More Petit Prix Notes

Only a handful of us actually understood how the back-ground scoring worked for the Petit Prix. I’ll try to explain it… but be warned that it’ll make your head hurt.

We’ve noted in the past that the entry to the Petit Prix is disproportionately in the 8” and 12” jump heights. So what happens at 4” and 16” is that some weaker players make it into the final round while some very nice dogs at 8 and 12 have to sit it out. So what we determined to do is give jump heights a share of semi-final round and Final Round participation based on their percentage of entry. This would mean, for example, that there are 3 guaranteed slots for 16” dogs in the final round, rather than 10.

However, before we give away the other 7 slots to another jump height, we added a criteria that the dog in another jump height taking away that Finals slot would actually have to beat the 16” dog.

We also imposed a “leveling” handicap for jump heights so that as we compared results the smaller dogs were given some advantage in time and scoring. 8” dogs had a 10% advantage over 12” dogs; and 4” dogs had a 20% advantage. These are well tested numbers that reflect the rates of travel of dogs of different stature.

Anyhow, I figure that very few people really understand how the background scoring worked. At least a couple competitors had to be called back to Festival hall to play in the final round because they pretty much figured that they had been cut because of foreground scoring numbers. I think in future years competitors will be less likely to leave before the Finals berths are announced.

One fellow even gave me a good chewing out because he figured out background scoring couldn’t possibly be fair. I’m sure he was accounting for his own dog. Now I’m wondering if he was chagrined to actually have made the final round with his young Sheltie.

Dare to Double

One of the favorite games of the TDAA is Dare to Double a game invented by Darlene Woz. A new high score was set by Mark Wittig’s Corgi girl Ebby. He reported to me a score of 8,500 or so. That is unconfirmed as of this writing; though it has me thinking that it’s little wonder that Ebby had her pads burned off.

I’ve been teaching winning strategies for Dare to Double for a couple of months now; though I did note that some pretty impressive scores were put up at the Petit Prix. TDAA players have become a culture of gamers. There’s not many games that aren’t quickly turned over in the mental calculators and turned into impressive performance.

One of my favorite strategies of the game is to accept the final “Fault” (losing half the dog’s points)… and remaining instead at the A-frame to continue doubling until the second whistle blows. I’m not too sure at all if Mark went this route with Ebby.



Dare to Double is a dogs choice game, it is scored points then time. For every obstacle completed successfully the team earns points appropriate for that obstacle. The team will make their own course and complete the obstacles in the order they choose. Time allowed to accumulate points is a follows: 12 & 16” dogs 50 seconds, 8” dogs 55 seconds, 4” dogs 60 seconds.

The game starts at the start line and ends at the table. In order to keep all points earned they must get to the table before time expires. If they fail to get to the table before time expires they lose half their points. The team with the most points wins. In case of a tie, time will be the tie breaker.

The value of obstacles is:

Jumps=1 point

Tunnels, and tire=3 points

Teeter, and weave poles=5 points

Dog walk=7 points

Obstacles may be taken back to back if done in a safe manner. They may be taken twice for points. Knocked bars will not be reset.

The A-Frame is the double obstacle. During the run the handler may direct the dog over the doubling obstacle to double all points. A successful performance of the doubling obstacle doubles all points earned to that point. If the dog faults the A-Frame the team loses half its points to that point.

The A-Frame may be taken as many times, or as often as the handler chooses. The A‑Frame may not be taken back-to-back. There must be at least one point scored after the A-Frame is attempted, no matter if faulted or not.

A warning whistle will sound 15 seconds before time runs out. A second whistle will blow at the end of allotted time and not more points will be awarded.

The table is live after the 15 second warning whistle. After the first whistle if the dog makes contact with the table, time and scoring cease.

Scoring and Qualification

Dare to Double is scored Points, then Time. 160 points are required to qualify:


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: And Check out my latest publication the Just For Fun Agility Notebook #30 available at

9 Responses to “More Petit Prix Notes”

  1. Mark Says:

    Dear Bud;
    Typically in Dare to Double I follow your advice and ignore the first buzzer. Upon walking this course I identified nine easy doubles but very little after that. My goal was to get the easy nine then head for the table before the final buzzer. This works out the same as 10 doubles with a 50% point reduction.

