Recruiting new helpers, how to? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-25-2012, 08:51 AM Thread Starter
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Recruiting new helpers, how to?

So after 18 years in clubs there is one thing that never changes, the problem of finding helpers. My husband began doing helper work in the early 80's and has been active for all but a couple years (when our daughter was born and we started our business). He has been training director at 3 clubs over years and I have been an officer of some capacity, currently club president. Being a helper can be a pretty thankless task, depending on the club. And keeping helpers can be difficult to say the least. My husband has trained so many helpers over the years and most of them end up moving on and starting their own club or start training professionally at a given point. But this is just a fact of life and no one is trying to be malicious, it just is. Of course as TD and president, the task of finding and training helpers usually falls to us. The club members don't really pick up on the fact that we spend time outside of club practices working with the new guys, and whose dogs do they think get used in teaching?
Right now, the 2 main guys we've been working with for the past 3 years are flaking out. One has started his own Cross Fit gym and can only come to one practice a week now (sometimes not even that) and the other guy just became a father and is having to curb his social life (understandable), plus he hurt his shoulder and is having to lay out for at least a month, grrrr. This always seems to happen just when they get to the point that they can really catch a dog and can read what needs to be done to further training.
So here we sit with at least 3 members ready to trial a dog this fall and can't get regular work done, sigh. I'm not mad at the helpers by any means, I know that for them this is not their career and that life takes precedence.
Let me say that at our club, we treat the helpers very well (as we should!). Their dogs always get a crate in the clubhouse (which is heated/air conditioned), a club member is always assigned the task of getting equipment on the field and put away at the end of practice, another club member is in charge of keeping cold water or gatorade on hand for the helpers, the helpers never have to participate in the clubhouse clean up, someone else always gets their dog ready to work etc. Of course the club pays their fees for any helper seminars they can attend, etc.
So what do others do to attract and train new helpers?
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-25-2012, 09:08 AM
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Annette,
We are in the same situation.....it really IS a problem.

Huerta Hof German Shepherds

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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-25-2012, 09:08 AM
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Same with our club..There is a serious shortage!!

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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-25-2012, 09:17 AM
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Our club is down to two helpers, 59,62 years old. It is what it is.
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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-25-2012, 09:53 AM
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I think our helper got into it initially so that training could serve as his cardio workout for the day. Plus he loves dogs and is a great guy. He is an athlete and body building enthusiast so it worked out really well.

Perhaps you could try recruiting at gyms, dojos and the like. You could try to entice them with a free and unique workout

Ash
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-25-2012, 10:21 AM
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Wow! I want to come to your club. Our helpers get treated well, but not that well. I am the first one on the field and the last one to leave. Helpers are the ones that have to set everything up and break it down. It gets old after a while.

I understand the helpers flaking being irritating part. We have been trying to train three times a week, and for the last two weeks I have been the only helper. Don't get me wrong I love working the dogs but it's starting to wear me out.

I started doing helper work because I wanted to learn every aspect of the dogs. Not just what I see as a handler but the other side as well. That has made me a better handler. I'm not sure how to recruite them, as I just threw myself in.
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-25-2012, 12:35 PM
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Same thing here. Gabor is the president, training director and helper for our club. He has to travel for helper work for his dogs, as there are no good helpers in our area for a few hours…

One problem is desire to be a helper does not equate to being a good helper, at any level. They have to be in shape, stay in shape/flexibility, be able to move fluidly, in addition to listening, learning the ability to read dogs, etc. That means continued physical focus during the week. There are so many “weekend helpers”, that they end up winded and/or injured a lot. One of the best videos of working out to be able to do helper work is by Marcus Hampton. Footwork, speed, stretching, strength training.

And yes, you have the people that will learn the very basics, go to a seminar (and that gets extrapolated into training with “X”), work dogs for a bit and then go off and become pseudo sport/k9 trainers that charge for helper work on dogs that they do not know how to title…..

The other problem is time. Most have normal full time jobs, families and other activities. To be able to be a good helper, beside stay in shape, is learn and work dogs, watch and ask questions, go to other clubs and watch the work, work dogs, LEARN, work more dogs…..


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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-25-2012, 01:06 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Smithie86 View Post
[FONT=Calibri][SIZE=3][FONT=Calibri] He has to travel for helper work for his dogs, as there are no good helpers in our
Yeah, that's a big issue for us. My husband and his dogs go through regular phases where they don't get to work. There has been many a practice where he has caught every dog and sometimes the other members didn't even notice that his dogs didn't get worked! A few times when other helpers haven't shown up I've made a presidential decision that we are all going to just work on obedience or tracking and just skip protection. When members have gotten huffy about it I've told them that if one of them wants to catch his dogs then everyone gets to do protection. Needless to say the attitude changed and they all got it and now make a huge effort to thank any and all helpers at the end of EVERY practice. (this was a few years back, not our current members who have all been schooled by me on the sacrifices their helpers are making!)
There are a number of good helpers at other clubs around here, and we all have reciprocal training agreements to go work at other clubs, but we just can't take the time with any regularity. We do boarding/daycare as part of our business, and being gone for 6-8 hours (drive time to any other club is a minimum of 1.5 hours, most are 2+) is just not an option.

We just started 2 new guys in the past couple months. Oddly enough one of them is my son's best friend from childhood. We've known him since he was in second grade . My son called me back in spring and mentioned that this friend has been bugging him about dog training. I didn't really respond since usually when people see the commitment schutzhund requires they disappear. This guy (now 21) contacted me on fb so I told him to come out. He did and was hooked (thank goodness because prior to seeing schutzhund he was looking into agility LOL). His very first catch was impressive, and my husband made him do it again just to see if it was a fluke. Thankfully it wasn't and he got psyched and started reading and watching everything about schutzhund he could find. Then a few weeks ago he mentions how his younger brother (age 19) has been wanting a dog and is looking at Vizslas. He didn't want to live with a Vizsla (they live together) so brought him out to watch Schutzhund. Little brother couldn't stand big brother having all the fun so he asked to learn as well. Yesterday was his second practice and he's apparently got a good natural ability as well. But, they are both college students who will start back in fall so will obviously lose the free time they have now, so there is that .
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-25-2012, 01:43 PM
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We just do our best to put a sleeve on any one that joins the club to see if it might interest them. Then we push the ones that show potential. We have two helpers right now (45 and 48) and one guy that shows a lot of physical ability (early 30's). The latter just needs to have more time. We have another guy that does a little stuff, but he just doesn't have the physical ability nor the presence to do much except a few things.

When you have them you must treat them well to keep them and then also hope that they don't get the big heads and dreams of making money and later leave.

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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-25-2012, 06:45 PM
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I think one of the problems is more women seem to be handling dogs than men(at least in the clubs I've gone to) And few are willing or have the physical being to do helperwork.
My last training group was 2 men~ 7 or 8 women and one of the guys had a broken body, could hardly even track w/ his dog. Our helper burned out, his career became very demanding(first priority after his family!) and our group disbanded.

I feel bad for the helpers who bust their butts working dog after dog, and their own training program suffers because of it. They have to go elsewhere to get their dogs worked which takes more time out of their already busy schedule.
And many of them are getting old, the body doesn't have the stamina it use to.

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