I’ve worked on two games today. The second one actually is the set of the floor for our classes this week here at Country Dream. After I designed it I decided that it would make a pretty good Time Warp course. And so that’s the second game that I’ve worked over, down below.

To tell you the truth my real objective was to get the broad jump, and a couple spread hurdles (double and triple) out on the floor. I have a USDAA trial in a couple weeks with Kory and Hazard. And since I have them both entered in the Dog Agility Steeplechase I thought it prudent to give them a good workout especially on the broad jump. Aside from the numbered course I’ve also designed a variety of sequences that put our dogs on these extending jumps.

The fun thing about this USDAA trial (at BRAG in Columbus, OH), by the way, is that it’s a Starters/Advanced only trial. And they’re putting on the Steeplechase. You know what that means right? This is one of the USDAA’s most important tournament events… and the smart alecks will be staying away in droves. So I can bring in my young Starters/Advanced dogs (Kory/Hazard) and have a run at the Steeplechase with a diminishment in competition. I kinda like the sound of that!!


Like the great American pastime, Baseball is a delightful just-for-the-fun-of-it game for a summer afternoon in a park with a band of agility enthusiasts and their dogs. This game is also a useful training exercise for modest distance work. Baseball is the invention of Terry Culley of Bosque, NM.


The dog is required to perform the obstacles in sequence at the handler’s direction and in the order designated by the judge.

Bonuses are awarded for each base the dog gets to while the handler remains on the pitcher’s mound. A home run may (25 bonus seconds) be scored if the handler leaves the dog in a stay at the start line, stands inside the area designated as the pitcher’s mound (roughly the center of the course), and remains on the pitcher’s mound throughout the dog’s performance. If the handler leaves the pitcher’s mound before the dog completes the course, the dog will be faulted, and no bonus subsequent bonuses will be earned.

The game can be played in two ways, for individual scores, or the field can be divided into an equal number of dogs and handlers on each side for a cumulative score.


Baseball is scored time plus faults minus bonus. The team with the lowest score wins.

The schedule of faults shall be:

•         5 faults, dropped bars

•         5 faults, off-course

•         5 faults, stepping off the pitcher’s mound

•         20 faults, failure to perform

•         Refusals are not faulted

The schedule of bonuses shall be:

•         5 seconds 1st base

•         5 seconds 2nd base (overall 2nd base would be worth 10 seconds)

•         5 seconds 3rd base (overall 3rd base would be worth 15 seconds)

•         10 seconds home run (overall the home run would be worth 25 seconds)

Course Design

This is a relatively simple Baseball course, demonstrating the basic elements of course design.

The course is diamond-shaped and flows around the pitcher’s mound. Notice that the path from the start and finish line (home plate) to the pitcher’s mound is a re-used sequence. It points toward the pitcher’s mound at the beginning of the course and straight away from the pitcher’s mound at the end of the course.

Using weave poles as the bases is a bit more advanced. But it’s certainly not out of the question.

There is an argument that can be made here for the course designer to use a bit of imagination. For example, consider using contact obstacles in the lines between the bases; or, consider using no obstacles at all between the bases (that would certainly make the size/real estate of the baseball diamond less demanding.)

Qualifying and Titles

Baseball is eligible as a qualifying game for TDAA and TOP SECRET Top Dog. When using this game as a qualifier, a baseline for the standard course time should be established by the judge that reflects the yards per seconds in the Standard classes for the respective level of the dog.

Qualifying criteria should be based upon rates of travel from the standard classes with some expectation of success appropriate to the level of play. When the handler steps outside the box, earning a 5-point penalty, the dog’s ability to earn a qualifying score is significantly affected, but not really eliminated.

To qualify the dog’s score (Time-Plus-Faults-Less-Bonus) should be equal to or less than the QCT calculated in this manner:

•         Games I – Using the standard rate of travel less 5 seconds

•         Games II – Using the standard rate of travel less 10 seconds

•         Games III – Using the standard rate of travel less 15 seconds


  • The Egyed variation – In this variation, invented by Cynthia Egyed, the table serves as the pitcher’s mound. Handlers must stand on the table. This is a fun club outing variation. If a dog takes the table, with the handler the handler will be required to run the course without his dog.
  • The Tables variation – In this variation all of the bases are tables. The dog will earn a super bonus for demonstrating either a sit, down, or stand on each table (or, all of the above!) The qualifying criteria should be tweaked with some expectation of success earning a super bonus.

