Dog Trainer's Survey - Exhibitor Comments ~ Part III

Friday, February 01, 2019 8:15 AM | Front & Finish (Administrator)

***  I feel that some of my answers are dependent on my present dog situation. I've only got two dogs; one who completed his titles before the changes to obedience were implemented and another, younger dog who dislikes obedience so we're currently training in agility (since we've only been training for 6 months, this doesn't show up on your survey.) Because of this, it may be some time before I get to experience the changes to novice/open and have a valid opinion on those changes. I do own a heavy-bodied breed, though, and I don't believe that the broad jump did any physical harm to either of the ones I trialed at the open level.

*** I find other venues to have more reasonable, realistic rules and exercises, are more fun and more welcoming. 
I'm not a regular participant in AKC trials because I like the other venues better. 

***  There are newer obedience venues that have challenging exercises but are much more friendly to mixed-breed dogs and generally have nicer people in charge and judging. AKC Obedience venues are hectic and crowded and not respectful to the dogs feelings. AKC is now considered 'old school'. The new venues are more consistent with newer, kinder, more effective training practices.

***  I am very unhappy with the new command discrimination exercise!!! Due to the fact that I have put OTCH's on two dogs, I must bring my green dogs out in the B classes!  I do not mind having the exercises in a mixed up order, but then to have 5 variations of an exercise is being belief!  And not the stay exercise in Open has been changed to the stand only!!  WHY???  The AKC had ruined a sport I used to love.  I am unsure of whether I will continue with this sport

***  I would like to see a NEW preparation kind of class that is conducted and judged like Novice but the dog is on leash for all the heeling. Also, allowing us handlers to pick a time, maybe twice where we can verbally reward our dog during the heeling. Currently there is NO class to enter to get our 'nervous' dogs used to having a strange judge follow them around the ring. Many of us train alone and may also not have a building to train in with multi-ring distractions. Beginner Novice does not meet the need as you have to concentrate on the signs and so can't focus 100% on your dog. Also the judge does not follow you around the ring during heeling and call the commands out. Preferred Novice doesn't meet the need because it's exactly like Novice. Throughout my obedience competition career the biggest complaint I hear at trials is why does my dog not work the same as he/she does in training. I firmly believe a PREP class like this would help bridge the gap between training and showing. As for the Open class, I very much dislike the Command Discrimination. It's actually harder than Signals in Utility. Super confusing for a green dog learning both. But what I dislike the most about it is how un-fun and demotivating it can be. I have a dog that likes to run, jump and chase. This exercise makes obedience even less self motivating to most breeds than it already is.

***  Rally is often disrespected as a "lesser" sport. I personally find Rally to be a more challenging sport because of the unpredictability of the course. While scoring is more stringent in obedience, teams are performing prescribed exercises and know exactly what they will be asked to do beforehand. As I compete in both, I frequently see teams who were successful in the obedience ring do poorly in rally. I would like to see Rally taken more seriously as a sport, with more consistent judging, exhibitors more thoroughly prepared for competition, more stringent RACH requirements, a higher standard to qualify for the RNC, and Invitational's like we see in other sports.

***  I do not like the changes made to the stays in obedience. The stay in Beginner Novice and Preferred Novice is harder now than the stay on leash for regular novice dogs.  In Rally to get the championship there is no way I would enter 3 classes at one trial - who could afford to do that very often?

***  I love the sport of AKC Obedience ......I am afraid though it is being "watered" down to make it easier!  .....  Keep it tough! 

***  There should be a separate class for dogs which have earned their OTCH title. Currently, OTCH teams continue to compete endlessly, making it difficult and discouraging for upcoming teams. If OTCH teams competed against OTCH teams, the competition would be more fair, and upcoming teams would continue to trial in order to earn an OTCH. Many, many teams that I have spoken with give up on obedience after earning the CDX, because they find it demoralizing to work for a UD and then hit a dead end.

***  I would like to see Grad Open and Versatility classes offer the option of lower jump heights.  This would open up these classes to more dogs including older ones.

***  The  changes in the group exercises result in people not training their dog.

***  The Command Discrimination exercise is very difficult for those who are coming from Novice to Open and who do not have access to a training facility. Many newcomers are training their dogs on their own or with slight internet help.

