NORTH SHORE DOG TRAINING CLUB

Obedience Handlers' Questionnaire
October 2006

Rationale and Procedure
A survey that began as a result of one club's need to know what factors encourage handlers to enter obedience trials soon expanded to include respondents from a wide variety of breeds and from all over the country, using both the internet and snail mail. For example, many on the AKC Delegates chat line cooperated in the project forwarding the survey to the obedience handlers in their clubs. It became obvious that handlers wanted to be heard and that clubs wanted to receive copies of the results to help improve their events. With the cost of sites and other expenses escalating, clubs feel the need to attract good entries. In a statement to the September 2006 AKC Delegates meeting, Robert Stansell, AKC V.P. Event Operations, listed initiatives that he urged clubs to adopt to increase participation in dog events Many were the same as those mentioned by handlers in this survey.

NSDTC thanks all who responded, those who helped distribute the questionnaires, and club members Mary Anne Fowler and Janie Wondergem for their help and expertise.

There were a total of 336 respondents. On some questionnaires, some items were not checked. Thus, the percentages did not always equal 100. Four surveys were not in acceptable form for tallying and are not included in the statistics. Numbers are rounded to the nearest tenth.

Results
Items are listed in order of importance as indicated by handlers using the "somewhat important" and "very important" percentages combined. This section is self-explanatory, and could be a guide to clubs. For example, air conditioning is very important, but cash prizes are not a determining factor for most.

   
Not important
Somewhat important
Very important
1 Site is air conditioned in the summer
6.0%
18.5%
5.6%
2 Past experience with host club events was positive
6.0
41.7
52.4
3 Judges have a reputation as competent, fair and consistent
3.6
18.2
75.0
4 Site has room for crating near the rings
10.7
34.2
55.1
5 Judges are known to be friendly toward participants
7.1
33.3
56.0
6 Site is indoors
14.3
29.2
56.5
7 Site is within 75 miles from home
16.1
36.6
47.3
8 Date has no or few conflicting events
17.9
48.8
33.3
9 No parking fees
30.4
39.3
29.2
10 Classes are not limited
33.7
50.9
14.9
11 Event offers Rally
47.0
27.4
24.7
12 Food is available for sale at site
58.6
32.4
8.0
13 Non-regular classes are offered
58.6
31.5
6.3
14 Event has both conformation and obedience at the site
70.2
20.5
9.2
15 Misc. trophies such as group, breed, other titles, etc. are offered
62.0
11.6
5.7
16 Cash awards are given
84.2
14.6
1.2

Additional Handler Comments
The following is a summary of comments contributed by handlers in addition to the 16 issues on the questionnaire.

It seems that some things important to handlers are often things clubs can provide. For example, good stewards were mentioned repeatedly as being very important as was the need for friendly, helpful host club committee members. Other issues mentioned were things clubs can attempt to provide and/or consider when researching sites such as restrooms, crating space, wide aisles, parking and motels.

Two statements stood out, one because it is a wake up call and one because it was humorous, were as follows: "The premium lists need to indicate if there is breed specific legislation in the area," and "I need an indoor facility because I show Hairless Chinese Cresteds who would never sit bare butts on grass!"

The following are comments mentioned at least two or more times. They are listed according to the number frequency mentioned.

  1. The most frequent comment was the desire for a site that was not noisy, dirty, poorly lit, poorly matted, and crowded. It was important to have space in the aisles for access and not be close to distractions.
  2. Many handlers liked trials where the host club members were helpful and courteous helping create a friendly atmostphere. Event secretaries who responded to questions was also mentioned.
  3. Parking that is close to the rings with no or reasonable fees is definitely a consideration.
  4. There was a strong feeling that conformation and other activities either not be scheduled at the same time or at least be situated far enough away from the obedience area as not to create problems such as noise and crowded aisles.
  5. Considering the fairness, consistency and demeanor of the judges was repeated often in this section of the questionnaire, possibly indicating the importance of this in decision making.
  6. An issue that clubs should probably note was the need for friendly and knowledgeable stewards who could help handlers and make them feel welcome.
  7. Dog-friendly motels nearby with reasonable rates is a definite consideration for those out of the area.
  8. For outdoor trials, shade is important, and for all trials a grassy area for exercising is a plus.
  9. Reasonable entry fees is desired.
  10. A number of handlers requested either ring side crating areas or at least crating near the rings.
  11. Clean restrooms near the rings was often mentioned.
  12. A safe environment and a facility that is easy to locate is important.
  13. Issues mentioned a few times included campsites, vendors, weekday events, warm-up areas nearby, site and judge accommodating handlers with disabilities, matches at the site, prizes and rosettes, enough entries for OTCH points, clean-up enforcement, enough judges to avoid late day times, and inclusion in premium list of breed-specific legislation in the area.

 

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