Next session starts: February 1, 2019Registration starts: January 22, 2019Registration ends: February 15, 2019
Registration will begin at 10:00 AM Pacific Time.
Enrollment limits: Gold: 12 students, Silver: 25 students, Bronze: unlimited.
Gold Level includes access to all course materials and the ability to post questions and videos to the course forums. Students will receive instructor feedback on written and video assignments.
Silver Level includes access to all course materials and the ability to participate in the discussion forum. Students may ask GENERAL questions about course materials and may submit two, one-minute videos for instructor feedback. Any questions specific to your dog MUST be accompanied by a video.
Bronze Level includes access to all course materials and the ability to read all questions and answers posted in the class forums. Students will not post questions or submit written or video assignments.
For more details, refund policies, and answers to commonly asked questions see our FAQ page.
Not sure which class to take first here at Fenzi Academy? Well, this one is a great place to start!
This class is all about the foundation concepts and skills that will help you succeed on your training journey. This course is a perfect start for your new puppy or for an older dog who needs to build strong foundation skills with positive reinforcement training.
Excellent training using positive and force-free methods requires an understanding of certain key concepts, which is why the lectures will cover the proper use of markers and reinforcers, when and how to add cues, how to change criteria, and using reinforcement schedules. Excellent training also requires the skillful execution of techniques to get behaviors to happen (shaping, luring, targeting), to manipulate and change how behaviors are performed, and to establish generalization.
As we study and apply these concepts and techniques, we'll establish the groundwork for a variety of obedience/rally skills and exercises. We will work on targeting, play, focus, impulse control, recalls, positions, retrieves, and heelwork. We will also introduce platforms and perch work. In addition to the basic class exercises we will offer you a bonus exercise each week. The bonus exercise will challenge you to take your skills to the next level.
It is expected that students will be working at a variety of different levels from baby puppies to absolute beginners to more experienced positive trainers with young dogs to crossover trainers and dogs. We will help you individualize the work for the level that is appropriate for you and your dog. Once you have taken this class you and your dog will be ready to move forward and continue developing your skills, teamwork, and partnership.
This is an entry level survey course. We will cover what we consider to be the most important foundation skills that you can then use later to build sport-specific behaviors. This course is designed for young teams that are relatively early in their training careers, with or without an experienced trainer!
Take a look at the trailer for this course.
Lecture: Marker training & use of reinforcers
Exercise: Ready?! cue
Lecture: Getting behaviors to happen
Lecture: Splitting vs. lumping AND Setting & Changing Criteria
Bonus: Leave it!
Lecture: Adding a Cue
Positions (sit, down, stand)
Bonus: Four feet in
Lecture: Generalizing Behaviors
Lecture: Moving to Partial Reinforcement
Bonus: Visual Direction
Lecture: Troubleshooting & Problem Solving
Beginning heel work (establishing close & side positions)
Bonus: Scent Discrimination
This course is appropriate for puppies, for trainers & dogs new to positive reinforcement training, or dogs just starting their performance training. This course is the place to start!
You will need: clickers (if you use one), lots of small soft treats, toys, a few props (which we will discuss as we go along).
Lecture 1: Getting Behaviors to Happen
When training our dogs we need some way to get behaviors to occur so that we can reinforce them. Because we are focused on positive training techniques we need to find ways that are fun and enjoyable for our dogs. Some of the techniques that you might consider using are shaping, luring, and targeting. For any behavior you decide to train you might use one or a combination of these techniques to get behaviors to happen. I’ll describe and discuss each briefly below.
What is it? Shaping is reinforcing approximations that lead to the target behavior.
It is a systematic step by step way to build the behavior. The dog is allowed to offer any behavior he chooses. The trainer reinforces (with a click & treat) the actions that are leading in the desired direction.
Here are a couple examples of shaping with a puppy:
Advantages: With shaping, you can get behaviors that you cannot using any other technique. I taught one of my dogs to yawn by shaping bigger and bigger mouth openings. That is not a behavior you can lure or target. Once your dog learns that offering behaviors pays off, you will get a wide variety of options to choose from. Shaping is a great mental activity both for the dog and the trainer.
