Trial Guide for Novices

Measure-in required? Tallest division - no
Smaller divisions - yes
Tallest division -no
Smaller divisions - yes,
until card is issued
Tallest division -no
Smaller divisions at judge's discretion
Collars allowed in ring? None None None, or a flat buckle with no tags
Training collars allowed outside ring? Yes No Choke chains okay
Leash outside ring, on grounds of trial site Must be under control whether on-leash or off Must be under control whether on-leash or off Mandatory; on-leash except in warm-up area
Food/toys away from ring 10 feet 10 feet N/A
Course familiarization Never Usually not, but optional Usually, but optional
4-paw rule (4 paws on correct contact, then bails, must skip & go on) Yes Yes Yes
Up contacts judged? Teeeter only All Teeter, Dog Walk
Possible positions on table Down Down Down or sit
(Judge's discretion)
Correct missed weaves? Yes (5 faults regardless of number of occurences Yes (no penalty if corrected) No weaves
On/off table 5 faults 5 faults 2 point deduction
Knocked bar 5 faults 5 faults Elimination
Wrong course 10 faults 5 faults 5 faults
(2 okay, 3rd is elimination)
Failure to perform 20 faults 1st missed: 20 faults
2nd missed: elimination
Refusals/run outs Not faulted Not faulted 5 faults
(2 okay, 3rd is elimination)
Blocking dog 5-20 faults, whether or not contact is made Not faulted unless contact is made; then 5 faults to elimination Not faulted unless contact is made; then elimination
Excessive handling/leading 5 faults 5 faults to elimination Elimination or excusal
Obvious/excessive training in the ring 5 faults to elimination 5 faults to elimination Elimination or excusal
Score needed to Q No more than 5 faults Clean run 85 pts out of 100
Must Q to get ribbon? No No Yes
After gaining title, must move up? No, may enter Novice B indefinitely Yes, must enter Advanced level No, may enter Novice B indefinitely
Novice titles NAC (3 regular runs)
NGC (2 gamblers runs)
NJC (2 jumpers runs)
+50 pts: O-NGC, O-NJC
+100 pts: O-NAC
+100 pts: S-NGC, S-NJC
+200 pts: S-NAC
AD (3 standard runs) NA (3 titling runs)
Other levels/titles
Open: OAC
Elite: EAC
Champion: NATCh
Advanced: AAD
Masters: MAD
Champion: ADCh
Open: OA
Excellent: AX
Master: MX
Miscellaneous Mixed breeds okay
Games classes: can title at all levels
Can run several classes per day
Medium jumps
Few tight turns, so faster speeds (hard for slow dogs)
Veteran/Jr. classes
Classes judges same at all levels, so less confusing
Mixed breeds okay
Games classes: can title only at Masters level
Can run several classes per day
Highest jumps
Higher jumps problem for large, small or older dogs
Veteran, Jr. classes
Most competitive/challenging
No mixed or non-AKC breeds
Games not always offered, and not titling yet
Usually only one run per day
Lowest jumps
Longer times
Younger dogs okay (12 mo.)
Lower A-frame, dog walk
Fewer obstacles
All refusals called
Many trials, but fill quickly
Address HCR 2, Box 277
St. Maries, ID 83861
PO Box 850955
Richardson, TX 75085
5580 Centerview Dr. # 200
Raleigh, NC 27606
Phone 209-689-3803 972-231-9700 919-233-9767


WHAT TO BRING TO THE TRIAL: Directions, confirmation letter, judging schedule. (If USDAA, registration card showing dog's height so you don't have to measure in)

For dog: Crate or pen, cart, water, bowl, shade, food/meds, treats, toys, leash, collar, blanket, plastic bags (to clean up after dog).

For you: Chair, hat, sun block, insect repellant, drinks, lunch, cash for raffles and/or lunch, soap, toilet paper.

WHAT NOT TO WEAR IN THE RING: Anything that makes noise (jangling jewelry, coins in pockets, keys), or anything that might be construed as a signal to the dog that you have rewards (fanny pack, etc.)

ARRIVE EARLY: Especially if you offered to help run the trial. Regardless, there is much to do before your first class starts: check in, get arm band and catalog, check catalog to see when your first class starts, in which ring it will be and the running order (small to large or vice versa), set up, potty dog (take your plastic bags), potty self, stretch/relax dog, stretch/relax self. If your dog requires measure-in the first day, arrive no later than the measure-in time listed in the premium list or confirmation letter.