    Note: A Three Pines slow motion replay showed Ebby slip on the carpet on one set of weaves causing her to pop one pole and leave 5 points on the course before the first doubler. She was one slip away from 11,000.
    Mark & Ebby

    • budhouston Says:

      That’s very cool Mark. I can’t tell you how fun it was watching you compete over the weekend. You and Ebby have come together very nicely as a team. And throughout the tournament you did what you had to do.

  2. Diane Says:

    I think I understood the background scoring going into the event, and I agree that it was a good thing to have in place for the reasons you’ve stated, especially so regarding the (relatively) small entry numbers in the 16″ class.

    But it also occurred to me last evening, that if even just a few of the 12″ dogs that were running at 12″ but eligible for Veteran status; had they instead opted to be scored with the 16″ dogs, well, it would have likely added an interesting spin to the competition.

    Perhaps we will see this as an element in PP 2010… (or am I interpreting the rules incorrectly?)

    Diane & Kipr

    • budhouston Says:

      Hi Diane,

      Dogs actually compete against their measured height. So if we did it right, a dog might jump at 12″ but isn’t actually competing against other dogs in that jump height.

  3. Diane Says:

    What I was thinking (and maybe that’s what you just addressed?):
    A 12″ dog enters at 16″ but takes the Veteran exemption to jump 12″. But you’re saying, the 12″ dog is scored with the 12″ dogs regardless of whether they entered 16″ or 12″.

    So is it allowed to enter higher than measured height? I couldn’t find anything saying “no”, but given your explanation, doing so would complicate scoring, so maybe it would be an unwelcome strategy.


    • budhouston Says:

      This is an interesting scenario. And I think that I misunderstood it. Did that really happen… [A 12″ dog enters at 16″ but takes the Veteran exemption to jump 12″. ]?

      I don’t want to give a knee-jerk response to the scenario. We do allow dogs to enter at a higher jump height if they wish. I’m wondering if that *should* mean that the dog would relinquish any exemption advantage. Don’t take this as a ruling. It truly hadn’t even occurred to me.

      • Diane Says:

        It didn’t happen that I am aware of, but I do know at least one 12″ dog that was eligible for a Vets exemption but didn’t take it and opted to jump it’s scored height of 12″. I suspect that dog’s scores would have been very competitive in 16″, possibly even winning. It just got me to thinking.

        It has occurred to me since my first comment that even a dog jumping 8″ could potentially ask to be scored with 16″ using both a body exemption and a Vet exemption. Not sure how I’d feel about that… it’d be nice to have more dogs scoring at 16″, but the challanges are quite different for the “big” dogs on most courses.


  4. Barb Says:

    I would think that a 12″ dog would have to jump 8″ with its veterans exemption regardless if the handler has chosen in the past to jump higher than the dog’s measured jump height. There’s a table in the rules that lists all of this out…see 3.4.6 “Jump Height Table”

    Isn’t our scored height the same as the measured height on our height card? We can’t ask to be scored at a heigher height, correct?

    I decided to run my 9.5 year old Shih Tzu as a 4″ veteran at the PP – just to see how he’d do. He has no trouble running 8″ and had fun running 4″. I’m not sure I’ll keep entering him as a veteran (he also does AKC) – 4″ seems like such a low jump height for him (he’s 10.5 inches tall). He actually used to jump 12″ in TDAA (and AKC) before the jump height cutoff change.

    It took me a while, but I think I finally understand the concept of the background scoring system. (Well, just enough to know not to ever again leave without confirming if my dog is still “in” the competition or not!)

    Louie Annie and Teddy

    • Diane Says:

      Hi Barb,

      That was indeed helpful and I found the clarification that would cover this just above that table in 3.4.5: “Any dog jumping with a jump height exemption… competes against the field of dogs in the height class he measures into…”

      So Bud, it seems your knee jerk reaction was correct and probably based in that subconscious problem solving part of the brain that you’ve mentioned. 🙂

      Kipr & Kami

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