Teaching TEAM: Why I Decided to Offer TEAM Classes (And How It All Worked Out)

I have been teaching an in person TEAM class for about a year and a half. When I decided I wanted to teach again, I wanted to do so to share all I had learned about good foundations.

I wanted to share how fun training really is when we break skills down into tiny pieces that the dogs can understand and use props to help them be correct. With a high success rate, the dogs and people are so much happier!

What I didn't want to do was to put another "novice obedience" class on the schedule that would likely attract students who only want to practice the Novice ring routine, lumping and rushing to get their dog ring ready for a trial that will be held in 2 months.

How do you get people to buy in to practicing these tiny bits and pieces and not rush it? 

Turning to the TEAM Titling Program

I thought about the TEAM titling program. I have taken my own dog through the program, thought it was excellent and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Full disclosure: He already had advanced titles before we did that because, well, TEAM didn't exist before that. But taking him through TEAM improved our skills — OUR skills, not just his.

One of the things I love about TEAM is that it reinforces the human half of the team for splitting and paying attention to the details.

TEAM teaches us to pay attention to the details in the rules, details related to what the dog is doing, details related to what we are doing as handlers. In dog sports, the details matter. With TEAM, we start foundations on even the most advanced of exercises at the first level. They are tiny pieces of those exercises that a dog can learn easily.

TEAM 1 has 10 exercises that are little foundational pieces for many dog sport skills. Once the dog has learned them all and can chain them together, the handler can video the chain and submit for a title. It is an accomplishment the handler can feel very proud of. Thus, the handler is reinforced for working hard on the details at the foundational level. 

TEAM Titles Classes: Pitch, Hit, Home Run

Teaching TEAM seemed the perfect solution for what I wanted to do. I pitched the idea to the owner of the training center and she thought it was a great idea.

My biggest fear was that I wouldn't get students. Would enough people locally know what Fenzi TEAM is? I needn't have worried, my class filled right away.

I really enjoy teaching TEAM. By putting a class on the schedule called Fenzi TEAM, I have attracted students who understand and appreciate splitting skills into tiny pieces to help dogs learn. I have students who are kind and supportive to their dogs, each other and me. I have students who are patient in the learning process for themselves and their dogs. We are all thrilled in the lightbulb moments when the dogs figure something out and they are so proud of themselves. 

Putting a class on the schedule called FENZI TEAM tells the perusing public something important about this class and how I teach. It can be intimidating looking around for a local in person competition obedience class. Schools will have classes posted on their schedule, but they don't say how they train.

Unless we know the instructor, we have no idea what to expect when we get there. We fear it won't be a safe and kind environment. Occasionally, I see pleas from people in the alumni group asking if there is anyone teaching classes in such and such area who follow Fenzi principles.

Putting a class on the scheduled called Fenzi TEAM tells people they can expect a kind and safe learning environment.

I am up to 2 TEAM classes now. The students in my advanced class have been with me for 18 months. A few have titled in TEAM. A few are getting ready to compete in some fall Rally and C-WAGs Obedience trials. I am excited for them because I know that, whether they get a ribbon or not, they are ready and will have a good time.

I am also thrilled because, prior to this, they had little interest in those sports because they thought training for it wasn't fun. Now it is.

My beginner's class is full of people who are eager to learn and loving the training process. Most have been with me 9 months. They are smiling their dogs are smiling. They are learning and they are in no hurry to put a ribbon on it.

I love teaching TEAM!

E135: Michael Badial - "Handling Aggression"
E134: Suzanne Clothier - "Relationship Centered Tr...