Disadvantages: It takes effort and practice for a trainer to become good at shaping. Shaping requires a fine eye for detail and the ability to capture a desired movement in an instant. If your dog is not operant you are unlikely to get much in the way of offered behaviors, which is frustrating for both parties.
What is it? In luring you use either a treat or an object such as a toy as a guide to get your dog to move in a desired way. Typically, the lure is a reinforcer that your dog really wants, so he is motivated to follow it.
Here’s an example of luring a left spin:
Advantages: Luring is easy and simple. Just move the cookie and your dog follows! It is a common way to get large, obvious movements to happen. For example, using a cookie to lure your dog to spin will cause the behavior.
Disadvantages: Luring is an illusion. Unless you fade out the lure quickly you end up in a situation where your dog performs the behavior only when the lure is present. So true learning has not happened. In luring, your dog is simply following the reinforcer; not thinking about what he’s done to earn it. Some dogs are so focused on the reinforcer in front of their noses that they cannot think clearly.
What is it? A target is anything that your dog will move toward and touch. An early behavior we teach pups is to target the palm of our hands and touch with their noses. But you can teach your dog to target any object and touch with any body part.
Here’s an example of using a hand touch to teach a dog to crawl:
Advantages: A target gives you a way to move your dog to a different position or location without having to use a treat or toy. This gives you an advantage over luring. Target training can allow you to easily work your dog at a distance.
Disadvantages: The target needs to be faded out and that requires a specific training plan for keeping the behavior when the target is gone.
Performance Fundamentals Class 1 Exercises
Welcome to Performance Fundamentals! Each week we will give you several skills and exercises to practice with your dog. We will give you an explanation of each along with video demonstrations to help clarify what you need to do.
You may already have some of these skills or be familiar with the exercises. Before you move ahead be sure that your dog’s behavior meets the criteria we describe. Now is the time to make sure things are solid and perfect! Double-check everything as you go along. If you would like added challenges for any behavior or skill just ask. As the weeks go on don’t feel pressured to keep up with everything. Pick and choose those things that are most important to work on immediately, especially since you can get constructive feedback from us during the class session.
We teach our dogs to touch something with either their noses or paws when we teach them to target. This is a useful technique to get our dogs to move towards something or in a particular direction without having to use a lure. You can read more about targeting in Lecture for this week’s class. Please let me know if you have any questions.
This is a foundation behavior that is one of the first things we teach our puppies. A hand touch is useful as a tool for getting your dog to move from one place or position to another. We often use it as a transition step from luring or in place of luring. Be sure to teach a solid and reliable hand touch before you try to use it in other training.
Hand touch 1: Present open palm, click when your pup notices and moves towards it. Take a treat from the other hand, drop it into the palm of the target hand, and let your pup have it. Move your hand away for a second. Then present your hand and start again. This sounds much more complex than it is!
Hand touch 3: I’ve added moving my hand up higher and off to the side more. I also tried a few 2fers (two correct hand touches in a row). Notice that I praise the correct ones that I don’t reinforce. They need this feedback at first, but we phase it out quickly. I'm also reinforcing by tossing a treat for him to chase and eat. This resets him so he can then return for the next repetition.
Hand touch 4: Standing up and moving around. Now I'm using my verbal marker.
The hand touch is your first nose touch exercise. Once you have that established you want to transfer the nose touch to other objects, typically small targets.
You don't need a Treat & Train to follow this basic training plan. Just mark & reinforce as you would normally. Putting the target stick in your hand first allows you to transfer the touch from your hand to another object pretty easily.
Steps for introducing a nose touch to a target stick:
Teaching your dog to touch an object with his foot/feet will be extremely helpful in higher level training. If you’ve already taught a nose touch your dog will very likely want to offer that when you start to focus on his feet. It may take him some time to realize that touching with the nose isn’t paying off at the moment but touching with the feet is. If your dog tries a nose touch first just wait him out and see if he’ll get a bit frustrated and whack at the target with his paw.
