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Discussion Starter #1
I had a really infuriating experience today when I went to my local club to do a drop-in for a rally class. I am absolutely LIVID!

I've been practicing with Lucky to get him started with rally, and we did a previous drop-in two weeks before that was pretty uneventful. Lucky was really wired that day, with lots of energy (which was a big contrast from the first time we tried rally about a year ago, where Lucky was very hesitant in the ring). He had a little trouble keeping his focus but I thought we did well. Everyone I spoke to was encouraging and nice. It was a really positive experience and I was looking forward to going back again this week.

So with all that in mind, I was completely blindsided by their nasty reaction today. I showed up early to get some practice in and prep in the ring before class got started and the instructor came up and basically said straight out that we weren't welcome there. According to him, Lucky didn't respond to commands quickly enough and he didn't have time to "teach us the signs." It was an exasperating hot/cold switch that came out of left field because as far as I can tell all their supposed reasons are complete BS.

This was super frustrating because a) that would have been useful to tell us last time before we drove across town in rush hour traffic again as a basic ****ing courtesy and b) it feels like they're just excuses to provide plausible deniability for whatever the real reason is. Other people in the class spoke to me after our first run last time and specifically mentioned that they were new when they started and had the same problems the first couple of times with their Golden. No one there seemed to take it all that seriously either - everyone was just hanging out in between runs and they didn't look particularly focused in the ring. I feel like dog behavior doesn't make sense as a reason either. Some behavior I observed from other dogs there:
  • One dog snapped at Lucky and tried to bite him when he walked by. None of the instructors said a word about the physically aggressive dog who seemed to be a regular class member (the owner didn't bother to apologize).
  • Other dogs that were crate-aggressive.
  • Dogs of regular class attendees who still made mistakes on the course
  • One dog's owner (the club president!) was shooing her dog away with a piece of wood (?!) while I spoke to her, and couldn't even get her three year old dog to maintain a down/stay for more than a second. Ordinarily I wouldn't give someone such a hard time for this (dog training ain't always easy) but in the context of being told about my dog's supposed behavior issues, I felt like it warranted an eye roll
I mean, Lucky isn't perfect but he's so much better than most of these dogs. He's definitely not violently aggressive, which is totally okay there I guess. It just felt like a slap in the face to be told that we're the problem when I see so many dogs in the club that are flat-out mean. It seemed like a personal attack and that hurt.

I feel like there's someone in the club that has it out for us. Ever since the end of our first class there, which was right around the time of the 2016 election and where I was commiserating with one of the other classmates, I've gotten the cold shoulder when I tried to sign up for other classes. This was the first time where I didn't. When I went to class I was still wearing the campaign t-shirt for my local congresswoman because I had just finished canvassing and went right over. Next class (today), I show up and they gave me the boot before class even starts. What kind of a class is it where you kick dogs out instead of helping to teach them to do it better? What the hell did I pay you for?? It feels like more than a coincidence at this point.

I started asking around to some trainers I know after this happened and they're all telling me that these people have a reputation and have done it to other people they know. I just heard that they told one of my trainer's students that her dog was retarded. What is wrong with these people?

On one hand, it feels good to not be alone and to know I'm not crazy, but on the other hand it still feels really hurtful to just be kicked out without warning after being told your dog isn't good enough. All the logic in the world doesn't really undo the emotional reaction in the moment.

Does anyone have suggestions for finding more informal groups that aren't stuck in these rigid cliques? This is the only "official" group in the area that I know of, but obviously I'd like to find somewhere a little more friendly.
 

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I'm sorry you had such a sh*tty experience, snow :( I have shared my experiences of how difficult it is to break into the cliques. One must have a very tough skin. I think it is a real shame these training clubs don't treat newcomers better. I felt like quitting MANY times in the beginning. I'm so happy that I am now with a great group of people, but only because I persisted through a few really negative experiences and tried to focus on my dog.

When you say Lucky was kicked out because he doesn't do the signs fast enough, I'm wondering if the trainer was saying Lucky is just not ready for this particular class yet. My trainer tells people all the time they're not ready. It's not personal, it happens to people every single new session! She suggests they take more of a rally foundations class first to learn at least all the basic signs. It is for your and the dog's benefit. You want to set them up for success.

