Dog Trainer's Survey - Exhibitor Comments ~ Continued From Section I
*** I think that having the most experienced and successful handlers (referred to as "the OTCH people" at many of the trial that I attend) be more supportive and warmer to the newer people would be a HUGE help in keeping people in the sport. Right now they have their own "private" crating area etc.
I also believe that AKC should somehow set up a separate title track for the OTCH handlers. Right now, as they enter trial after trial to accumulate points, the newer people in Open B or Utility B have literally NO chance to place in these classes. The placements ALWAYS go to the same people and the new exhibitors have no chance of a placement. Many of these people are also "personal friends" and have long conversations with the judges *before* they compete. This also contributes to the feeling of hopelessness of the newer handlers. "Why should we even bother?"
*** I feel that the Command Discrimination for Open B should just be in different places not always after Figure 8 like in A-- not totally different exercises. Before the change the B class had all the same exercises just in different orders now in B we have different exercises. Not fair do not offer any more OTCh points.
*** I wish AKC would review their preferred program. I will continue to compete in preferred open (and hopefully utility), because my 9 year old dog struggles with higher jump heights now at his age. However, preferred is technically the same class now as regular open except for jump heights. The use of the Open B order of exercises (and the rotating signals discrimination) did not change, making it actually more complex and challenging than Regular Open A. With the current changes it would be more fair to either have an Open A and Open B for preferred, or have a veterans jump height option in regular open as other titling organizations offer. I would prefer to be working on our regular Open CDX, but at nine years old, my dog needs the lower jump heights. I would also support a broad jump exercises that offers the handler to stand beyond the jump as ASCA does. It is easier on the dogs' joints.
*** I think the cost for entry fees are crazy, they should be reduced if they want more participation.
*** Need to do more to make judging equitable
*** I hate the new Command Discrimination exercise! I am competing with my Novice A dog in Open A. She performs every exercise beautifully except the Command Discrimination/DOR. It's been a year and a half since we earned her CD title and after many attempts we have 1 leg toward her CDX, with mostly the CD exercise NQing us. My dog could do the OOS exercises perfectly.
I am at the point of not trialing in Obedience any longer. While, I know how much hard work is involved and it shouldn't be a cakewalk, with the cost of shows and travel/hotel costs (only one show/year is closer than 99 miles away) I am having a hard time justifying continuing to spend a great deal of money on something that we cannot be successful in, and with that I mean even a earning a Q.
Even though I love Obedience and I do receive wonderful compliments on what a great little working dog I have, I am frustrated and discouraged that I cannot earn the CDX with my "great little working dog". I know some will say that I should train harder, yet I do spend many hours training and proofing my dog. There are so many other sports and events that I can do and be successful at with my dog why should I continue something that I cannot be successful at?
*** I have been an exhibitor, off and on, since 1984. I feel that changes made in the past improved the sport (jump heights in particular) however the "dumbing down" of the stay exercises I truly believe has made shows more dangerous in general. New trainers are not training reliable, calm stays. The old rules required much more stability, now it seems dogs are less likely to really understand that part of their job in all situations, at trials or in every day life. I am a cross-over R+ positive trainer having come from the methods of the 1980's but this is one area I believe we are slowly eroding in importance by continuously making it easier.
*** The Preferred Level of classes was a great addition to our sport because with the lowered jump heights our veteran dogs still have a chance to shine without being regulated to the veterans only class. Personally, I would like to see Preferred Open and Preferred Utility combined with the regular Open B and Utility B classes, since they are absolutely identical except for the jump heights and how the championship points are calculated. This would help increase the number of entries in Open B and Utility B with exhibitors able to receive more OTCH points in the regular classes - as for Preferred, the points are based only on the scores and not on placements.
*** I am currently training my first hopeful UD dog. Although I haven't yet entered the open/utility classes, I am very excited about the new exercises in both novice/open. Challenging exercises and increased safety to my dog. I commend the AKC for these changes, thank you!
*** I believe the sport is in need of a separate class for dogs who have already attained their OTCH
*** I think AKC should not only encourage the public to train and compete in Rally and OB, I think they should actively make changes to both sports to make them more exciting and fun for handlers, dogs and spectators. I think changes could be made to make the sports more fun while still maintaining a similar level or difficulty. General things that may make the sports more fun would be more movement, less stays, more props, more variability in exercises or order of exercises. I believe the sport of OB needs to evolve to attract more competitors.
*** I see diminishing participation as frustration with the mess AKC rules changes have made. They have always been about the money, but now they are ignorant in their implementation. They have not changed to add value.
*** The Out of Sight Stays should have remained in Open . The AKC could have required that leashes remain on the dogs OR they could have changed to an honor down while the next team was heeling and a group sit stay Or for Open B could have required only one stay - 3 orders having a sit - 3 orders having a down. Novice stays are now what we used to teach in the first 8 week class. Broad jump - I have suggested to the AKC every time they ask for suggestions from the competitors that 3 orders have jumps with the handler to the right of the jump and 3 orders with the handler on the left. This would prevent the constant stress on one side. I think the cranked up head position favored by many competitors does more harm structurally to our dogs than the broad jump. You didn't ask this but I think the best thing the AKC could do to get people to stay in obedience is that once a team has earned the OTCH they should compete in a separate class . Yes this is a dumbing down of the OTCH but I think it would greatly increase the number of "B" entrants competing.