This behavior involves having your dog touch his paw to your hand or to another target. If your dog already knows a nose touch he is likely to try that if you offer an open hand. One way to help clarify what you want is to use a fist instead of an open hand and to present your fist lower to the ground. You will have to play around with hand placement a bit. Starting paw target work with an object instead of your hand helps to avoid some of this confusion.
First session of a paw to target touch with a puppy.
PLAY & TOYS:
Playing with your dog is a skill that can be learned and improved. Some people, and dogs, are naturals at play. But others are not. Typically, puppies have a strong desire to play with you, but that desire will diminish over time if you don’t continue to play as they grow and develop.
We want our work and training with our dogs to be an extension of the playful interactions we have with them. We take the time to determine how our dogs like to play and to engage with them in ways that they enjoy. This pays off with big rewards later on when you and your dog are competing together and you cannot have food available in the ring.
Bear & the puppy toy (flirt pole): This is a great first toy for a puppy. It's also good for dogs that don't really play a lot.
Personal play: no toys, just your voice, movement, and touch.
Toy play: Notice how I'm introducing the "out" cue to release the toy by trading for a cookie. I am being very careful and gentle and letting him determine how hard to tug. Also, I'm moving away from him as I present the toy to encourage him to chase and grab it.
Star toy play: Note the use of voice, touch, and sound along with tug.
Personally, shaping is my favorite way to build behaviors. Whether you agree or not, it's a great tool to have instilled in your dog's repetoire early in his training career. Even if you don't do much pure shaping or free shaping, having a dog who is operant and understands when you want him to offer behaviors is very useful.
The beauty of shaping is that you can shape absolutely anything your dog is mentally and physically capable of doing. So feel free to use your imagination and shape something silly or cute!
In this video I'm shaping Helo to put his back feet on a large piece of cardboard and scratch. Why? Some folks use a "scratch board" (sandpaper covered board) to teach their dogs to file their own nails.
While I'm reinforcing from the Treat & Train here, that's not necessary at all. I could easily replace that with a treat toss forward.
A SAMPLING OF WHAT PRIOR STUDENTS HAVE SAID ABOUT THIS COURSE ...
Loved the Performance Fundamentals course - so much material to go on with, all the basics for pretty much everything for a sports dog or puppy! Deb and Judy's feedback was both caring and targeted. Another winner! My pup and I learnt heaps. Wendy R
Incredibly informative and helpful class. I am a crossover student, with 35 yrs experience training the "traditional" way. This is a challenge for me! But I have seen significant improvement in my dog's problem areas, so I am now committed to learning these training techniques; I'm starting over with her, having lots of fun and learning new things as fast as I can keep the clicker going! I have high expectations for achieving all of my performance goals using the Fenzi Academy to help me get there. I can't wait for my next class!!
So useful, especially if you don't have a really good positive methods trainer where you live!! Helped my dog revive his enthusiasm for working. Karen C
My first Fenzi course was Performance Fundamentals with Deb and Judy. What a great course! I learned a lot and really enjoyed the exercises. Judy and Deb provided great, timely feedback. This was a super course for anyone interested in performance events in the future. Every lesson was well thought out and there were thorough videos and explanations for each exercise. Griffin and I had so much fun with the class. Highly recommended! Kelli Whitfield
I've done a lot of shaping exercises with my dog, even taught classes as a pet store trainer, and this class still taught me loads! Some things were just a different perspective, but others were things I had never even thought about! I got some actions out of my dog I had previously thought he might just be physically incapable of! My favorite addition to training sessions from this is the "reset" treat; I find it creates way more excitement for coming back!
I'm an IT professional during the day, but had not imagined online courses working so well for training my dog. For me, two of the best features are videoing my training for my own benefit and having the time to take the instructors' comments on board and think about them before trying to put them into practice. Thanks so much!
I'm so excited to be starting my beagle puppy, Bria, at the Fenzi Academy. I love that all the foundation steps are layed out for you to follow. We're going to have so much fun together! Becki VW