You will encounter all of the dog/human behavior you mentioned, both at training clubs and trials. It is your responsibility to keep your dog safe from other dogs, and to keep it under control. If you keep Lucky safe and controlled, no other dogs can hurt him. You will also observe people who don't train with the same methods you do. I silently cringe every time I see a dog get a leash pop or a tap on the head, because that's certainly not the way I train, but others do.

I would ask your +R trainers for suggestions on where you could do rally just for fun.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
I don't think this was EVER about Lucky. My friend who was taking a class in another ring was totally confused as to why this happened. She said he looked like he knew the signs well enough.

During the previous class, they were supportive and told me to download the app to learn my signs. The instructor even praised Lucky for one of the signs he did correctly. People in that class were surprisingly supportive and said Lucky did well. So I don't think this has anything to do with merit or even Lucky!

ETA: Lucky is usually pretty controlled unlike most bouncy doodles you'd meet. I'm going to take him out and record an experience so people understand what I mean. The encounter I was thinking of was because the Border collie next to us had serious aggression. Then a Boston terrier (terror) lady said her dog bites and do not approach. Ok..... maybe you shouldn't bring such an aggressive dog to class
 

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I have nothing to add except that I'm sorry this is happening, snow. Definitely a slap in the face, especially after going a fair distance out of your way to attend.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Ring Trained Dogs

I'm not going to beat around the bush. The whole purpose of going to the club was for Lucky to develop better confidence in one of the most distractable environment where five classes happen at the same time. To be honest, most of the dogs that belong to members at the club are "ring trained". I have a huge problem with this because the purpose of obedience is to have a better behaved and more enjoyable dog, not to lord over your dog's title over others.

Earning these titles make them think they have the right to belittle others rather having a better mentoring attitude. Too many people get off on this. It is no longer about camaraderie and becomes rather something ugly and toxic. A lot of people make excuses and say it is like this in all niche hobbies but this simply isn't true.

Being a ring trained dog is not the same as a well behaved dog at all times. Knowing what to do in the ring does not necessarily translate to daily life. There are a few exceptions to the rule but I've seen dogs with multiple titles with poor socialization, reactive towards other dogs or people, and crazy pullers outside the ring. An owner has to actively apply what they've learned in the ring to other circumstances. I've seen very little evidence of this as people pull up to the parking lot and unload their dogs.

I am not entirely sure the club is just about training dogs as it is about socializing with the "correct" demographics: middle aged+, white, female, much? I am tired of the petty tyranny. It is a club after all and I just don't fit the mold. If I sound angry it is because I am. This experience has caused me a lot of grief and stress. I am never EVER going back to AKC club again!! It is not a meritocracy and more about profiling. If I sound mad as hell, it is because I am! These people should not have slapped me in the face in less than a week of my dog's death.

Since my grandpa died three weeks ago, things have been going downhill. I keep expecting someone throw me a bone. Clearly, that never happened and probably isn't going to. Dog training had been an outlet to tune out all the negativity in the world but even that was taken away from me. This has been a very difficult week and I just can't take it anymore.
 

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“Does anyone have suggestions for finding more informal groups that aren't stuck in these rigid cliques? This is the only "official" group in the area that I know of, but obviously I'd like to find somewhere a little more friendly.”

My AKC club is not as extreme as described but is composed of cliques based on primary training interests (obedience, rally, agility—the types of trials that are held there), and then the rest of us who participate in many dog sports! I’m at a point where my membership is for the benefit of access to the building and equipment. I haven’t taken a class there in over a year. While there are some ‘good’ instructors, they don’t always teach, or teach a class that I’m interested in, or teach on a night that I can attend. Harsh training methods are used by some of the long-time members/trainers, though the club’s constitution was changed recently to address that.

Sooo, what do I do? I meet a group of like-minded dog owners every Monday morning to train agility together. I meet other member friends ad hoc to practice discrete activities, for example, to set up a rally course in prep for a trial. I take agility classes from another local trainer (this training organization was created by two people who are members of the AKC club; there is a sustained demand for their classes at a nicer facility, yet they’re resented by some of the AKC club members, and the ill feelings spread to those of us who take classes there). I took a CGC class from a local trainer because my club’s class is lacking, and also puppy class from the local Humane Society educator which was better as well. I also take nosework lessons from an instructor about an hour away. And I’ve taken barn hunt classes an hour and a half away. Both of these are held at small sites, not a formal training club, but the instructors are experienced (are also judges in their sports) and supportive. I never thought that I would make such an effort when I began training my dogs (~18 years ago); it happened gradually as I learned about different opportunities through other dog owners. We travel a lot to trial because my club chooses to not host many dog sports or other performance venues (UKC, WCRL), though at times in the past they have, because “it just won’t be supported by the members.”