Time Warp

Time Warp is the invention of Ilze Rukis. She writes, “Thirty seconds are taken off the final time if weaves are successfully completed with the handler behind the line. Therefore, there is a possibility for negative course times, hence my name for the game. My Border Collie Zuzu has proven this time warp theory. She did this game in minus 4 seconds!!”


The objective of Time Warp is to run all of the obstacles in a numbered sequence as fast as possible without faults and to turn back the clock by performing one or more Time Warm distance challenges.

The performance of the table will be judge’s choice. Traditionally the dog will be required to demonstrate both a sit and a down, in either order. The handler simply continues when the dog has done these two performances.

Thirty seconds are taken off the final time for each Time Warp distance challenge successfully completed with the handler behind the line. Therefore, there is a possibility for negative course times, hence the name of the game.


Scoring is Time Plus Faults Less Bonus. Performance faults are identical to those in the standard classes with this exception: traditionally the wrong course fault is waived during the attempt of the Time Warp Bonus.

A 30-second reduction in the dog’s time is awarded if the dog performs the Time Warp distance challenge while the handler remains on the opposite side of the containment line.

Note: Avoid any convention that calls for a 5-point fault for stepping over a containment line. The dog is already penalized for failing the Time Warp distance challenge. There’s no good reason to punish him a second time.


The handler should be very aware of the capacities and limitation of the competition. The game might be won by a dog that does not attempt the distance challenge but it is unlikely unless there is no dog in the field of competitors that will do the distance challenge without the attendance of the handler alongside. Moreover, the handler should trust the dog’s understanding the performance of the work at a distance, even if this performance has not been intentionally tested in the dog’s training program.

The handler should be aware that a dog will nicely work in a parallel path to the handler’s path. The handler should seek a path of movement complimentary to the dog. The biggest mistake a handler can make in lateral distance work is to come to a stop and rely on the flapping of arms and jaw to direct the dog.

As refusals are not faulted, the handler should not get mental if the dog should happen to refuse an obstacle. It is possible to recover from such an error and still place highly in this game.

If the handler knows that his dog will not perform the Time Warp obstacles from a distance, it makes more sense for the handler to draw step over the line, run with the dog, and never mind making the attempt for the time warp bonus.

Course Design

This is a Time Warp course for Advanced competitors. This course was designed by Bud Houston for agility league at Dogwood Training Center in Ostrander, Ohio.

In a course like this the judge might specify special performance rules for the Time Warp Distance challenge. When this game was originally played the performance rules were: “If the dog comes out of the poles, it is permitted for the handler to switch performance to the teeter. If the dog puts a single paw on the teeter, the handler must finish the course via the teeter. This is to keep handlers from pulling their dogs off the contact obstacle. If the teeter is chosen, no time bonus is granted and there is no handler restriction. “

Multiple Time Warp Opportunities

The Time Warp course is based upon a numbered course; and so the course might also be designed as a Jumpers course. The course designer should consider giving the exhibitor multiple opportunities, as in this example, to warp back the clock so that if one failed the other would offer redemption.

The Time Warp obstacle does not have to be the weave poles. However, the distance challenge posed should allow the agility team to demonstrate substantial technical merit.

In the traditional Time Warp course the designer will seek a closing challenge offering a performance of the weave poles to the dog at a lateral distance from the handler.

Qualifying and Titles

Time Warp is an eligible titling game for qualifying in the TDAA and in TOP SECRET Top Dog. In both, qualifying criteria for this game is left fairly to the judge’s discretion.

Time Warp is scored Time Plus Faults Less Bonus. The simple qualifying criteria would be to set an aggressive SCT based on the rates of travel for each jump height from the standard classes. This raises the sticky issue that a dog might earn a qualifying score without any Time Warp bonus, and indeed, without even attempting the Time Warp bonus.


  • The Clean Round variation – In this variation, the dog will earn an additional Time Warp bonus (something modest, like 10 points) for completing the numbered sequence without a performance fault (dropped bar, missed contact, etc.)
  • The Multiple Challenges variation – In this variation more than one Time Warp distance challenge will be included in the numbered sequence.

Bud’s Google-proof Trivia Contest

What is the real name of the neighborhood bar that was shown (outside view) in the television series Cheers? Where is it located?


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: BudHouston@hughes.net. Check out my latest publication the Jokers Notebook ~ Dog Agility Distance Training ~ Issue #0 ~ August 2010 available on the Country Dream Web Store: http://countrydream.wordpress.com/web-store/ . Readers of my web log get a discount: Enter “special00” in the box for the discount code. And that will take $5.00 off the price of the order.

One Response to “Busyness”

  1. Betty Says:

    Bull & Finch Pub in Boston, Massachusetts

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