Wednesday, April 27, 2011

USDAA survey

You know the recession is bad when USDAA wants competitors' opinions. I was surprised but pleased to receive a survey from them in my email. I know entry to USDAA trials around here has plummeted, in some cases entries are down by around 50% and trials are going from 2 rings back down to one. Part of this is due to the economy and people not traveling from out of state but I know a good number of people who are jaded with the organization for one reason or another and have decided to spend their shrinking/vanishing paychecks in other places, including myself. I used to attend every USDAA trial within 2 1/4 hours and maybe drive out of state once a year. But last year I only attended 4 USDAA trials and for 3 of those trials I only went 1 day. This year I have 5 on my schedule but I'm considering canceling at least one of them and I limit the amount of classes/days that I enter. Regionals are a 50 minute or so drive and I'm not going this year, mostly because they're not offering titling classes and I have no plans to go to Nationals. Those tournament classes at Regionals cost a fortune, even more so than a regular trial, and since I'm still trying to resolve Strum's height class he would have to be in Performance. It's not worth the money and time/effort to me to run him in Performance tournaments.

Anyway, I can't figure out how to post a link to the survey directly. I think the link they sent in the email only works for one survey which makes sense. But if anyone is interested in voicing an opinion to USDAA then maybe you can try emailing the office at and asking for a survey. I know I had plenty to say. Not sure what they'll do with it but at least they're asking which is a positive move.


  1. Elayne, they posted this link on their facebook page -
    so probably that could be used by anyone.

    Why do you think people have stopped coming to USDAA other than the economy? I know our DOCNA entries are really low so far, barely 200 runs over two days, which puts it in danger of being canceled. It seems like every AKC trial they put out there sells out, so people are still spending, but why would AKC draw so many over USDAA, DOCNA or NADAC?

  2. People have told me they've stopped or cut down on USDAA because of jump heights/they don't want to run in Performance, the competitiveness of the other people there spoils the atmosphere for them, they don't like having to beat other people for Super Q's and Steeplechase to get their CH title, they've had some bureaucratic difficulty in dealing with USDAA, equipment standards though with recent changes that reason shouldn't be too valid anymore (though the A-frame is still too high in my opinion).

    FRAC and FRAT's indoor DOCNA trials sell out, I'm not sure about FRAT's outdoor trial but if it doesn't sell out it could be due to time of year and being outside. There are so many trials in May which may have something to do with why your trial doesn't fill. And to add insult to injury there's an AKC trial that weekend (as if we don't have enough already) and I know at least one person with 2 dogs who went to your DOCNA last year who's going to that instead if they get in.

    The lack of popularity for NADAC is obvious-capricious and frequent rule changes being the biggest reason but the Chances class, boring Standard/Jumpers classes and weird equipment (hoops, no teeter) are other reasons. NADAC has turned into a niche venue I think.

    AKC is popular for a number of reasons but probably the main one is that, let's face it, it's not that hard for someone with a slower dog and a lot of time/money on their hands to get a MACH. People who are breeders can put a MACH on a dog and sell their lines as sport lines. And that's the whole purpose of the AKC, to sell purebred dogs.

    The other main reason is that there are so many trials available that it makes it easier to try for the MACH than the ADCH or MEX or NATCH. People are obsessed with titles and they'd rather work on a MACH than try a venue where they have fewer trials and thus fewer chances to Q. AKC trials are mostly indoors and a lot of people don't want to deal with the outdoors. Lots of people actually like and respect the AKC and a title from them has prestige in their minds. They may be involved with breed clubs and other performance activities and agility is just one more title to chase but not to the point of entering other venues. So many people do only AKC. I don't get it but different strokes I guess.

  3. Oh I totally cackled when this survey showed up in my inbox :) My beef is mostly about jump heights and worrying about breaking my older dogs. In any event it will be interesting to see if they listen to anything people say!