We are an aging club and badly need new younger members to be sustained. I’ve chosen to distance myself from the cliques and politics of the club because life is short. The reason that I’m a member is to spend time with my dogs having fun and enriching our lives. Their enthusiasm for any trip in the car (most of which end at a training or trial site) tells me that I’m succeeding.

I honestly can’t remember how I fell into the Monday morning agility training group. I’m the least experienced of the group and am glad that I stuck it out. Now I initiate conversations with the ‘nice’ club members about training together. The latest effort is to fall in with others who have experience in training tracking. More club members are interested in a range of activities and are self-organizing. Our club did sponsor some nosework seminars a few years ago — I believe that it was successful in generating interest, though we haven’t hosted any trials.

Finding a group of friendly members to train with makes the rest of the club members’ antics fade into the background. I’ve met former club members who chose to leave, however, I prefer to maintain access to the club building, which is available for members’ use outside of classes and trials. The club is like many other situations in life. There will always be negative people but I choose to find the positive ones and make the most of the opportunities. I hope that you can find some individual members that break the mold of the cliques.

BTW, I work full time, which also involves some travel, so making time for training isn’t easy. It’s also not easy to connect with other working people to train together (even some retirees!). But it has become easier over time as relationships developed. Some of my club members would still be strangers to me if I didn’t meet them training at other venues.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Scooter, I have do believe you are correct. There definitely are pockets of people who are kind. I just don’t think they are part of this club. Had I known how awful they’d treated me, I probably would never have signed up for AKC canine partners. Im not sure there are any clubs but perhaps training groups in the city. I am surely not the first one to be pissed off. There is no need for the open hostility and to insult my dog on the way out when his dog is so poorly behaved that it can’t stop barking during the entire rally run thru class that he overseas.

Also, I showed up early to practice the rally signs. For him to kick us out of the class before even the ring was set up was horribly disrespectful. There was plenty of other ways to have addressed the situation without being open vicious and condescending. And if I am so horribly inconvenient, you could have perhaps told me the last time before I came to your class instead of praises at the end of class. He is a miserable excuse for a human being who enjoys to holding petty power over others. Does that not sound like every someone at every akc training club?

I’m going to write the President an email in which I doubt there would be a satisfying outcome. The purpose is to be heard and hopefully they comprehend that they need to treat future people with decency. This woman overheard the entire conversation and tried to soften the blow so I’d hope she actually cares about the reputation of the club.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I’m going to write the President an email in which I doubt there would be a satisfying outcome.


Nope, not going to write an email to self-righteous people who are full of themselves. What a waste of time that would be! I will, however, leave a review of my experience so future participant will be warned.

As this instructor asked me to leave this class before it started, I thanked him out of reflex. I was raised in by my parents to respect your elders but ageism goes both ways! It is quite sad that most of these people have too much time on their hands and no power outside of this club.
 

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Well our perceptions are our reality and I am not going to say that things happened that weren't really inappropriate, but as a person who teaches at a club and trains at quite a number of facilities with all sorts of people who have all sorts of dogs I just have never had that kind of experience. AKC sanctioned clubs have to prove themselves to the AKC to maintain their standing through maintaining an active membership, offering trials and matches and often doing community service because many of them are 501 (c)(3) organizations. If this is an AKC sanctioned club it is hard to see that the members are universally so unwelcoming (and worse). If it is not an AKC sanctioned club then if they are really so awful I would think they would go out of business.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Well our perceptions are our reality and I am not going to say that things happened that weren't really inappropriate, but as a person who teaches at a club and trains at quite a number of facilities with all sorts of people who have all sorts of dogs I just have never had that kind of experience. AKC sanctioned clubs have to prove themselves to the AKC to maintain their standing through maintaining an active membership, offering trials and matches and often doing community service because many of them are 501 (c)(3) organizations. If this is an AKC sanctioned club it is hard to see that the members are universally so unwelcoming (and worse). If it is not an AKC sanctioned club then if they are really so awful I would think they would go out of business.


