USDAA Class Descriptions
Dog agility classes are generally referred to in two groups – “Standard” and “Nonstandard”. These class groupings are described more fully below. For more information on USDAA rules, regulations, and classes visit the official USDAA website.
Standard Class or “Standard Agility”
Standard Agility is the foundation class in the sport of dog agility. All obstacles are utilized, including three contact obstacles – A-frame, Dog Walk and See-Saw – two types of tunnels – a pipe or open tunnel and a collapsed tunnel or “chute” – weave poles, table, tire jump and a variety of other hurdles and jumps, all of which are set in a sequence designed by the judge. The class is generally scored pursuant to the “Standard Scoring Method”, which charges time penalties for exceeding the “Standard Course Time” established by the judge. Course performance penalties are added to any time penalties to determine the final score. The competitor with the fewest number of faults is the winner. When a tie exists, time is usually the deciding factor. The class may sometimes be scored on a “Time-plus-Faults” basis if circumstances surrounding the class are appropriate. See Scoring Methods for definitions. See Chapters 3 through 5 of USDAA Rules & Regulations for more details.
Nonstandard classes are all other classes, including those classes that represent variations from the “Standard” class. Examples of more common nonstandard classes and that are held for USDAA title certificates are described below. A more detailed description of the class setting forth requirements for title can be found in Chapter 6 of USDAA official rules and regulations booklet.
Gamblers is a point-basis class wherein handlers develop their own strategy for running a course in order to accumulate as many points as possible during the time allotted by the judge. Typically, in planning their run, any obstacle can be performed twice for points and the handler may choose what obstacles they wish to perform and in what order. The judge may impose restrictions on the sequences permissible (e.g., two different contact obstacles may be performed in sequence without first taking a non-contact obstacle) and may specify special challenges to earn bonus points (e.g., a short obstacle sequence where the handler is limited as to their movement or distance from the dog). Additionally, a judge may designate an additional time period during which a special challenge or “joker” (a.k.a., gamble) may be performed for bonus points. At the end of the allotted time, the competitor with the most points is the winner.
Jumpers is a class that excludes all contact obstacles and occasionally weave poles. In other words, it is principally comprised of hurdles and tunnels, and may also include weave poles. It may be scored pursuant to “standard scoring” (i.e., running against a “standard course time” (SCT) that is set by the judge) or on a time-plus-faults basis, depending on how much emphasis is to be placed upon speed. For USDAA titling classes, standard scoring must be utilized. Rates for establishing SCT for different levels of competition are set forth in the rules. The competitor with the fewest penalties is the winner, and when a tie exists, time is frequently the deciding factor. A more detailed description of the class setting forth requirements for title can be found in Chapter 6 of USDAA official rules and regulations booklet.
Relay classes are those that include two or more dog/handler teams competing on a course together. The course may be split, wherein each team member runs a segment, or each team member may run the entire course (when teams are all of the same jump height class). A course may include all of the obstacles other than the table, which may be used as a start, finish or baton exchange point. Since speed is an inherent element in any type of relay competition, the class is generally scored on a time-plus-faults basis, though standard scoring could be used if less emphasis on speed was intended. For USDAA titling purposes, teams may be classified as “mini-” or “open”, meaning that the dogs jumping 12″ and 16″ may be paired together and dogs jumping 22″ and 26″ may be paired together. A “Qualifying Course Time” is established by the judge under which teams must score after faults are added to their time; hence, a round with faults may qualify, provided their performance time is fast enough to allow for the addition of penalties. A more detailed description of the class setting forth requirements for title can be found in Chapter 6 of USDAA official rules and regulations booklet.
Named after the billiards game popular in Great Britain, snooker is a point-basis class wherein a handler develops their strategy for accumulating as many points as possible during the allotted time by performing the obstacles in “Snooker” sequence, which is defined by color. The obstacles are labeled as to color (and number). A “Red” obstacle is almost always a displaceable hurdle (required for USDAA titling classes) and a “Color” obstacle refers to an obstacle designated as a color other than red (i.e., yellow, green, brown, blue, pink or black, the only other permissible colors). Colors (i.e., points) are assigned by the judge to the obstacles based upon their relative difficulty, as determined by their nature or by their placement on the course. Point/color associations are shown in the following table:
Color Point Value
The snooker class consists of an opening sequence immediately followed by a closing sequence, both of which must be performed in the overall performance time allotted by the judge.
The opening sequence is “Red-Color-Red-Color-Red-Color, and so on until all “Red” obstacles and their following “Color” obstacle have been performed; however, if a “Red” is faulted while performing the sequence, the “Color” opportunity immediately following that “Red” is lost. It is frequently said that you must perform a “Red” successfully to earn the right to perform a “Color” for additional points. No points are earned for faulted obstacles.
Once all “Reds” have been performed (including the “Color” of handler’s choice following each “Red” that is successfully performed, the “Closing Sequence” begins. The closing sequence is “Yellow-Green-Brown-Blue-Pink-Black (i.e., the “Colors other than Red” in increasing point value as defined).
The round is over when the course time allotment expires, when a fault occurs in the closing sequence, an improper sequence of obstacles is performed, or the course has been completed. A competitor’s score is the number of points earned during their round.
The maximum score possible in the opening sequence is determined by the number of “Reds” defined in the course plan by the judge. If three “Reds” are defined, then the maximum number of points is 24; if four “Reds are defined, then the maximum is 32 points; and so forth. The maximum can be achieved by performing each “Red” successfully (1 point apiece) and then following each “Red” with the “Black” obstacle, which is worth 7 points each time it is performed successfully. So the maximum points possible in the opening sequence is 8 points times the number of “Reds”. The maximum point value of the closing sequence is always 27 points, which is the sum of the Yellow, Green, Brown, Blue, Pink and Black obstacles (2+3+4+5+6+7=27). Therefore, the maximum possible score in snooker is defined by the sum of possible points in the opening and closing sequences. For a course with three “Reds”, the highest score possible is 51 points; with four “Reds” it is 59 points; with five “Reds” it is 67 points. Typically, a course will only have three or four “Reds”. The number is determined by the judge’s course plan. A qualifying score for USDAA title is a minimum of 37 points. Qualifying placements must also be earned for title certification purposes.
A more detailed description of the class setting forth requirements for title can be found in Chapter 6 of USDAA official rules and regulations booklet.
A variety of other classes, including variations on the above classes are occasionally offered on a competitive basis. These might include Time Gamble, Boxed Pairs, Strategic Pairs, Choose Your Own Course, Power & Speed, and more! Detailed descriptions of these classes when offered at an event shall be provided in the Agility Test Schedule (the official listing of classes and entry form, along with detailed provisions and conditions for entry) for the event.