Game for the Week ~ What’s My Line?

Named after the old television game of the 50s and 60s, “What’s My Line?” presents the obstacle course in the form of a puzzle. The game provides all handlers the opportunity to come up with a strategy for running the most efficient course possible. In the U.K., this game is known as Take Your Own Line.


The handlers objective is to direct his dog to perform all of the obstacles on the course without repeating any. Time starts of the Start line and ends on either of the tables on the field.

What’s My Line is scored time plus faults. Faults include:

  • 5 faults: dropped bar, missed (down) contact, missing a weave pole.
  • 10 faults for repeating an obstacle (4-paw commitment), or failing to perform an obstacle.

The numbers on the course are placed for the benefit of the judge. The numbers do not indicate order or direction. The judge will use one of two methods for keeping track of the handler’s strategy and the dog’s performance:

  • Sort-the-bodies method: The judge calls out the numbers. The score-keeper will determine if the dog has repeated or omitted obstacles.
  • Mind like a steel trap method: The judge will keep track of the dog’s performance by visualization of the flow, and will report faults to the scribe at the end of the dog’s run.


On the Sunday mini-clinic yesterday I was proud and pleased to see the distance skills of my students. Because of the distance curriculum (reflected in the pages of the Jokers Notebook) I’ve managed to inflict on my students a nearly relentless program of independent obstacle performance and work at a distance. It’s proof to the pudding of the essential truth of dog training. A good training protocol isn’t something you “try on the weekend”… it’s something that is a part of your life and your relationship with the dog.

And now, after three-months of routine distance exercise we’re seeing fruition of the plan. Dogs that might have been called Velcro at the beginning of the winter are now happily working at impressive distances from their handlers. Of course I must make the observation that Velcro is a two-part fabric and it takes both parts to get a good stick.

The reason for the game this week is to build in my students an analytical keenness for the “dog’s choice” game; that is, a set of obstacles that may be performed in the order and direction of the handler’s choosing (or the dog’s, depending on who is in charge of the team.) This is a useful skill in games like Gamblers. It’s an up-hill battle to be sure. The idea of doing your own thinking… not having numbers to follow will make one’s brain explode. And I’m not too sure that’s accommodated by my insurance.

Bud’s Google-proof Trivia Contest

What is the winning strategy for this game? We will presume an effective execution of the plan.

The best answer, posted as a reply to this blog post, wins a free copy of the March Jokers Notebook.


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: Check out my latest publication the Jokers Notebook ~ Dog Agility Distance Training Plan – March 2010 available on the Country Dream Web Store: . Readers of my web log get a discount: Enter “special03” in the box for the discount code. And that will take $5.00 off the price of the order.


32 Responses to “Game for the Week ~ What’s My Line?”

  1. Adrienne Says:

    Yay! More games! This is awesome. I have a Teacup trial coming up and these puzzles really help me to think. But I *really* like seeing the other answers. I learned a lot from the last one.

    I can see at least three different way to get through this. The trick sems to be not to be caught at the teeter at the end.

    So my answer is 12-T-13-11-6-2-5-10-14-8-4-9-15-7-3-1

    I like this because one isn’t running past obstacles without taking them, which would give a nice flow in some cases, but not efficient. The only place that could be better is doing a flip to the tunel from the A-Frame. But since I can’t see how to use that approach, I used the 4 jump to square up the A-Frame approach and give momentum.

    I can’t wait to see what other people come up with!

    • Adrienne Says:

      First skill, learn to read the map! I took the start line to be the finish line. But now that Krista points out the tables finish the course I’m going to look again…

    • Adrienne Says:

      Ok, with the table as the finish and not an obstacle that has to be taken I would do this: 2-6-12-13-11-5-10-14-8-4-9-15-7-3-1-T

      And I will now look at what Krista chose…

  2. Krista Hill Says:

    I assumed, the way the finish line is indicated, that either table is to be the final obastacle…

    Having said that, I would run 2, 6, 12, 13, 11, 5, 10, 14, 8, 3, 7, 15, 9, 4, 1, T

    I am truly enjoying these strategy games! It’s sharpening my analysis skills for my older boys and reminding me of some fo the skills I need to incorporate into the pup’s training plan. Thanks!!

  3. Laurie Says:

    This is fun! I have worked on it for quite some time. I came up with several options, but mine would be:
    2, 4, 8, 14, 10, 6, 12, 13, 11, 5, 9, 15, 7, 3, 1, T

  4. Erica Says:


  5. Jeff Says:

    How about 2-6-12-14-15-7-3-4-8-9-10-13-11-5-1-T ?

    The path from 12 to 14 is a lot of distance with no accumulation of obstacles. To make that more valuable travel time, the sequence could be


    This does require the turn out of the weaves (10) to be tighter. The net effect might be a shorter course than the first option.


  6. Ronni Says:


  7. Ronni Says:


    OK, then how about: 2,5,11,13,14,9,8,4,1,3,7,15,10,6,12,T?

  8. Wayne Says:


    • budhouston Says:

      Your stratregy comes in about 145 yards… with a couple hard wrapping turns. As in Ronni’s course, that wrap out of the pipe tunnel down to jump #4 is a space hog.

  9. Adrienne Says:

    How about 2-6-12-14-9-8-15-7-3-4-10-13-11-5-1-T

    This has *gotta* be it. The path seems to “click with the cours layout. Only oe yucky turn after the weaves.

    I have no idea the course distance tho. I’m going to have to buy CRCD just to work these quizzes!

    • budhouston Says:

      I have this course at 139 yards. It has very nice flow… a single technical turn; a little bit of dodging as you run past stuff tho. Because of the flow it might beat a strategy with a lesser course distance.

  10. Krista Hill Says:

    OK…try these…

    5,11,15,7,3,2,6,12,13,14,10,9,8,4,1,T – this is flowing but long & flip from frame to tunnel


    2,1,3,4,5,11,6,12,14,10,9,15,7,8,13,T – much shorter but one wrap at 11

    • budhouston Says:

      On the first guess, I have you at 148 yards; one hard aback turn, and a technical turn; and a strategy that leaves you needing to dodge a lot of stuff as you work.

      We’ll call the second try 144 yards, with a couple hard aback turns and at least one “dodge-the-bullet” transition.

  11. Ronni Says:


    • budhouston Says:

      I have your course distance at 128 yards (shortest so far); one hard wrapping turn and a couple of technical turns. This is going to be hard to beat.

    • Adrienne Says:

      If you switch 8 and 9 you wouldn’t be sending your dog up the A-frame with no momentum. 🙂

      Congrats on winning!

      • Ronni Says:

        True–especially for a non-rubberized A-frame–and it wouldn’t affect the yardage too much. I’m hoping Bud’s got rubber on his equipment now.

  12. Krista Hill Says:

    Here’s one more…


    12 to 13 is a bit tricky – would push my boy out and take the jump towards 11

  13. budhouston Says:

    I’m going to officially call this contest closed. These are a lot of work for me, because I have to trace through the dog’s path and measure it in the Clean Run Course Designer. But they are the most interesting of the questions I pose, to be sure.

    Ronni Russell wins with the briefest path with the least onerous transitions. Very nice job.


  14. Ronni Says:

    This was a lot of fun. Thanks for scoring and allowing multiple guesses!

  15. Krista Says:

    Ditto to Ronni’s last comment… & nice path Ronni :0)

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