News For Novice Exhibitors

Agility Terminology2022-06-30T07:01:34-04:00
  • Briefing – this happens before you walk the course. The judge gathers everyone in the ring and “briefly” goes over some things you need to know. Such as when to enter the ring with your dog. What her table count sounds like. She may give you a few reminders like you have 3 times to try the weave poles and then you need to move on.
  • Scribe sheet Otherwise known as your score sheet. There is a scribe sheet for each dog in each class.  At PawPrint Trials, we always have carbonless scribe sheets. After you run your course, the white copy of your scribe sheet is given to the trial secretary to score. The yellow copy goes in a basket near the score table. That copy is for you. Try to pick up your copy shortly after you run. If there is a question regarding your run, you will have a better chance of the judge remembering your call shortly after your run, rather than 2 hours later.  If possible, please have someone video your run. Though a judge may only use a video for if there is a timer malfunction, it is helpful for you for training purposes. You may also write notes on the yellow scribe sheet about your run.
  • Volunteer Measuring Official (VMO) If there is a Volunteer Measuring Official at the trial, it will be listed in the confirmation letter.  If you do not have an AKC Agility Height Card, you will need to be measured prior to your first run.
  • Standard Course Time (SCT) Your judge designed a course, meeting the requirements for a Novice course. She submitted it to the AKC for approval. After the course is set up, she will wheel it to determine the yardage.  Then she uses a formula to determine how much time you have to run the course. That is referred to as the Standard Course Time.  She will tell you how much time you have at the briefing.
  • Gate Sheets This a listing of each dog in each class. They are separated by class (Standard, Jumpers with Weaves etc) and by level (Novice, Open, Excellent and Masters). The day before the trial, from noon-5pm, you will be able to check in online for the following day. If you can’t check in online, you will check yourself in on the gate sheets the morning of the trial.
  • Maps The judge has designed a course for each class offered. A map of the course for that day will be available for download from my website after midnight of the day of the trial. There will also be copies posted on the wall. Most trials do not have printed course maps for exhibitors. You can print a copy before you leave for the trial or take a photo of the map with your phone once you arrive at the trial.
My First Day2022-06-30T07:01:55-04:00

Step by step what to do at a trial

When to arrive:  A few days before the trial the running order will be posted on my website for each day. In addition, Real-Time Run-Order will be on my website on the day of the trial. An estimation of what time you will be running will be both run orders. Real-Time Run-Order will update throughout the day. It is only an estimate of time; you may run earlier or later than the posted time.

  • Once you arrive, set your dogs crate up. Then potty your dog. Make sure you bring water for your dog.  Then potty yourself.
  • If you haven’t downloaded the map, take a photo of the posted copy. Start to review the map so you have a bit of an idea what you want to do once you get in for your walk. You will get 8 minutes to walk after the judges briefing.
  • The gate sheets will also be posted outside the ring. You may also check in online the day before. If you were not able to check in online, please tell the gate steward that you will be running your dog.
  • Sit and watch some of the runs in the other classes. You can take a picture of the other maps with your phone and try to figure out how you would run it. It is especially helpful for you to watch Open because it will usually be like Novice. You may get some good ideas!
  • As a class is winding down, you may want to go potty your dog again. Have all of that done so you are ready to walk the course when it is your time.
  • Feel free to ask the judge any question. If you have a question, there is a good chance someone else has the same question!
  • About 10 minutes before you are going to run, get your dog out and warm him up. Jog a little, if your dog can spin, ask him to spin. Stretching and warming up your dog will prevent injuries.
  • You will be expected to be near the ring a couple of dogs before you go in. The gate steward will call your name and it’s expected you will let them know who you are so they can keep things moving.
  • You will enter the ring with your dog on leash. When the other dog has finished the course and they have their dog on leash, you can take the leash off your dog. You can take it off earlier and just hold onto the collar if you’d like.   AKC allows you to run your dog without a collar or with a buckle collar. You can’t run your dog with a choke chain or martingale collar or anything with metal studs attached. Also, no tags can be attached to the collar.  Once you take your leash off the dog, you may put the leash in your pocket, or wear it or toss the leash out of your way.  Once you start running, the volunteer leash runner will pick up your leash and bring it to the exit gate so it will be there when you finish.
  • You are not allowed to leave your dog until you hear GO. Then you may lead out or start running with your dog-whatever you have been taught to do.
  • At the end of your run, put your leash on your dog BEFORE you exit the ring. Try to leash up your dog quickly because the next dog is on the line to run and they are probably just as nervous as you were 😉
  • Take your dog for a little walk to cool them down. Tell them how wonderful they were and let yourself breathe. Then put your dog in the crate and go get your copy of your scribe sheet to see how you did.
  • Once the judge has finished the class, she will review the scores. Once she is done and is starting the next class, we will release the ribbons .