*** I am aging out of Obedience. competition, but have enjoyed my run!
*** I really enjoy the new Tracking articles now appearing in F&F. It's a sport I just started.
*** I'm concerned we are dumbing down the sport to make it easier for people who don't want to train the more difficult exercises, in order to get more people to compete.
*** I believe that AKC judges should remember that when they attend a trial as an exhibitor, they should act like an exhibitor and not attempt to use and invoke their title of an AKC judge to influence the members of the trial and event committees. I personally witnessed an occurrence of this nature and lost respect for the judges (there was more than one), as well as the trial and committee members who catered to them. I have since elected not to compete under these judges, and elected not to enter trials at the AKC-affiliated club. The experience, itself, greatly reduced my desire and ambition to continue to compete in a sport that I enjoy.
I believe that, in an effort to reduce the probability of disturbances and/or reactions of aggression at trials, that "un-entered" dogs should not be crated or permitted on the premises at AKC-related trials. In addition to creating possible disturbances, un-entered dogs take up much-needed crating space for others. I would like to see the AKC require and enforce a rule of this nature. Premiums can, however, provide the names of nearby facilities for those who elect to bring un-entered dogs with them. I also believe the "sportsmanship rules" should be prominently posted at each trial, as well as consequences for those who do not abide by them. Without consequences, the words are meaningless.
*** I believe that it is essential that all dogs learn basic skills for their own safety and the public's safety: sit, down, come, stay, off, heel, no.
*** Obedience training is hard, takes time and unfortunately most people do not want to work that hard. Thus nose work, barn hunt, dock diving etc. have infringed on obedience and trial entries. I don't want it dumbed down, but perhaps not be as strict in scoring and behavior in the ring. Allow for more talking and praise towards the dog. Perhaps people will start to return.
*** I would like the dog to jump the broad jump with handler on either the left or right side of the jump (judges choice). The dog would need to learn to turn both directions.
*** I would like for the AKC to eliminate the requirement of having earned a CDX from being able to be a Rally judge.
*** Thanks for having this survey, maybe the AKC might take some notice. Apparently I am not the only one that has opinions about the Broad Jump and Command Discrimination since they were specifically addressed.
I feel changes should be addressed by people that actually do the sport, not someone in an office that does not participate in Obedience. All Open and Utility should be put together, (forget Preferred) people can jump whatever height they want, this is not an athletic competition, it is a training competition, who cares if a dog jumps 10" or 20". Then have AKC create an OTCH "Specials" class so participates (wanting to achieve an OTCH) are not "angry at the exhibitors" that want to continue showing their OTCH dogs but keep taking OTCH points away from others. This is a real issue and leads people to other dog sports and other venues. Not every dog can be a 198 or 200, not everyone can train a dog to a 198 or 199, but still deserve to have an obedience Champion. Why is Obedience one of the only dog venues where you have to beat Champions to get points? Especially since Conformation and Obedience are always under the same event number, if they are considered the "same" judging styles, they should be the same.
*** I hope that someday dog trainers exhibitors and judges can all learn to respect each other instead of pointing fingers and blaming others. The biggest problem today is that both extremes (positive trainers and balanced) don't want to listen to each other. Everyone is trying their best to improve and there is validity on both sides.
*** I have competed in agility since the mid '90's. I have titled 2 dogs in obedience, and 5 dogs in agility, 2 of them to Masters level and also in other organizations. I stopped doing obedience trials because of the lack of control with Novice people and dogs in the stays. Since I learned of the rule changes I have started to train again in obedience and plan to compete in obedience trials. I feel my dogs will be safer because I don't have to worry about unsafe dogs in the same ring with my dog. Being on leash with the stays at least gives time to react if a situation might start. I would like it even better if there were short stays during the individual tests with no other dog to interfere.
*** Impulse control in the presence of other dogs is the hallmark of a well trained dog. Bring back traditional group stays!!! Obedience is hard. We need to start challenging owners to step up their game. A Novice Trick Title is not the same as a Novice Obedience title.
*** I feel we need more monitoring of dogs outside the ring, there is way to much unacceptable behavior on both the dogs and handlers going on and should be addressed by AKC reps.
*** The AKC May have sought input before the May 2018 rule changes, but they ignored exhibitors and judges. They used a trumped-up petition to justify that, pushed by a few high-profile folks and containing thousands of signatures of people who never have, and never will enter obedience trials. They are making the sport unwelcoming to small breeds, designed for retrievers and herding breeds. It's sad. No real stays should make exhibitors concerned for their dog's safety. By trying to satisfy whiners and people who will never compete, you are changing the sport and truly losing its value. I love obedience, but I am seriously considering walking away. New people want quick, easy solutions. Not to dirty their hands... The AKC appears to care less about obedience, with a focus on making money from easier sports that only require the AKC to issue paper. When CGC was defined as a title we were doomed!