My Dog Training Inspiration or Ode to Fenzi Dog Sports Academy


I stumbled across Fenzi Dog Sports Academy classes on an online forum. I thought it would be good for Mr. N to take an impulse control class and I couldn’t find an in-person class that fit with my schedule, budget and would take him.

It’s amazing how many of the local classes refuse to take reactive dogs in any of their “normal” classes (outside of the classes meant specifically for reactive dogs). I looked at various classes including recall, agility and tricks and he wasn’t allowed in any of them. At this point, Mr. N has progressed to where he can go to classes without reacting as long as the other dogs are under control but it was difficult finding classes at the time.


Fenzi is an online dog sports academy that teaches a variety of different classes including agility, obedience, nose work, freestyle, disc and pet manners. They offer different levels (gold, silver, bronze) depending on whether you have a working spot (with feedback) or auditing. They also offer scholarships for people who need them.

The instructors post weekly lectures and the gold students post videos of their dogs doing the assignments and the instructors offer feedback. Gold and silver students can ask questions on the forums.

Mr. N has taken various classes including nosework, shaping, Bogeyman (dealing with reactivity) and skills for little dogs. All of their classes are taught with positive training methods. What drew me the most to Fenzi was their ethos.

“We do not believe that “purely positive” exists, so we do not use that term. At the same time, we do not believe that compulsion is needed in either the training or proofing phases of dog sport preparation. All of our courses are taught in a manner that respects the well being and emotional comfort of both halves of the team – not just the handler.  We do not teach pain compliance techniques in our courses.”

I’ve always trained in a positive fashion but the Fenzi philosophy made me really think deeply about Mr. N’s emotional comfort as well. Is it fair to him? Is he comfortable? There are always things he will not like but I believe it’s important to help him cope with the things that are inevitable (fireworks, the vet) and not put him in situations that he shouldn’t have to cope with.

We’ve quit several different classes because a trainer would keep picking him up when he clearly did not want to be, he would repeatedly be charged by off-leash dogs in the classroom and was clearly set up for training failure by flooding. Fenzi gave me the conviction and awareness to say no, this is not fair to my dog. This is not fair to me. I’m leaving.

We dabble in dog sports but I take classes mostly because I want Mr. N to be the best dog he can be. And because we enjoy it. When I ask Mr. N if he wants to train, he eagerly runs to our training spot. Training is one of the highlights of his day. More than any training mechanics (although those too), Fenzi has taught me that relationship is paramount. I’m going to their dog sports camp (Ferretpalooza) this summer and I’m already making up a list of sessions I want to attend.

Our friends at Dash Kitten told us that when writing their kindness post, they were inspired by Mr. N when it came to writing about dog training.

“The happy whizzing tail of a pup going at top speed when its owner is kind, and gives praise for a training session that has gone well.”

That is what I strive for.

Welcome to First Monday’s Positive Pet Training Blog Hop hosted by Tenacious Little Terrier and Rubicon Days. Please share your responsible pet owner positive pet training tips by linking a blog post or leaving a comment below.  Our theme for this month is training inspiration or training mentor but any positive reinforcement training posts or comments are also always welcome. The Positive Pet Training Blog Hop goes all week long. Our next hop will begin February 6th and continues for a week.




47 Responses

  1. Cathy Armato

    January 14, 2017 3:38 am

    Fenzi sounds like a good find! I hope it works well for you. It's wonderful that Mr. N is excited about training. The most important thing is to always advocate for your dog. If something isn't comfortable for his, you need to leave & make no apologies.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  2. Emma

    January 14, 2017 1:07 pm

    We know lots of nose work friends who train with Fenzi classes. Actually, real nose work classes would work for Mr N as they are for reactive dogs. Dogs are always kenneled except when running, even at trials, dogs are not allowed to socialize and must be crated or locked in cars at all times when not running.

  3. Janet Keefe

    January 14, 2017 2:19 pm

    I love your philosophy as well, and that you've found Fenzi to help achieve what you want with Mr. N.
    I love Fenzi for two reasons: 1. I'm a homebody and hate a rigid schedule, so working at home on our own time works perfectly for me. 2. Luke and I can try new fun things without having to worry about working on his reactivity first. We'll always be working on that, but we want to try fun things too! With Fenzi we can easily do both.
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

  4. Rochelle

    January 14, 2017 3:48 pm

    I'm definitely going to check out Fenzi! I have the same problem with Henry and classes — living in NYC, there are so many cool classes available but he's just too reactive and I know spending time with all of those other dogs will just be too tough. I feel your pain!

  5. Christine Caplan

    January 15, 2017 1:01 am

    Fenzi online classes are awesome! I have audited two Nosework "trial" classes and LOVED the video demos the students posted. Also – if you want to try Nosework! It's tailored for reactive dogs – N would love it!! Happy new year!

  6. Robin Mudge

    January 15, 2017 5:18 am

    You and Mr. N deserve the best classes out there. Mr. N seems like a reasonably easy dog to train – he's smart and he likes structure. These classes sound like they are a great fit for both of you. I look forward to hearing about how everything turns out!
    -Purrs from your friends at

  7. Lindsay Pevny

    January 15, 2017 6:32 am

    I've never taken in-person training classes, but it sounds like we're not really missing out. I'm hoping to further my dogs' education this year, maybe through a Fenzi course, it sounds like a great investment.

  8. M Dawson

    January 16, 2017 12:23 am

    Mr N is a good dog. He is spoiled in the best possible way, with care, attention and a focus on his overall wellbeing. Every dog should have this kind of care and life.

    GO MR N!!!!!!!!

  9. Beth Patterson

    January 16, 2017 12:37 am

    I haven't heard of Fenzi before today, but it might be perfect for us. Theo and Sophie aren't really into social gatherings (unless there is a buffet involved.) I'd love to have them try some new activities, but I'm at a loss on my own.

  10. Sadie and Co.

    January 16, 2017 1:49 am

    Beautifully written. The love you have for Mr. N. Is obvious. Good for you for not sticking around in the classes that were upsetting to you both. Glad you found Fenzi training and thanks for sharing with us.

  11. FidoseofReality

    January 16, 2017 7:09 pm

    I love that you said you are doing this for Mr N to be the best dog he can be. You are a stellar dog mom and Mr N is a fab pup. I love reading about your experiences and thanks for sharing them with us.

  12. Maggie

    January 23, 2017 1:33 am

    Ooooh!! Such a great tip! I've never heard of that online academy before, and I always say that Cooper would be such a great sports dog if only he could keep his wits about him. I harbor a secret fantasy of him becoming a competitive athlete, but I'm not sure it's in the cards. The online academy is so fantastic, though! I think I'll have to check that out. Thank you!!


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