How do I know if I qualified?    Well, first you should read the AKC rules for agility.   There are quick launch links at the bottom of the first page of my website with additional helpful information.     A qualifying score for Novice can be 85 to 100.  A score of 100 is referred to as a clean run.

Examples of faults:

  • R for refusal. That means your dog started towards an obstacle and either stopped or went around it.
  • W is for wrong course. If your dog goes the wrong obstacle, you will get an W.
  • T is for a table fault . If your dog jumps on the table and jumps off before the judge says GO, you will incur a table fault.

Each of those faults are 5 points each.  If you are in Novice Standard and your scribe sheet says RWT -then you have a refusal, a wrong course and a table fault. If you are under standard course time, you will still qualify.

  • For Novice Standard you can have a maximum of 2 R’s, 2 T’s, 1 W -5 points each so any combination that still is only 15 points off.
  • For Novice Jumpers, you are allowed 2 R’s but no W’s.
  • If you are over standard course time, you will lose 1 point for each second over time. If you had no mistakes but were 15 seconds over time, you can still qualify with an 85.
  • If your scribe sheet shows an F, that means your dog knocked a bar, or missed the yellow contact or missed an obstacle and never completed it.
  • If you have an E, it means you left the course before you finished, you were excused. You can’t qualify with an F or E.

What should I do if something goes wrong in the ring?   Going into the ring for the first time can be a nerve wracking -for anyone.   Someone told me, when I was starting a new sport, that my purpose of going into the ring was not to be perfect. I was going into the ring to see where the holes were in our training. To learn what we need work on and to see what we have mastered.    If something goes wrong while you are in the ring, you need to decide if you want to try to fix it or if you should move on and make a note that needs work.

Some common ring situations:

  • You tell your dog to stay on the start line and walk away. Before you can release your dog, she gets up and starts to come to you. You can bring her back and make her sit BUT you can’t lead out again. If you choose to bring her back, you will have to start running with your dog from the start line.  As a Novice dog, you would probably be better to just try to go on and make a note that you need work on your start line 😊
  • Your dog runs by the weave poles or does the first 3 and then pops out. You can try to get weave poles 3 times before the judge will ask you to move on.  You won’t get a refusal in novice, for the weave poles. But it can eat up time.   If your dog normally is good in the weave poles, bring them back and start again. Make sure you give your dog plenty of room to get back in -start a full dog length before the poles. If your dog has struggled with the weave poles in training, and they miss them in the trial, maybe move on and work on it at home.
  • Your dog runs around a jump. Call them back and try to bring them around the jump on your side so they don’t back jump. That would be considered a wrong course. And again, it’s important that you give your dog PLENTY of room when you bring them back. You can’t expect them to hop over a jump if they are right in front of it.


Should I volunteer?   Yes, yes and more yes.  It takes 10 people for each class to make a trial run.  We need 4 ring crew. Those people put the bars back up if they fall or when we change jump heights.   We need a leash runner. That person takes the leash and moves it from the start line to the exit, before the person finishes with the dog.  Score runner -that person brings the score sheet to me in the shed to score.   All novice people can do those jobs. And you will learn a lot by watching others in the ring. IT is one of the best ways to learn a sport.   There will be a link on my website to sign up to volunteer. Please consider supporting the sport and volunteer.

Have fun with your dog. Remember, your dog is the best. You did your best with your best dog.  There is ALWAYS something good to find in a run.

Scoring Rules2022-06-30T07:02:20-04:00

A perfect score is 100. For all levels. except Masters, you must earn at least an 85. Masters level competitors are required to earn 100 points in order to qualify.

Scores are determined by two factors; time and course faults.

A Wrong Course or Refusal or Table fault are each worth 5 points

Failure or Excusal will result in an NQ.  Entering FEO (For Exhibition Only) will result in an NQ and implementing FnGo (Fix and Go) will also result in an NQ.

If you go over the Standard Course Time allotted, there are point deductions depending on the level of the class. Click on the SCORING link for more information about calculating your score.

Novice A or Novice B2022-06-30T07:02:54-04:00

If you have never put an AKC agility title on a dog, then you belong in Novice A. If you have earned ANY agility title on ANY dog, you must enter Novice B. For example, if you received a Novice Jumpers title on your dog, you would enter Novice B Standard for your next trial.

If you are entered in Novice A Standard and JWW and earn a Standard title, you may move up to Open Std. You must stay in Novice A JWW for any trial that has closed. For any trial that is still open, you will now enter Novice B JWW.

After you have earned your first AKC Agility title, you will never be in Novice A again. Your next dog will start in Novice B and any new classes you start will also start in Novice B.

Entry Methods2022-06-30T07:03:14-04:00

There are numerous methods to enter a trial.  PawPrint Trials use First Received unless otherwise noted.