OBSERVE ADVANCED CLASSES: This is of great benefit. Learn from those further along than you. Don't stand too close to ring edges and don't crowd ring entrances or exits. Never try to help competitors from the sidelines. This can get them eliminated. Also, be conscious of your actions around rings. Keep your distance, don't use toys, clickers or food, keep your dog (and children) quiet and calm. These things distract dogs that are competing.

VOLUNTEER TO HELP RUN ADVANCED CLASSES: Besides learning a lot, you'll find clubs are almost always shorthanded. (Keep in mind that many of the more advanced competitors are the ones running the trial, so when they are competing, their jobs may need to be filled.)

WHEN YOUR CLASS IS CALLED: Your dog should already be pottied. (If it eliminates in the ring, you will be eliminated from that class.) Attend the judge's briefing. If your trainer is available, you might want to ask him or her to walk the course with you to offer advice. If there is a course familiarization, you and your dog may join the others to perform the contact obstacles. Again, use the correct collar and leash and remove forbidden items from your person. Do not allow your dog to run loose or perform any other piece of equipment.

OBSERVE OTHERS RUNNING BEFORE YOU IN YOUR CLASS: See where they are having trouble on the course. You may decide to change your strategy. Again, don't stand too close to the ring edges and don't crowd ring entrances and exits. Generally, clubs set up canopies at ring entrances for shade. These are for the handlers and dogs "on deck" and coming up soon after that. Do not crowd these areas.

PRACTICE JUMP: This is set up ringside. (NADAC may also have a short set of weaves.) It is not for training. It is for practice and warm up only. Warm up dog with jumping, weaving, heelwork, obedience and play, but be careful: don't over-do it and don't be harsh with your dog.

WATCH CATALOG AND/OR GATE STEWARD'S LIST: You should be ringside 5-6 dogs before yours. And be aware that dogs ahead of you may not be present, which means you'll go sooner. Be ready. Check in with gate steward and stay where s/he can see you. When the team before you enters, you are "on deck" and should be prepared to enter when they exit. Hand your leash/collar to the "runner". Do not look to the judge to begin; that is the timer's job. Check with the timer that s/he is ready. If you leave the dog at the start line and lead out, turn backwards and watch dog as you move away. If the dog breaks and crosses the start line, your time has started, so get moving. If, after you place your dog to start, there is an unexpected delay, you can, if you choose, take the dog just outside the ring to re-group, then restart. If the timer blows a whistle right after you start, s/he is signaling you to stop and re-start. Do not get flustered. Praise your dog to keep his attitude up and start over. Finally, be aware that in USDAA, while you are not expected to "rush", if you cause an excessive delay at the start line, or in entering or exiting the ring, you could, at the judge's discretion, be faulted or eliminated.

GOOD SPORTMANSHIP, GENTLE HANDLING OF DOG: All venues require them everywhere on the grounds. Failure to use them can get you sent home. Agility is a spectator sport where we must set good examples for the public.

SCOREKEEPERS: They are busy, busy, busy. Please resist the temptation to stop by their table to check your score on your way out of the ring. You can see your score when the scorekeepers post it. If you then have a question about your score, ask them. But for any other questions, try to find someone else, as the scorekeepers have a lot going on at their table.

FINAL SUGGESTIONS: You will find, over time, that your dog works better under some circumstances than he does under others. As a novice, you need to experiment. Does he perform better when you leave him quiet and alone in his crate before running? Or when you keep him with you as you visit, eat or browse the raffles? Or when you play with him beforehand? Or when you do some obedience? Does exercise tire him out or get him primed to run? Should you give him his toys or tease him with them? Does he prefer you to pet him and baby-talk to him before entering the ring, or do you need to get him jazzed up? Does he run better if he knows a toy awaits his exit from the ring? Or cookies? The novice level is where you learn what methods elicit your dog's best performance. Also, after scores are posted, note the length of the course, your time, your faults or point deductions, your placement, whether you qualified, number of dogs in the class and number of dogs that qualified. This information will help you track your progress as you gain experience. This said, please remember that agility is not a job. It is a sport intended for fun for you and your dog. Don't take it so seriously that you lose sight of this purpose. Make having fun your top priority and you'll enjoy agility, the fastest-growing dog sport in the country.

Any ideas for improvements to this guide sheet? Please contact Victoria Rose, PO Box 4816, Auburn, CA 95604 - 916-624-7355 (home/office/fax)

Be sure to also check out Your First Trial.

Editor’s Note: Rules are current as of December 1997 but are subject to change by the individual organizations. Also be aware that the performance rules described here apply to the Novice class in each organization. Some rules will change as you move up to higher levels. This guide sheet may be duplicated for personal use or as a student handout as long as proper acknowledgement is given to Clean Run Productions.

Copyright © 1997-2006 by Clean Run Productions.



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