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Thread: Fundamental problem

  1. #1
    Senior Member Huff's Avatar
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    Default Fundamental problem

    With the threads going on about the limit entries in hunt tests it got me to thinking. The fundamental problems seem to be two things, lack of volunteers to put on an event and lack of grounds. The land issue is a problem that unless you have money willing to invest in land is not easy to resolve. The other issue, lack of volunteers, is something that we can fix. The question is how do we get more new people involved in the sport of dog training and testing? I am a new person myself only been involved for the last 6 years. I know what got me into this but that does not seem to be getting many new people in.

    How did clubs back 15 years ago recruit, retain, and cultivate new people into becoming long term members, workers, and judges?

    Our club hosts a training day every month, holds a mock test each spring, and has a Christmas party awards type banquet each year for members. Our dues are only $25 a year but if you work one day your membership is free for the next year.

    Maybe some of the long time people in this game can give some insights as what has worked or is this a problem that has existed forever. I know that peoples mind set has changed as time has went on but I still think that people are willing to work and do what is needed if it is something that they enjoy and feel is worth the effort as a hobby.

    Russell
    CH Chisholm Trail's Backdraft Bay MH**
    Chisholm Trail's Crossfire Sophie JH**
    "I say goodbye to my weakness, so long to the regrets"

  2. #2
    Senior Member John Lash's Avatar
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    I've done this since before there were hunt tests.

    It was always interest in a dog or dogs that brought new people to the game. Someone got a dog, desired to go further with that dog so they joined the local Field trial club. We were it, there was no other place to go. They were usually around long enough to work at least one trial. If they stayed they continued to work, usually as an aside to running their dog at the trial.

    If their dog and training was good and the dog advanced they usually stayed. If the opposite happened they usually left. Sometimes returning again and again with successive dogs over the years. Working was expected. We had monthly "fun trials," meetings, and a Christmas party. No Entry Express so even more work with the trial. Everyone worked throwing or judging. Since we were the only thing around there was a pretty steady stream of newcomers. It took a relatively small core group of people to do the work of organizing everything. We were lucky to have them. When they stopped, things pretty quickly crumbled.

    As hunt tests started there were other options for newcomers. Most people either went Hunt test or Field trial. I always figured the newer people went to the hunt tests. In watching videos and reading the posts here I see that both venues are having the same problems.

    I don't know how you get people to work. Honestly I work at our trial because there are so few of us if one falters the event would be gone. Maybe in a lot of the other clubs people can count on others doing it if they choose not to and they know things would continue.

    To attract people I think you have to get people interested in getting a dog. Success with that dog is what keeps them involved.
    Last edited by John Lash; 03-02-2014 at 10:39 AM.
    John Lash

    "If you run Field Trials, you learn to swallow your disappointment quickly."

    "Field trials are not a game for good dogs. They're for great dogs with great training." E. Graham

  3. #3
    Senior Member Breck's Avatar
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    I don't know why more clubs don't do what they do down at John Thomas's. They work with a local youth group. can't remember which one, boy scouts, rotc or whatever. Anyway, they donate x dollars to youth group who makes a weekend of the event. They have adult supervisors and camp out for the weekend right on the grounds, barbecue etc. requires no more of the kids time than putting on a weekend car wash. I guess the deal is to furnish so many bird boys each day, maybe a dozen min, fading away as Sunday wears on. The youth group also made money by selling drinks, lunch and diner at the trial.
    With at least hired throwers club workers could concentrate on live guns, marshalling and actually running their own dogs.
    Not sure amount they donate down there but maybe around $1500 covered by 20 entries and a lot of head aches go away.
    "Darla" AFC Candlewoods Lil Smokin Tequila (2002-2013)(fondly remembered)
    "Smoke" Smokin Auggies Menace, QAA (2003- )(retired nut case, ask Rando)
    "Simba" Humewood Simba (1999-2014)(my 1st dog)

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  4. #4
    Senior Member Sharon Potter's Avatar
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    The best way I've found to attract people to dog training/club membership is for them to see a well trained dog work. A pretty high percentage of the dog owning public has never seen what a retriever is capable of, and it always impresses them.
    If you can find a way to do demos, at schools, events, etc. it can really help. People see a dog that handles and they want one Heck a lot of people see a dog that is steady without being held onto and that makes them want the same thing. The public needs to see the advantages of a well trained dog.
    Sharon Potter

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  5. #5
    Senior Member Huff's Avatar
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    I don't feel paid workers are the answer to the core problem. In 10 years who will be there to hire the workers if we don't get new members now? I have chaired my clubs trials for the last four years and it is a ton of work. We try to get the new workers that show up to help a prime spot such as a flier station. The last thing we want to do is take a new volunteer and put them at a retired gun station 400 yards from the line and leave them for 8 hours. Make it fun and get them wanting to come back for more.

    I agree hunt tests seem to be getting more of the newer members due to the possible intimidation factor of trials. We should try to get more people hooked at the junior senior level to get them wanting more.

    Did a tailgate party at events help recruit new people to stay or was it more of a social event for the same guard that had been involved for a time? We tried a picnic but by the time the workers get done in the field then all the other people have pretty much left the grounds.