First Received method means that entries received on OPENING DAY are accepted on a first received basis until limits are reached. Entries may be mailed prior to opening day to be received on Opening Day. They may not be received PRIOR to opening day. 24 hours after opening day, hand deliveries are accepted.

PawPrint Trials has a proprietary online entry service. We encourage you to use our online service for the most efficient and accurate method of entering instead of mailing an entry and risk having it lost or delayed.  Information for entering online is on the HELP screen.

If a breed club is hosting a trial, the club can accept entries for their breed only before accepting entries for other breeds. All breeds should enter for opening day. After the waiting period is over (generally 2 days), entries for other breeds are accepted in the order they were received.

Random Draw is another entry method that PawPrint Trials does not currently use.

Regular or Preferred Class2022-06-30T07:03:40-04:00

Regular (aka Championship level) classes were the first type of classes that AKC offered. In 2002, AKC also started offering PREFERRED level classes. These classes allow a dog to jump ONE jump height lower than measured AND gives another 5 seconds added onto the Standard Course Time.

For example, a dog that measures 22.25 would normally jump in the 24″ height division. They may enter the Preferred level class in the 20″ height division. Dogs may earn titles in each type -Championship and Preferred.

You may enter Preferred and Championship during the same event weekend but not for the same class on the same day. For example, you may enter Novice Preferred Standard and Novice Regular JWW but you may not enter Novice Preferred Standard and Novice Regular Standard.

You may switch back and forth between Preferred and Regular heights for different events. You may ONLY enter the correct Preferred Jump Height. Unlike the Championship class, you may NOT enter a higher level Preferred Jump Height.

You may move laterally from the Regular classes to the Preferred classes, without starting over in Novice Preferred.  For example, if your dog is in Masters 20″, you could move laterally to Masters Preferred 16″.  You may not move laterally from Preferred to Regular height. Please refer to the AKC Agility Rules and Regulations page 59 for specific details.

Jump Height Cards2022-06-30T07:04:21-04:00

If you have never been measured for a permanent AKC jump height card, you may still enter an AKC Agility Trial. Your confirmation letter will indicate if there will be an Volunteer Measuring Official (VMO). If so, the VMO will measure your dog and you will receive a temporary jump height card, if your dog is under two years of age. After the age of 2, all dogs must be measured twice by a VMO in order to get their permanent card.  All jump heights MUST be measured.  After you have been measured twice, the AKC will send you permanent jump height card in the mail in a couple of weeks.

If your dog measures over 22″ for the first measurement, check the box at the bottom of the form “Over 22″ Request Permanent Jump Height Card”.

If you do have a permanent jump height card from the AKC,  when completing the entry, check the box on the entry form that says you do not need to be measured.

If there isn’t a VMO present, you will be measured by the judge for that weekend only. If there isn’t a VMO present and your dog jumps 24″, you will not need to be measured for the weekend. You will remain on the To Be Measured list until you are measured officially.

General Briefing2022-06-30T07:04:43-04:00

The area around the ring will be congested.  Please watch your dog at all times, especially when in line to enter the ring.  It is your responsibility to protect your dog from other dogs, being bumped or stepped on, and from spectators that are unfamiliar with agility trials.


Dogs MUST enter the ring wearing a leash and MUST exit the ring wearing a leash including dogs being carried. Once inside the ring, handlers may remove the leash (and collar if desired) and either drop it or carry folded in a pocket or tied around handler’s body. If the dog runs in a collar, that collar must be a plain, buckle or snap collar. Stitching on the collar is allowed; any other attachments are not allowed. Dogs may not enter the ring wearing a collar that is not approved on AKC show grounds.


Dogs must complete all obstacles in order to be eligible for a qualifying score. If the next correct obstacle is a contact obstacle, and if the dog exits that obstacle without being on the descent of that obstacle, the handler may immediately ask the dog to reattempt that obstacle. An “R” fault will be recorded.


“Five, Four, Three, Two, One, GO”. All dogs MUST remain on the table until the word “GO” is completed. If the dog leaves the table during the count, the handler should put the dog immediately back on the table and the count is repeated from the start. If the dog leaves the table after “One” but before “GO” is completed, the handler should not put the dog on the table but rather continue on to the next obstacle. In both instances, the dog incurs a “T” fault.

FIX and GO ON (FNG) 

Handlers may take advantage of the new Fix ‘N Go option *ONE* time during their run. This option allows handlers to repeat any obstacle or sequence on course. Handlers may also opt to go back 2-3 obstacles on their approach to the “fixed” obstacle. Handlers may touch the dog and/or the equipment while “fixing” the obstacle. Handlers may use a 4th attempt at the weave poles as their “fix”. Handlers may opt to do a second lead-out at the start line as their “fix”. Using the Fix ‘N Go option results in a non-qualifying performance. Once the handler has used their Fix ‘N Go option, the max course time horn will sound at 45 seconds for a Jumpers course and 60 seconds for a Standard course at which time the team must leave the ring.