***  I started by training my own dogs in 2002 using a book from 1975! I managed to get a CD and RA before my dog could not jump.  I also subscribed to Front & Finish although many of the articles were at a higher level that I could not really understand.  I now train at a facility and have learned so much and can now train to higher levels.  The only reason I started training was because I felt Rally was quite approachable for the average dog person.  I love the Preferred classes because I have older dogs that I would not ever ask to jump full height.

***  My dog developed Addison's Disease after completing his UKC Open title (with group and honor stays) but before entering AKC Open. As a result of his disease, he is unable to cope with group stays because he cannot regulate his own stress hormones. We skipped "regular" Open and entered Preferred Open and later Preferred Utility, earning two Qs to date. Now that group exercises are eliminated, we have returned to Open A and recently completed that title. We previously finished Versatility and now plan to enter Grad Open. I'm not convinced an out-of-sight stay has many practical applications in everyday life, but we do routinely practice stays as a self-control exercise.

***  The broad jump should be changed to handler standing in front of it & dogs does a front simple front sit.  Also my biggest concern is the high jump itself.  At trials it is usually made of wood or steel & if a dog hits it they can get injured.  It would be like hitting a solid wall.  I had a dog with jumping issues....he took off too early & he often ticked it hit it or crashed into it.  The solid high jump SHOULD be changed to a PANEL JUMP for the safety of the dog (like the panel jump in agility, where a panel can easily fall off if a dog hits it.) I have shown in AKC Obedience for over 37 years and have put 3 OTCH's on my dogs. Thank you for the survey & listening to us.

***  I love this sport and have competed since I was a kid. But dumbing it down is not the way to stop the  attrition. Dog training has been vilified by the AR people and the response has been inadequate. In a world where the public is told that collars are dangerous, we're fighting an uphill battle. 

***  The degree of difficulty in the Utility classes is keeping people from continuing to these upper levels.  The pressure on the dogs in these see classes is extreme. And many dogs just cant do it.  

***  I'd like to see more training articles from a variety of trainers. There is so little support anymore for the people interested in obedience. It would be nice to have different trainers present different training methods.

***  I don't feel there is enough recourse against judges who are not effective or rude to exhibitors. And I would like to see a LOT more positive approach from everyone concerned with AKC Obedience, especially for new competitors. Westminster's new Obedience competition is a good example of showing the public how much fun the sport can be. Too many AKC judges and stewards are so concerned about the Rules and Regulations that they forget this is a fun competition with purebred dogs that the public watches!

***  I feel that the OTCH points in Open B have been unchanged for years and need to be revised as equal to Utility.   

***  On the survey there was the question about the broad jump, but, why not allow for lower jump heights for veteran dogs similar to what ASCA does? That would be an easy way to encourage owners of older dogs to continue competing in regular classes.

***  Ring stewards and experienced handlers should be mindful of "Newbie A" handlers and work hard to encourage and extend hospitality.  I've experienced too many rude folks at trials which is a real turn off for those trying to learn the ropes and feel accepted in an often new and confusing setting.  

***  While I don't disagree that the landing and "sharp turn" over the broad jump can cause significant injury to a dog performing this exercise over and over, I DO believe that if the landing and turn are taught properly, then no "sharp turn" would happen and the risk of repetitive injury would be reduced.

***  Several years ago AKC offered a non-regular/non-titling class called Obedience Advanced Teamwork based on a lot of the European exercises . It was fun to train and compete in but it did not catch on The feeling among my training partners was because it didn't offer a title. I find myself getting bored with AKC obedience because it is dumbing down. I'm looking in to French Ring with my new puppy for something new and more interesting . I wish they would consider that class again with a title. I do tracking, herding, agility, and scent work too.

***  I have never participated in a Rally class.  Had to choose one as there was no answer option for "none".    Please don't tell me that the broad jump is the next victim of the obedience community's ire.  A smart trainer will lessen any risk by training the dog to jump correctly and over both sides to compensate what happens in the ring.  

