FE238: Structure and Movement

Instructor: Sue Ailsby

Course Details

What's in there anyway? Little wheels? Why is one dog graceful and another one clumsy? What's a fiddle front and why should you care? Will that puppy grow out of those cow hocks? Why DOES that dog walk sideways all the time? And why do little injuries always seem to happen on the front end?

Most dog sports people don't think of the structure of a dog at all - either when they're picking out the dog that's going to be living and working with them for the next 10 to 15 years, or when they're picking what sports are reasonable for that dog to play in. "Oh," they think, "that's for those dog show people!"

That's too bad. Structure affects movement, and movement affects everything your dog does every day, let alone the sports you want to play with her. Structure affects how much muscle she'll build, how fast she'll be, what tight turns she'll be able to make, and her risk of injury.

Come join us on an adventure into the structure of our canine companions! 

NOTE:  If you're afraid we're going to be criticizing your Gold dog in front of everybody - it's not about criticizing at ALL. It's about learning the particular dog's strengths and weaknesses so you can make reasonable decisions about what sports to safely play, what sorts of exercises might help strengthen a weak point (exercises are Debbie Gross's department, though, not mine!), and what to look for in your next pup. My own dogs will be right up there showing off their goods and bads, so don't be shy!


Next session starts: June 1, 2017
Registration starts: May 22, 2017
Registration ends: June 15, 2017

Registration begins at 10:00am PDT.

Enrollment limits: Gold: 15 students, Silver: 25 students, Bronze: unlimited. If you are interested in bronze level, you can sign up any time during the registration period.


WEEK ONE: Getting under the skin

- Long Bones, The Head, Spine, Cables & Pulleys, Feet  - what they are and what they do.

WEEK TWO: Rears from the back

- how they're built, how they move, and what can go wrong.

WEEK THREE: Fronts from the front

- how they're built, how they move, and what can go wrong.

WEEK FOUR: Rears from the side

- yep, how they're built, how they move, and what can go wrong.

WEEK FIVE: Fronts from the side

- how they're built, how they move, and what can go wrong.

WEEK SIX: Back Bone's connected to the Front Bone...

- what happens when you expect it all to play nicely together.


Please note that, for an in-depth look at muscles, I recommend Debbie Gross' classes here at Fenzi.


Prerequisites and Equipment


You're welcome to take this class without a dog, but having your own hands-on model of the lectures and videos will definitely make things clearer for you. If you have a choice of dogs, pick the one that's easiest to handle, as there will be a fair amount of poking and prodding going on during the class. Of course, you can also use your handy local llama, horse, sheep, or goat. Birds won't help you much.



Treats to reward the poke-and-proddee are not out of the question.

A videocamera of some variety - a dedicated camera, a tablet, a smartphone. I recommend you videotape (or whatever the digital equivalent is) your own dog as you learn. Video gives your eyes a second, third, fourth opportunity to compare the real world to what you're seeing in class videos.

Space to walk and trot your dog in a straight line - an aisle or hallway at least 15 feet (5 metres) long, or an equivalent space outside.

Paper and pen.


Course Testimonials


I thinkThis course was amazing. I learned loads and Sue Ailsby is a wonderful teacher. I had taken other courses and read books about structure in the past but I learned so much more. A wonderful experience! My only regret was that with so much info (and the holidays in between) time really flew, I wished the course was longer! (Serena M)    

Sue has such in-depth knowledge and a magical way of sharing it so that we can begin to see structure and movement through her eyes. So many tools to take away. I'll never look at any dog (or llama) in the same way again                   

The structure and movement course was an excellent companion course to the canine fitness courses I am taking. Really enjoyed the content, the way the course has been presented and the tempo. Very nice!             

I find myself evaluating all dogs I see regarding their structure. I learned so much and it was nice to see the Silver and Gold members posts to help in the learning process. I will take more classes in the future. Pam E.         

Words cannot express how helpful I find Sue's marked-up video stills and drawn-on pictures -- I'm sure they must take a while to do, but SO. INCREDIBLY. HELPFUL.        

I thought it was just wonderful! Exceeded my expectations :)        

Sue Ailsby is amazing and she is so funny - her humour and writing talent really helped me understand the lectures and piqued my interest, whereas I would normally fall asleep with such technical subjects! This was my first class with Sue and it has convinced me that I need to take more of her classes - she really knows how to keep students engaged!              

Sue has a wealth of knowledge in dog anatomy, and has great ways of communicating information to her students.  I have learned SO MUCH! - Helen S.    

Sue's knowledge of structure and movement is extraordinary. There was SO MUCH information presented and the discussion forums were fantastic. Sue made the information accessible and applicable.