They are the only game in town for AKC Catherine so yes it would attract people exactly like them. For this reason alone , they’d never run out of worshippers. You’d have to drive an 1.5 for the next nearest club. My private trainer have warned me multiple time against training there due to all the horror stories her clients have told her. She especially warned against training Lucky who is a poodle mix there. This trainer is not the first one to say this and probably won’t be the last.
 

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Lots of AKC obedience clubs struggle to maintain memberships since so many people only want to do "fun stuff" like agility. I have never been to a place where members worshiped bad trainers or noxious people. There have been a few times where I felt a bit like an outsider, but I also know that when I was feeling that way I was the new person in a group of people who had known each other for perhaps as long as 25 years. When I have been persistent and sincere and showed a serious interest, they have always welcomed me. I routinely train with people who have won at Westminster Obedience and placed highly at the NOC. Nobody is mean or dismissive. I hate to say this, but if I had been warned repeatedly about how nasty the people at a place were then I would probably have arrived with a defensive attitude, but then again I wouldn't have gone to a place like that at all. We all have decisions to make and we all carry preconceptions with us about all sorts of things. snow you seem to have made your mind up about this group of people. I would just move on at this point if for no other reason than feeling toxic about it isn't good for you and won't change them. If they are as insensitive and noxious as you experienced them to be they don't even know the offended you.



You don't need a training facility to become successful at rally. You need an app or a book with the signs and rules and you train on your own. Lily is entirely self trained in rally with the exception of one class we went to for six weeks when she was two. I mostly went for the purpose of supporting my club.
 
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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
No these people at the training club have no idea what I've gone through recently and Lucky has been off because of recent events. I've been so focused on training lately to escape the chaos in the world. I feel many of us can relate to this. For me, it has been the case since 2016.

The reason why I feel slighted is because this came out of nowhere because during the last session, the instructor was complimentary of Lucky's performance. They were inclusive and told me about the app so I have no idea where this comes from. I skipped one week of class because my dog died so them ejecting us from class was completely out of the left field. The way the rally instructor talked to me made another volunteer nearby feel so uncomfortable, she kept on reassuring about about joining foundations class. She said her dog is three years old and still not ready to compete. I told her I was denied from that class because the gatekeeper had said rally has no use for service training. The consensuses in the SD community is that rally builds confidence, maneuverability for public access, and helps create a better relationship between you and your dog.
 

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I understand you are upset about Happy, and I too am not happy about the state of the world, but there is little point in trying to hold other people account for your experiences and feelings when they know nothing about you or them. I think it is also counterproductive and frankly damaging to oneself to walk around feeling upset about the state of the world all the time. If we all work to make our part of it better then it will become better.

Hazing? Seriously, never seen it, never done it, never heard of it...


Sorry, I am out at this point.
 
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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
I'm sorry you are offended by my thread. Let's get real, AKC club's hazing is common knowledge. I suspect it is because of what they know and had me pegged is the reason they had me ejected. If the response from the previous rally class had not been so positive, I would have NEVER returned.

I had accidentally disclosing my involvement in the Clinton campaign in 2016 to the pet tricks instructor (who is also the gatekeeper) had landed me in this position. No I wasn't wearing a loud and proud Hilary shirt. I had a private conversation with an assistant that was clearly overheard. Things have never been so politically contentious since 2016, the rally instructor had me pegged before I set foot in the ring. Practicing rally with a friendlier group nearby might not be a bad idea at all. I sure got a lot of stink eye after that or perhaps some of these people are pf members.

I actually really liked my agility instructor, who has a separate club that is really far away. ODTC does not offer agility so I've trained at other clubs before, where the atmosphere felt a lot friendlier. It is good to know there are friendly AKC clubs just not this one.
 