  • Judge signals a fix with X-crossed arms.
  • You may fix a startline-the second lead out past jump results in a timer manually starting your time.
  • You may gently lead your dog over/onto an obstacle (as long as the dog does not look distressed or is resisting)
  • You may pick up your dog and place it on obstacle or reset it by lifting it as long as it is done in a kind and gentle manner.
  • No food or toys in the ring or in pockets for Fix N Go


Handlers may use FEO option in running a FAST or Time 2 Beat course. Handlers wishing to use this option MUST declare so before beginning their run. Handlers running FEO may bring a toy into the ring as long as the toy does not leave the handlers possession at any time. Toys on extremely long ropes or sticks are not allowed. Toys that make noise are not allowed. Always keep in mind the next dog on the line or the dog running in the other ring and how your run may be affecting theirs. At no time are treats allowed in the ring, including handler’s pockets. This includes walk throughs.

Handlers may touch the dog or equipment. You may pick up your dog and place it on an obstacle or reset it by lifting as long as it is done in a kind and gentle manner. You may train a piece of equipment as many times as you want.  No harsh corrective actions/voices are allowed. You may run at a different height but must have entered that height with a separate entry form completed for lower height FEO classes.




1) Once the horn sounds, make your way to the finish as quickly and efficiently as possible. Do not ask the dog to take any obstacles along the way to the finish unless the dog chooses to take an obstacle directly in their path.

2) The finish is an obstacle that is bi-directional and live from “go”- always.

3) The start may be an imaginary line or a single obstacle. That obstacle may be bi-directional or uni-directional and will be marked on your map. If an obstacle is the start, your dog must take it before taking another obstacle – otherwise, the send is faulted.

4) Do not lead out until the timer sounds the “go” button. Time starts once the dog crosses the start line or obstacle. Time ends when the dog takes the finish obstacle.

5) Once the dog commits to the first obstacle in the send bonus, the handler must be outside the send area and must not cross the send line until the dog completes the final obstacle.’ Completion’ means all four of the dog’s feet have touched the ground after performing the last obstacle in the bonus.

6) A failed bonus may not be repeated for a qualifying score.


Time2Beat: 4-12 = 60 seconds; 16 = 55 seconds; 20/24= 50 seconds

FAST:    Regular height course time: 8 =38 seconds, 12/16 =35 seconds, 20/24/24C = 32 seconds;

Preferred height course time:: 4=41 seconds, 8/12= 38 seconds, 16/20 =35 seconds



  • Minimum allowable score required to qualify = 85
  • Additional non-qualifying faults (beyond those listed in Chapter 5, Sections 5 and 6). – More than 2 Refusal/Run-outs – More than 1 Wrong Course – More than 2 Table Faults
  • Time Penalties = 1 fault for every full second over Standard Course Time • Refusals and Run-outs during the performance of the Weave Poles will not be faulted.


  • Minimum allowable score required to qualify = 85
  • Additional non-qualifying faults (beyond those listed in Chapter 5, Sections 5 and 6). – More than 2 Refusals – Any Wrong Course
  • Refusals and Run-outs will not be faulted regarding the performance of the Weave Poles in this class. • Time Penalties = 1 fault for every full second over Standard Course Time



  • Minimum allowable score required to qualify = 85
  • Additional non-qualifying faults (beyond those listed in Chapter 5, Sections 5 and 6). – More than 1 Refusal/Run-out – More than 1 Wrong Course – More than 1 Table Fault
  • Time Penalties = 2 faults for every full second over Standard Course Time


  • Minimum allowable score required to qualify = 85
  • Additional non-qualifying faults (beyond those listed in Chapter 5, Sections 5 and 6). – More than 1 Refusal – Any Wrong Course
  • Time Penalties = 2 faults for every full second over Standard Course Time


  1. Handler or dog knocking down any obstacle or jump that is either presently being performed or will be performed. Handler jumps over, goes under, or steps on top of any obstacle. (If excessive the judge may excuse the handler for their own safety.)
  2. Displaces the top bar(s) or panel of a jump or breaking apart the tire jump.
  3. Failure to clear the span of the Broad Jump.
  4. Missing a contact zone (except missing the upside of the A-Frame or Dog Walk is not faulted).
  5. Seesaw fly-offs.
  6. Failure to complete all obstacles that are part of the course as described in Chapter 3.
  7. Running the wrong course and not correcting the run before crossing the finish line.
  8. Handler touching any obstacle prior to completion of the course.
  9. Contact between the handler and the dog that aids the performance of the dog.
  10. Any contact of dog and handler at the Pause Table, Weave Poles, and contact obstacles.
  11. Exceeding the refusal maximum for a given class.
  12. Exceeding the wrong course maximum for a given class.
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