    Russell
    CH Chisholm Trail's Backdraft Bay MH**
    Chisholm Trail's Crossfire Sophie JH**
    "I say goodbye to my weakness, so long to the regrets"

  6. #6
    Senior Member John Lash's Avatar
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    Dog demos are good to expose people to what dogs can do. A friend and I did one at a big event and very few people were interested. We found out later in the day that everyone thought we were dog trainers looking for paying clients since the other "booths" were for that purpose.

    Our club hires paid bird boys. The actual work of the trial is doable that way. It almost takes a person dedicated to the bird boys alone. Parental supervision would be great. We've had to get them there and back home. Some of the group is old enough to drive now so that helps a lot.

    Doing the work at a trial is not much fun. If someone plants the long blind for you at their event you have to plant it for them at your event.
    John Lash

    "If you run Field Trials, you learn to swallow your disappointment quickly."

    "Field trials are not a game for good dogs. They're for great dogs with great training." E. Graham

  7. #7
    Senior Member Julie R.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sharon Potter View Post
    The best way I've found to attract people to dog training/club membership is for them to see a well trained dog work. A pretty high percentage of the dog owning public has never seen what a retriever is capable of, and it always impresses them.
    If you can find a way to do demos, at schools, events, etc. it can really help. People see a dog that handles and they want one Heck a lot of people see a dog that is steady without being held onto and that makes them want the same thing. The public needs to see the advantages of a well trained dog.
    Sadly, while many people want dogs that handle and obey the first command crisply, very few are willing to put in the work it takes just to have solid basic obedience. I put on a Field Day for the ACC every year and have been secretary of a large retriever club near metro Washington D.C. and would venture to say that for every 50 people that think, "Wow, I want a dog like that" maybe one or less are willing to do what it takes. I have always taken the position in our club that a certain percentage of new members will come to a few training sessions and work one HT, an even smaller amount will put a JH on their dogs, and maybe 1 in 100 will join the small core group of members that do all the work. For that one gem, you need to recruit 2 dozen members every year to replace the cycle of short term or JH only members who show up for a few sessions and then disappear. I don't know what the answer is, seems like it's always been that way with clubs.
    Julie R., Hope Springs Farm
    Chesapeake Bay Retrievers since 1981

  8. #8
    Senior Member Todd Caswell's Avatar
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    We have a HRC club up here that has been around for 9 years, we have around 25 members, and say 45 dogs, in the 9 years we have had 9 dogs that can run a real blind and that I would call a finished level dog, 4 of them are mine 3 of them are my training partners and 2 of them are a guy's that we picked up 3 years ago that from day one absorbed everything he could about retriever training, but the rest of them seem to be content doing singles with there dog every week, I had preached for along time that for the club to grow and maintain members , the dogs had to advance or they would loose interest, and alot of them do. But you can't force feed information or help, they have to want it, I can't tell you how many DVD's Iv'e given away that most likely were never watched, I don't do it any more I figure if people want help or direction they will ask. We do a open house every spring, basically a training day where people can watch dogs of all levels do some work, we advertise in the local paper and on the radio, and we usually have a pretty good turn out and gain a few members in the process, some have hung around and some join, attened a few training sessions never to be seen again. I think the biggest problem is people realise this is a tough game to play "part time" and when they realize that one night a week isn't going to get them a finished dog, they stay stuck in the started dog rutt and loose interest.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Breck's Avatar
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    You guys are doing it all wrong. To attract new people who will stick with it you need to hook up with local shrink and have them feed you info on people with dogs also having OCD then do a direct mailing.
    "Darla" AFC Candlewoods Lil Smokin Tequila (2002-2013)(fondly remembered)
    "Smoke" Smokin Auggies Menace, QAA (2003- )(retired nut case, ask Rando)
    "Simba" Humewood Simba (1999-2014)(my 1st dog)

    .
    Per favore, non mi rompere i coglioni.
    Grazie




  10. #10
    Senior Member Ted Shih's Avatar
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    The Rocky Mountain Retriever Club doesn't have training grounds. We don't have training days. We put on 2 field trials a year. We have about 10 active members. We have a great group of farm kids who throw birds for us each year. When the kids graduate, their younger brothers get involved. We enjoy one another's company, we all pitch in, and our trials run pretty smoothly. All of the members have dogs that are competitive at their respective level.

    We put on trials, because we have dogs that we want to run. We know that other clubs around the country do the same. Once a member no longer has a competitive dog, it is hard to stay in the game. Too much sacrifice and too many alternatives when you don't have a dog to run.

    I have been running field trials since 2000 and I have seen a lot of people come and go. I think it is because it takes a lot of dedication and sacrifice - and the rewards are mostly intangible.

    I am not belittling those who have come and gone. There are lots of times that I think that I could have spent my time and money on something more productive. It's all about choice. And I continue to play this silly little game - because I enjoy the dogs, being outside, and the competition.

    As for what makes people stay, you should ask Lainee (FOM) and her husband, David (BB Number 1). They are among the few new people that I have seen start FT and stay.

    I suspect that when all is said and done, Danny Farmer said it best: "You can't talk someone into this game. Once they're in, you can't talk them out, either."
    Competition does not build character - It reveals it.

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