Pole Jacks

This game is an invention of Brenna Fender. It is intended as a game of strategy, comparable to Snooker. Pole Jacks creates an atmosphere for intensive work on the weave poles. The game requires consistent performance and pits the dog against the poles with a variety of entries and velocity of approach. Use this game in training to sharpen everyone’s weave pole work. Pole Jacks has been called Weave Pole Snooker.

Pole Jacks is played like the children’s game of jacks. The performance of a short set of weave poles is the bounce of the ball. All other obstacles on the course are jacks and have specific point values.

After the “bounce” (doing the weave poles), the team must “pick up” the appropriate number of jacks by scoring an equivalent number of points. The handler and dog team will bounce “onesies,” bounce “twosies,” bounce “threesies,” and so forth until either they reach bounce and “sevensies” or time expires.

The dog’s time begins when he fist makes a “legal” entry into the weave poles, entering between pole #1 and pole #2 from right to left. The dog’s time ends when he gets on the table or crosses the finish line. The SCT shall be 60 seconds for big dogs and 55 seconds for small dogs. The end-of-time whistle ends scoring only; the clock continues to run until the dog crosses the finish line or goes to the table. After the time whistle, there will be no fault and no points for the dog taking additional obstacles on the way to the table or finish line to stop time.

The dog must pick up points equaling the number for which the team is shooting after the bounce. For instance, if the team is shooting for 6, they could do a jump and the teeter or they could do a tunnel and the tire.

No obstacle may be taken back-to-back on the same pick up. However, an obstacle may be repeated in the same pick-up.

Two sets of weave poles are available on this course. Either can be used to start time and either can be used for a “bounce.”


Pole Jacks is scored points then time. The dog’s score will be the number of his last complete pick-up. The winner is the dog with the highest points and with least time in the case of a tie. The maximum points that can be earned are 7.

The following point values are assigned to obstacles:

  • Jumps, 1 point
  • Tunnels and tire, 3 points
  • Teeter and A-frame, 5 points
  • Dogwalk, 7 points

If time expires while the dog is engaged in a pick-up, the points earned are appended to the dog’s score as a decimal value. For example, if the dog has picked up 5, and has done two jumps when the time whistle blows, then his final score will be 5.2.

If a dog faults during a pick-up, the dog must again bounce (perform the poles) and retry that same number. Faults include the following:

  • Any of the usual performance faults (missed contact, knocked pole and so on)
  • Picking up a number greater than the number for which the team is shooting
  • Crossing the line of weave poles with incomplete points in the pick up
  • Doing an obstacle back-to-back


The following discussion is intended mostly for the TDAA games designer (judge). This is a carefully considered variation of Pole Jacks. It is not scrupulously or rigorously faithful to the rules documented for the game in the Clean Run Book of Agility Games, in a couple small regards.

The rules as originally written specify that a single obstacle cannot be repeated during a pick-up. I’ve changed the rule for this game (this time) to allow an obstacle to be repeated; but disallow back-to-back performances.

Also, I’ve changed the scoring to allow the dog to earn points for incomplete pick-up when time expires. This is a good change. What we’ve done in the past is to only allow the full-digit score for the pick-up. As a consequence a dog who might squeak by a score of 6… who happens to be near the table when the whistle blows, will place higher than a dog that scores 6 on the pick-up, and has earned another 5 or 6 towards the 7 pick-up but is farther away from the table when the whistle blows.

TDAA judges are allowed to create new variations of games that we play. What I look for in a variation is that it adds interest. We shouldn’t be changing the rules just because we’re being too lazy to figure out what the rules are supposed to be.

Bud’s Google-proof Trivia Contest

What was Stuart Mah’s occupation/job before his life went to the (agility) dogs?

The first correct answer, posted as a reply to this blog post, wins a free copy of the April Jokers Notebook.


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: BudHouston@hughes.net. Check out my latest publication the Jokers Notebook ~ Dog Agility Distance Training Plan – April 2010 available on the Country Dream Web Store: http://countrydream.wordpress.com/web-store/ . Readers of my web log get a discount: Enter “special04” in the box for the discount code. And that will take $5.00 off the price of the order.

2 Responses to “Pole Jacks”

  1. Erica Says:

    He was (is, albeit non-practicing) an oral surgeon.

  2. Betty Says:

    Why is the standard course time 60 seconds for the large dogs and only 55 seconds (less time) for the small dogs?

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