Avoiding the Creep of CPE Rules into TDAA Games Play

Games from any venue are eligible for games titling in the TDAA. A popular training venue these days is Canine Performance Events. And some of the CPE games have naturally made their way into the TDAA. We would very much like to improve upon the CPE model and remedy certain of their habits that weren’t overly thoughtful.

The observations that follow come pretty much straight out of my conversations with TDAA judges as I review their courses and games.


Your briefing says: “The competitor must say the color and their level before they run or they will receive a score of elimination.”   I’m sorry. This is way too mean spirited for me. It sounds like the kind of thing a badly trained CPE judge would dream up. You know that some people are going to forget to make the announcement… and so they are getting eliminated not for performance on the field, but for being nervous or forgetful. You however, should demonstrate thoughtful professionalism. If it’s a matter of you not having the correct judging position; feel free to blow your whistle, demand they make the announcement, and then allow them to restart. OTOH… the whole thing can be avoided if you instruct your timekeeper to withhold giving a GO until they announce their intended color.


It’s a CPE convention to give the dog a score of Elimination if he doesn’t cross the finish line. Indeed, what some judges do is put a table out there on the field somewhere to stop time… and will require the handler to direct the dog to the table to stop time (else, score the dog for elimination).

Well, this is pretty silly stuff. The TDAA should recognize the international standard for playing Snooker. Once points are earned, they cannot be taken away.

Now what the thoughtful judge will do is make it pretty much impossible for the dog to leave the ring without crossing a finish line.


Here’s an example of my own course design. If you really think about it the properly designed snooker course should allow the handler to get off the field with his dog in a smooth and efficient manner. This helps with ring administration. I’ll tell the exhibitors during briefing that they need to cross the “Finish Line” when they hear a whistle or have finished the sequence through obstacle number seven. And then I will advise the time-keeper that although I briefed them to cross one line… some of them will be forgetful. And so the timekeeper should be alert to them crossing the other line. No harm no foul.


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 www.dogagility.org/store.


6 Responses to “Avoiding the Creep of CPE Rules into TDAA Games Play”

  1. Mary Anne G. Says:

    FYI, as of January 1, 2009, you no longer have to declare your choice of “color” in CPE.

  2. Carole Says:

    Hi Bud-

    The stupidest CPE rules to not let creep into TDAA would be those regarding the table:

    “The following items are considered training in the ring: … Putting the dog back on the table in the point game.” “[There is no training in the ring at a CPE agility trial. First offense will result in an excusal from the run.]”

    “The following items are not considered training in the ring: … “Asking the dog once for a sit or down on the table in the point game (asking more than once will be a delay of finish, 5 faults/points)”

    My baby dog bounced off the table after a Full House run, I told her to come back and sit, and I was immediately excused from the run. In any other venue, a table bounce is bad, but in CPE you are not allowed to even get your dog to do the obstacle properly. (The rules state that the obstacle performance is over once one foot hits the table, and anything else is just training since the dog has already completed the obstacle. Isn’t all agility training to a large degree?) Other competitors were worried about inadvertently saying the “down” or “sit” command more than once and losing points.

    In my opinion, these types of pedantic rules are no way to run a friendly venue. Keep TDAA friendly (even if it is definitely not Gordon Setter-friendly.) 🙂

    • budhouston Says:

      I have to agree with CPE that requiring an obedience performance on a “one-paw-stops-time” table is training in the ring. But you know, if you slice this pie a bit more there are a lot of handling habits that are actually training in the ring. Consider the handler that requires his dog to tarry an extra second in the 2o2o position on a contact. He’s making a training point with his dog!

      Those are the kind of rules you’d expect from AKC who takes itself more seriously than it deserves. But CPE? Hell… who takes CPE seriously?


  3. Mary Anne G. Says:

    I could see training table performance becoming a HUGE time-waster if they allowed it! How long, on average, do handlers waste when they struggle with a dog that won’t lie down on the table? Multiply that by the number of runs where handlers would now take advantage of the chance to train table performance (one that’s not required by CPE) and it’s gonna add up.

    I don’t see this as CPE being “retentive” so much as “practical” there.

  4. agiledogs Says:

    Sorry, Bud, in upper levels CPE is taken very seriously. Some of the standard and Jackpot courses are incredibly difficult! Sure, at levels 1 and 2 it’s like pre-novice and novice, respectively. But it gets progressively harder going on up. No faults of any type allowed in level C is pretty hard.

    As for the snooker rule that dogs must get on the table; once you learn that instead of crossing a finish line to get a time you must get on a table to get a time, it’s no big deal. You can’t get a Q if you don’t have a time in CPE. Also, you can only do 3 reds; the 4th is only there if a red is knocked, and you cannot Q if your dogs knocks more than one red jump.

    There have been times I’ve wanted to call my dog back to get on the table in snooker and jackpot, but at that point my run was over, and the next dog is coming in the ring and taking leash off. Calling my dog back would not only earn me an E, it would also create a potential hazard in the ring.


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