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Ok I felt bad y ou were treated poorly but to make it political is beyond my comprehension. While I did not vote for Hillary as I don't like her I wouldn't put you down or anyone else for supporting her. And I live in a mostly republican state and not one of my acquaintances put anyone down for their political beliefs. You can't bring politics into daily life. This is whats wrong with the world today. Like it or not we made a vote in 2016 and now we live with it, just as we did 8 years ago and for years before that. We all need to repeat each others beliefs and when voted on support them until the next election. Then we get a vote again.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Ok I felt bad y ou were treated poorly but to make it political is beyond my comprehension. While I did not vote for Hillary as I don't like her I wouldn't put you down or anyone else for supporting her. And I live in a mostly republican state and not one of my acquaintances put anyone down for their political beliefs. You can't bring politics into daily life. This is whats wrong with the world today. Like it or not we made a vote in 2016 and now we live with it, just as we did 8 years ago and for years before that. We all need to repeat each others beliefs and when voted on support them until the next election. Then we get a vote again.
I went to rally that yesterday to get away from politics because it is getting ugly. I couldn't for the life of me figure out why they had treated me this way until my friend brought up my political involvement and how it seems common knowledge. I trained there during the 2016 presidential election from Oct-Nov. I canvassed for Hilary. The stink eye I got from these people thereafter were unwarranted. Perhaps it matters less if you are in a solid red district but the people who come to train are from the surrounding red districts. I live in solid purple.
 

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Snow I'm very sorry you are feeling hurt, and I know from my own experience with my local CKC that they can be difficult. I was active for a year (I wanted to give it a year) and then decided it just wasn't worth it to me. I worked hard volunteering, attending meetings and participating in events and enjoyed a few members, but decided it wasn't for me. It certainly sounds like the instructor was rude and her comments unwarranted, but I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that it had anything to do with your political views. One thing I try to remember if someone is abrupt or hurts my feelings, is that they might also be going through a tough time in their lives too.
 

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Snow
I respect your feelings though I don't agree that it has anything to do with your political beliefs. Your talking two years ago, for a month. Who really has the time to worry about someones politics when your into dog training. I can also tell you I was a democrat, no more for me I don't like whats happening so I will be Independent. While we all have our own ideas in politics we can't let that determine who we are as individuals to one another in daily life. Free yourself, enjoy you dogs leave your politics at home. Again I'm sorry you feel you were treated poorly b ut I believe there was another reason perhaps Lucky just wasn't ready for this particular class. I truly hope you find a class y ou will enjoy and until then enjoy Lucky. Life changes everyday.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Snow I'm very sorry you are feeling hurt, and I know from my own experience with my local CKC that they can be difficult. I was active for a year (I wanted to give it a year) and then decided it just wasn't worth it to me. I worked hard volunteering, attending meetings and participating in events and enjoyed a few members, but decided it wasn't for me. It certainly sounds like the instructor was rude and her comments unwarranted, but I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that it had anything to do with your political views. One thing I try to remember if someone is abrupt or hurts my feelings, is that they might also be going through a tough time in their lives too.
Thank you Caddy. This is a really compassionate post. I had not considered it this way. When I first met the instructor, I felt really bad because he is in a motorized wheelchair. My tendon/ foot problems landed me on a wheelchair on and off this year so I really empathized. During Tricks class in 2016, I got a lot of stink eye and came home crying frequently. My husband said he was relieved the rally thing happened so I didn't have to come back feeling awful all the time. It isn't worth my time to pay to feel awful and this has consistently been the situation.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
. Life changes everyday.
This is good advice and I'm not sure how to get there. I've had a string of bad luck that I can't escape. In the past four weeks, the following sequence of events happened:
1. Grandpa dies during my parent's vacation in Co/Alaska/BC, Canada (which my parents says is the most beautiful place on earth). This sent my dad to china on short notice and he came back with a blockage on his foot due to the frequent flying. He had to fly from Faribanks, Alaska to Florida and then to Beijing and then back to FL all within one week.
2. Subsequently, there was a lot of family drama following the death of the patriarch. Intrafamily drama is something I would never touch with a ten foot pole. Nothing worse than resentment from a loved one.
3. Trump's regulations sent people in my workplace into chaos. There has been lots of damage control but I was proactive and stayed optimistic. I've been working late hours brokering deals until Happy passed away.
4. Kavanaugh Ford outrage--yes this was a big deal because it stirred up a lot of past trauma.
5. Happy dies during routine dental. Surprise!
6. Banished from Rally. Surprise!

I can't take anymore surprises to be honest. I'm so confused about what I'm sad about all the time because there has been bad news nonstop. :afraid::afraid::afraid:
 
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