***  The recent changes to BOTH the Novice and Open classes have strongly discouraged me from continuing to show in obedience.   After 30 years of showing in obedience, I was trying to get to a point I could apply for a provisional judging license for both Rally and Obedience. I finished my last CDX in March before the Rule changes and will NO LONGER BE SHOWING IN OBEDIENCE.   

I had just completed the requirements for submitting my Rally Judging Application and was about to get a new puppy to start working on a UD to qualify for my application as an obedience judge in the next 3-4 years.  Due to the changes to the Novice and Open classes, I WILL NOT CONTINUE to work in Obedience.  The changes have completely watered down the sport and made it exceptionally difficult to progress towards a UD or compare the past titles obtained by various dogs to the "new" titles.  

I'm utterly and totally  disgusted and discouraged with the AKC and the changes they made to the "historical"  Standard Obedience classes.   I will be moving towards HERDING and some Agility as my new focus for all trialing of my dogs and look at other events that have valve with my parent breed club for advanced titles to put Versatility and Performance ROM titles on my breeding dogs.

***  Aren't judges suppose to go through education classes/seminars to keep up to date on their judging? I've seen some older judges that don't seem to know the regulations very well.

***  I feel that the biggest detriment to the sport of obedience is the harshness of some competitors.  This was evidenced during the many posts about the proposed changes to group exercises. The Polaris of "Train don't complain!" camps pitted against "Get rid of groups" mirrored our national political climate in ugliness.  

When people like me voiced an opinion that did not match the Obedience Advisory Committee's leanings, we were shot down harshly.  I remember an F&F article where the author sniffed disdainfully at scores less than a "6"... 196.  (Thanks a lot, sweetheart, I am quite proud of my qualifying dogs that do not earn 6 or better.  This is why I dropped my subscription.)  

The outright snobbery of some people seems to have improved over the last 15 years but it still exists.  As long as AKC gives a disproportionate voice to OTCH competitors, the pool of people continuing on in the sport is going to continue to decline.  It was entirely clear that OAC was going to proceed as they did, regardless of competitor input.  Top competitors even said as much online.  Submitting my thoughts in writing was a waste of time.  

The only thing I did that was effective (clarification of verbiage) was talk to an OTCH person who was friends with someone on OAC. And as long as we keep seeing post from top competitors dissing other sports as "not real titles" and "something for people to do who can't train their dogs", we are going to continue to drive current competitors out and turn off new competitors.

We all should be encouraging everyone who trains their dogs... this is where the next generation of competitors comes from... instead of mocking their accomplishments. This is all dismaying to me, since I enjoy training obedience and find it incredibly helpful in creating well mannered dogs that do well in all canine sports.  I don't really know how to change this.  

***  While I did not have a problem with OOS in Open and have a medium-large breed dog who is training for Open now and was solid on OOS in training before the changes were implemented, I do have friends with toy breed dogs who were very concerned and would not enter Open with OOS in place.  I personally think OOS issues are a training problem and favored a solution of dogs passing / being "certified" to do OOS as a dog is "certified" before they can enter a tracking test. The signal exercise is easy for my dog so not a big problem with it, just preferred stays not disappear from obedience.  I strongly dislike the new Novice stays and thought the addition of leaving leash on was enough.  Seems like we keep lowering the bar instead of training and proofing more effectively which in turn may have the reverse effect and encourage the entry of dogs who otherwise might not have been safe to compete.  

***  Some of the changes are good.  However, making so many changes to both Rally and Obedience at the same time caused me to drop Rally as I could not do all of the training at once.  I think making Rally harder, is causing people to drop out!  Rally is supposed to be fun. Which is why I used to do both. 

***  I see that most Obedience shows I go to have mostly older ladies and a few older men participating. There are virtually NO young people. This sport will die out altogether if it does not start recruiting young people. Also true for the judges. They are mostly older women and a few older men. Many of them are obviously tired and sometimes short tempered, especially at the end of the day. This sport needs some young blood! 

***  While I don't mind the command discrimination exercise, it has been very difficult for some of my Open A students. I strongly disagree with the changes to the stay exercises. 

***  As the owner of smaller, less aggressive dogs I am thrilled with the elimination of the Open out of sight stays. There is too much risk if someone's dog has an issue. 

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