  4. I answered the survey and cited many of the reasons you mention as to how they could improve. I don't trial outside any more after dealing with frost/snow on contacts and extremely deep mud in an April trial several years ago. I'd rather spend my money elsewhere on an indoor trial where I can get to run, regardless of weather. I do a lot of AKC, more than I would like, because trials are held so frequently. I can actually plan out a trial schedule where I don't have to drive 5-8 hours to get to an event. I enjoy USDAA course challenges in general and like the competition, although in my height class unless you have a BC it's extremely difficult to place in Steeplechase, which can be a downer. I still participate anyway. We are a gamble's leg away from Emma's MAD right now, and distance work isn't our strong suit. I plan to work some on that this summer.

  5. I like being outside but it is a risk and it's a lot of money and time on the line if you had a long drive and have to pay for a hotel room. Most of the time it's not too bad around here, high winds and thunder/lightening are problems sometimes though and one year we had about 4" of snow on the ground in May (it melted by afternoon though).

    It would be great if they changed their jump heights and that's one of my main issues as well but I'm not holding my breath on that one. On the other hand I never thought they'd lower the A-frame or that AKC would allow mixed breeds so I guess there's hope.

  6. When I filled out the survey jump heights was what I listed as a problem in USDAA. I never thought about it before I had a small dog. I started paying attention to the competition in the 16" class - there is none! Too many folks with dogs who jump 16" in AKC would have to jump 22" in USDAA so they don't enter USDAA trials. I wish USDAA would market for the smaller dog but they don't seem to care. Interesting that at the average AKC trial the 12 and 16 inch class is huge (average of 72 dogs) and in USDAA, you would be lucky to see 7 dogs in both heights combined.

    Jump height cut offs are the main reason why AKC trials fill and USDAA trials don't.

  7. The 12" class is even more non-existent. I'm on my second 26" cusp dog so I've been aware of the jump height issue from the start. I had a post here with some jump height/breed statistics from a local trial. USDAA is no friend to the big or small dog. It's become a niche market for shelties and BC's that measure into the 22" or 16" classes.

  8. I listed jump ht. as my biggest complaint with USDAA on the survey. I like USDAA alot but I have my dog in performance beause I dont want her jumping 16 inches. If it were 14, I'd be ok with that. We dont have a lot of trials here in South Carolina so we travel every where. I know our AKC trial filled last year but not this year. I think there are a lot more AKC trials around. So people who came from different states, didnt need to to that this year.

  9. All this is encouraging, I'm glad other people are speaking out. Maybe they will listen. Or maybe their bottom line will force them to listen.

  10. Thanks for the clicky link! I was too lazy to do it.

  11. I agree and also listed jump heights as a reason. I've also seen others complain about the size of the small dog classes. Griffin was in 22" performance, and Emma measures into 22" Ch (got really lucky with her). I agree, it has become a niche market for shelties and BCs that measure into those heights, which is really sad for a venue that accepts mix breeds/all dogs. While that may be true, the jumps heights 'discriminate' in a different way.

  12. I think the survey is probably one of Andy's ideas since in all the time Ken has been running the show, we have *never* been asked our opinion on anything :-)

    I love USDAA but have been doing mostly AKC for a couple of years now because there areso few 12" dogs in USDAA and I enjoy the cameraderie of the other "little" dogs which I don't get at most local USDAA trials.

    I also like that AKC has a much wider variety of dogs and people,(USDAA seems to appeal mostly to BC owners)and a more laid back atmosphere since there are only a few runs a day rather than the 8 or so offered at a typical USDAA trial.

    And even though you don't get as many runs for your $ with AKC, USDAA still ain't cheap--especially those tournament classes.

    Still, I will probably continue to enter USDAA trials every once in awhile just because they're so much more fun than AKC trials.

    I haven't played UKI yet but I'm hoping that will be like USDAA was several years ago before it got to be such a BC-centric venue.

  13. Anonymous10:45 PM

    I know this is a bit late, but I keep getting told USDAA will not be changing their jump heights.

    I am one of those people who only shows in AKC as of now. Why? Because USDAA told me my 16.5" Sheltie should jump 22" as quoted from their website "Time has proven that these jump heights provide both a fair and safe competitive environment when a dog is trained properly."

    Not my cup of tea.