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Performance Standards

Following is a paraphrased synopsis of the basic performance rules for dog agility as set forth in USDAA official rules & regulations.  For a complete copy of the rules, check out the eBook in our Forms & Documents Library, or visit the USDAA® Store to order a copy.

Contact Obstacles

  • Ascend, cross and begin descent to have completed the obstacle
  • Leaving the obstacle prior to beginning descent is a refusal
  • Special Rules:
    1. See-saw not touching the ground before the dog leaving, but after it begins to tilt, is a fly-off penalty
    2. Descent is deemed to be begun with one paw in the masters classes and four paws in all other classes
  • Down position for five seconds (generally interpreted to mean in a position of rest)
  • Special Rules:
    1. Masters and Advanced – Cumulative count; Starters (and Novice) – Consecutive count
    2. Leaving the table before the end of the five second count is penalized only once as a standard fault
    3. A refusal cannot be penalized once the dog has been on the table
Weave Poles
  • Proper entry, entering on the right side of pole #1 and passing through to the left side of pole #2
  • After proper entry, the dog must weave down the complete line alternating back and forth without missing a pole
  • Special rules:
    1. Improper entry is a refusal
    2. After proper entry, the dog can no longer incur a refusal penalty
    3. Dog may be faulted for a missed pole only once in performance of the obstacle; any errors must be corrected
  • Enter and exit in the direction defined
  • Special rules:
    1. Exiting the entrance or jumping over the tunnel is a refusal; entering the wrong end is wrong course
All Jumps and Hurdles
  • Jump in the direction defined above top rail or through tire
  • Special rules:
    1. Jumping or running under the jump or any part thereof in the wrong direction is wrong course
    2. Jumping a wing or running or jumping beneath the top rail of a jump is a refusal
    3. Jumping between the tire and frame is a refusal
Hurdle or Obstacle Combinations
  • Perform in sequence as defined by the judge
  • Special rules:
    1. Taking obstacles out of sequence is the wrong course
    2. efusals are considered only on the first element of a combination unless otherwise defined by class rules

Course Handling Standards

Elimination and immediate dismisal from the ring for any of the following:
  • Poor Sportsmanship
  • Verbal or physical abuse of dog, judge or ring personnel
  • Excessive handler assistance*, including outside assistance
  • No timing devices, training devices, food or toys in ring
  • Signs of aggression that show intent to harm; action other than playfulness
  • Out of control
  • Time infringement and safety issues
  • Excessive delay
  • Leaving the ring before or after the run, out of control
  • Running the wrong course, where fault limits are imposed
    (Starters/Novice/Advanced – Four paw rule; Masters – any part of dog)
  • Fouling the ring before, during or after round
  • Violation of the four-paw Starters/Novice Safety Rule, which provides that a dog may not reattempt a contact obstacle after a refusal where the dog had been on that obstacle with all four paws

*Pursuant to the rules, "assistance" is defined as physically touching an obstacle or the dog in such a manner that such contact aids the performance, avoids a penalty, or saves time that might otherwise have been lost had such contact not occurred. Final determination is made by the judge.

Handling Faults

Penalties of varying value may be assessed for handler or outside assistance, excluding that which may be deemed excessive and result in elimination. The amount of the penalty will be determined by the judge based upon the severity of the error (i.e., fault avoidance, time enhancement, refusal avoidance, wrong course avoidance, etc.)

Refusal Faults

A refusal occurs in performance upon occurence of any one of the following:
  • Significant hesitation
  • Turning back after beginning a focused approach of correct obstacle
  • Running out past the front plane of the next obstacle in sequence
  • Incomplete performance as defined in the rules

Three refusals cumulatively on course equals "Elimination" in the Masters and Level III classes; three refusals on any contact obstacle in the Advanced or Level II classes equals "Elimination". Refusals are not penalized in the Starters (or Novice) and Level I classes.

Time Faults
In classes where a standard course time is appropriate, time penalties shall be assessed for each portion of a second (measured to the nearest 1/100th of a second).  The judge shall set a standard course time within the parameter of the rules based upon a number of variable including but not limited to the following:

  • Distance
  • Course design difficulty/flow assessment
  • Site conditions
  • Weather, surface conditions, obstructions & hazards
Course Time Standards for the Standard Agility Class

Dogs Jumping 12" and 14":

Class Level
General Range
Absolute Minimum
Starters/Novice 2.00 - 2.15 yps  2.00 yps
Advanced 2.50 - 2.70 yps 2.50 yps
Masters 2.75 - 2.95 yps 2.75 yps


Dogs Jumping 16" and 18":

Class Level
General Range
Absolute Minimum
Starters/Novice 2.00 - 2.20 yps  2.00 yps
Advanced 2.60 - 2.80 yps 2.60 yps
Masters 2.85 - 3.05 yps 2.85 yps


Dogs Jumping 22" or 26":

Class Level
General Range
Absolute Minimum
Starters/Novice 2.00 - 2.25 yps  2.00 yps
Advanced 2.75 - 2.95 yps 2.75 yps
Masters 3.00 - 3.30 yps 3.00 yps

Special Rules:

  • In Performance classes of 8", 12", 16" and 20", three additional seconds shall be allowed as compared to the Championship Program for the 12", 16", 22" and 26" height class time standards.

See the complete Rules & Regulations for time standards for other classes.

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