As results come in for our March league, it occurs that we have a prodigious task in training our judges to understand rules for performance. I’m seeing a lot of “E” scores in the reporting. Under our rules about the only way to earn a score of Elimination is for the dog to poop in the ring or for the handler to pick up his or her dog in the middle of a run and quit the course.
I’m not discouraged, mind you. Recognize that our rules for performance were deviously hidden in the pages of our Rules and Regulations. It is natural for an experienced agility person, in lieu of actually reading the rules, to rely on that experience to extrapolate the rational standard for performance.
Can You Say “Granularity?”
The problem with a score of “E” is that it cuts off any hope of measuring performance or, for that matter, comparing scores. As the National Dog Agility League (NDAL) is not primarily a titling agility registry we require a system that allows a comparison of scores. Purists in the sport will spit and sputter in objection to a dog earning only 5 faults for a wrong course. But if you think about it, those 5 faults will move the dog down in the standings without actually removing the performance score as though it never existed.
The standard fault is signaled by the judge: Raised hand, open palm. The scribe will write an “S” on the scribe sheet. The scorekeeper will assign 5 fault points for each standard fault. Performance errors that earn a standard fault include:
- Missed contacts ~ Only the down contact is judged except in the case of a side-mount.
- Wrong-course ~ Only one wrong course fault until the dog is back on course, no matter how many obstacles the dog takes on his detour. Commitment with four paws is required to earn a wrong course.
- Fly-off of the teeter ~ This fault is called only when the down plank doesn’t hit the ground, or if the dog comes off the plank without physical control.
- Missed weave poles ~ One occurrence only, aggregated with missed entry
- Displacing hurdle poles
- Leaving the table before completion of the count ~ One occurrence only
The refusal is signaled by the judge: Raised hand, closed fist. The scribe will write an “R” on the scribe sheet. The scorekeeper will assign 5 fault points for each refusal.
The refusal is called on contact obstacles only.
Failure to Perform
The failure is signaled by the judge: Both hands raised, open palm. The scribe will write an “F” on the scribe sheet. The scorekeeper will assign 20 fault points for each failure to perform. Performance errors that earn a failure, or may earn a failure, include:
- Excessive Delay at Start: ~ 5 faults to Elimination
- Outside assistance ~ 5 faults to Elimination
- 3 occurrences of leaving the table early ~ Failure to Perform
- 3 occurrences of missed weave poles ~ Failure to Perform
- Failure to perform ~ 20 faults
- Excessive handler assistance ~ 5 faults to Elimination
The elimination is signaled by the judge: Crossed arms. The scribe will write an “E” on the scribe sheet. The scorekeeper will “E” the dog’s score, and no time is recorded. Performance errors that earn elimination include:
- Unsportsmanlike behavior ~ Elimination and Excused
- Aggression to humans or other dogs ~ Elimination and Excused
- Dog ceasing to work or leaving the test area ~ Elimination and Excused
- Fouling the course ~ Elimination and Excused
Rules and Regulations
You can download your very own copy of the Rules and Regulations here:
Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. You’ll find in the web store The Book of Agility Games, an invaluable reference to clubs engaged in league play.