CPE & Dogs

CPE & Dogs
Stevie MacDonald

Canine Performance Events (CPE) is one of the newest dog agility organizations in the United States. While some of the games and courses can seem baffling to a beginning competitor, one of the cornerstones of CPE's founding principles was to create a relaxed agility atmosphere that welcomed both purebred and mixed breed dogs of all sizes.


CPE was founded in 1995 by Linda Eickholdt. A seasoned United States Dog Agility Association (USDAA) competitor, she set out to form an organization that incorporated the games and events held by USDAA but had a less demanding and more relaxed atmosphere. Started in Michigan, CPE continues to grow, and there are now host clubs throughout the United States.


While young dogs of any age can be registered with CPE, they are not eligible to compete in a trial until they are 15 months old. Healthy, well-behaved dogs of any breed (except for wolves or wolf-hybrids), mix or size can be registered. Purebred and mixed-breed dogs alike may be spayed, neutered or intact, but a bitch in heat cannot enter the ring. Other disqualifications for competing are blind, lame or aggressive dogs.


Dogs can be entered in several different programs once they have received their permanent registration (P-card) and jump height. The Regular program is open for all dogs. The Veterans program is open for dogs who are 6 years or older on the day of the trial, and they can jump 4 inches lower and have a more lenient course time allowance. The Enthusiast program is similar to Veterans but open to dogs of any age, and Specialist dogs can jump 8 inches lower than the regular jump height.

These different programs allow older dogs and dogs who may be compromised due to breed or structure (for instance, tiny dogs, or fairly unathletic breeds like Bulldogs and Mastiffs) to compete for separate titles without being held to the same standards as young, fast dogs.

Games and Courses

In addition to standard agility courses, CPE has many games. Colors, Wildcard, Snooker, Full House, Jackpot and Jumpers all have complex sets of rules, but most people take the CPE philosophy of having fun seriously, and if you forget what the rules are or your dog pees in the ring, there are really no consequences beyond simply not getting a Q (qualifying) for that run.

For you and your dog to learn CPE, it's easiest to find a club that teaches either CPE or USDAA games and courses. This way you both will have some experience with the games, and it will be a shorter learning curve on the course.


The dog gets titles by getting the required number of "legs" (qualifying runs) for each type of course. When he has earned all the titles for his program, he is eligible for a champion title like his C-ATE (CPE Agility Team Extraordinaire) and C-ATCH (CPE Agility Trial Champion.)