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What classes are right for me?

Posted in FDSA

What classes are right for me?

Online learning is a very new concept for many of us, so it's common for people to have lots of questions about how to get started in this unique approach to canine education. The most frequently asked questions tend to be technical in nature, which is why we've written a thorough FAQ section. But another equally important set of questions has to do with each team's personal needs, and finding the classes that fit those circumstances. If you're not sure where to start, read on! This page will help you narrow down the offerings.  and always....feel free to contact Denise directly.  Maybe you've narrowed it down to one or two classes or maybe you're simply overwhelmed and have no idea where to start.  In either case, you can simply ask for some personal assistance.  Denise can be contacted through her bio page on the 'instructor' link.

Since the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy is set up similar to a university, it may be helpful to think about your class selection in the same way. In the next sections, we'll discuss the various levels you might be at right now, and how to choose a class that suits those needs. 

Freshman Orientation: Before You Get Your Puppy or New Dog

When you get a new performance puppy, the ideal situation is to start your education before he ever comes home. If you take a class on learning theory and a class on understanding dog body language, you'll be well ahead of the curve! Then, when your puppy arrives, you can take our puppy class to get your new performance dog off to the right start. Both Understanding dog body language and puppy class are self-study, so you can begin at any time!

General Education: Foundation Skills for All Sports

Next, take a look at your dog's current skill set, if any. In general, all dog sports require that your dog be able to do six things. These six skill areas are listed below:

  1. Want to work: If your dog isn't interested in playing your games, then you'll struggle.  Look for classes on play, engagement, and focus!
  2. Demonstrate self-control: Look for a class on developing impulse control or even one designed to create a good canine citizen!  
  3. Be able to function in public.
  4. Perform specific skills with focus and engagement.
  5. Work without classic reinforcers in preparation for trial (late skill)
  6. Feel confident and happy in the trial atmosphere.

The order in which you tackle the various skills doesn't matter too much, so pick what catches your interest and go from there. If you see a class that would help you in one of these areas, go for it!

Choosing a Major: Skills for Your Sport!

Once you have some understanding of these basics, you'll want to look carefully at the skills required for your specific sport! If you hover over the "Schools" tab in the top menu, you can choose the sport you're most interested in, whether that's Obedience or Rally or Agility - or one of our many other offerings!

Many of these classes can be taken simultaneously with our general ed or foundation classes, but you should always read the description carefully and check the prerequisites tab on a specific course to make sure the class will be appropriate for you. If you're still not sure, feel free to contact the instructor for that class through our "Instructors" tab up top (or click here). 

Special Circumstances

If you've gotten this far and you're still not sure what is right for you, that's okay! We can help! Some students come to FDSA with a dog who has some holes in their training, or who has been trained with a blend of compulsive and motivational methods. In these cases, the route is less clear and indeed, it is the most common scenario!

Prioritize what your dog needs. If your dog cannot perform with close-to-perfect accuracy in a familiar training area, take a skill building class. You might also consider simply starting over. Throw away what you have and give you and your dog a fresh start.  It’s very difficult to build a career on a shaky foundation. Indeed, a high percentage of our students have told us that after taking one or two classes, they realized how shaky their foundation skills were. That's fine. Training is not a race - just go back and set that foundation.

Still not sure? Contact Denise directly through our "Instructors" tab up top (or click here).  Denise welcomes those e-mails so if you need help, then simply ask!  It's always ok to explain your situation and what you're looking for.  She can look over the entire schedule and get you on your way.

Planning Your Route

Not all classes are offered each session, although we do try to post our upcoming class schedule in advance so that you can prepare a route that makes sense for you and your dog. Popular classes are typically offered at least twice a year, depending on instructor availability. In addition, leaving your primary school of interest and taking a beginning course from another school might really make sense. 

Above all, remember that training is not a race. If you take classes for a while before competing, then you will go into your first events with a positive attitude and the sureness that comes with knowing that your dog is absolutely prepared to be there. Sometimes you just have to jump in - being exactly right isn't as important as making a commitment to start the journey - you'll find the way once you're on the road!