve-Tone Row is to accumulate as many points as possible performing obstacles in the order and direction of the handler’s choice. Each obstacle has the value of its number on course. The same obstacle may have
different values, depending on the direction in which it is performed.

Time starts at the Start line and finishes on the table. The table is live at all times. There is no established course time. Time is a tie-breaker only.

Only 12 obstacles may be performed. The 12th must be the weave poles, in either direction. No obstacle may be repeated, whether performed correctly or faulted.


If the dog faults an obstacle, he will not earn the points for that obstacle; and it will not be counted as one of the dog’s 12 required obstacles. A repeated obstacle will be considered a faulted obstacle.

A special 10 point fault is assessed for:

  • For each obstacle more or less than 12 total obstacles;
  • The weave poles not being the 12th obstacle.

A dog that takes an extra obstacle on the way to the table to stop time after the weave poles will be faulted for the extra obstacle(s).


Twelve-Tone Row is scored points minus faults then time. Faults are deducted from the points earned by the dog. No standard course time is used.


G1 = 102

G2 = 126

G3 = 150

Questions comments  impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: BudHouston@hughes.net.
And Check out my new publication the Idea BookAgility Training for a Small Universe available at


%d bloggers like this: