Susan Finlay Ailsby (she/her) has retired from active teaching for FDSA.  She is a retired obedience and conformation judge.  She has been "in dogs" for 54 years, having owned and trained Chihuahuas, miniature pinschers, miniature longhaired dachshunds, Australian cattle dogs, miniature schnauzers, giant schnauzers, and Portuguese water dogs.  She has trained for virtually every legitimate dog sport including sled racing, schutzhund, hunting, tracking, scent hurdle and flyball, carting, packing, agility, water trials and herding, rally, conformation, obedience, and nosework.  Sue is an internationally known speaker on the subject of humane training for dogs and llamas and has been fundamental in introducing clicker training to Canada.

 Sue's personal website is:

 Pronouns: Sue goes by she/her.

Sue's Current and Upcoming Courses

Sue has retired from active teaching but has classes available for purchase under our self-study program.


Self Study Classes - lectures available for purchase

DS230: Conformation Skillbuilding 1

"Conformation classes" usually involve a lot of walking around in circles, stopping, and showing your dog's teeth to somebody. That's fine as far as it goes, but what about al...

Sue Ailsby (Faculty)

DS240: Conformation Skillbuilding 2

"Conformation classes" usually involve a lot of walking around in circles, stopping, and showing your dog's teeth to somebody. That's fine as far as it goes, but what about al...

Sue Ailsby (Faculty)

FE238: Structure and Movement

  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...

Sue Ailsby (Faculty)

Contact Information

Have a question about an upcoming course taught by Sue?  Not sure if your dog is suitable for a specific class?  We welcome you to contact instructors by email to make sure the course is suitable for you and your dog.

Click here to contact

Student Testimonials                                        

Sue Ailsby more than lived up to her reputation as a "shaping guru" by leading us confidently from the very beginnings of clicker work to the point where we could apply it to competition exercises and creating our own tricks. And all done in 6 weeks, with unfailing encouragement, humour and ever-helpful, specific advice. Please include more courses by her! Amanda B.

One would think that after reading Ailsby's books and participating in the yahoo discussion list, and reading everything available previously from Sue, and doing this for over 10 years, there would be nothing more to glean. But this was far from the case. The shaping course added immensely to my joy and effectiveness in training my dogs. Sue's knowledge and her love of training dogs and their owners just seems to keep growing. I hope she keeps sharing with us. This course was the best!! Donna E.

I signed up for Sue Ailsby’s class as a Silver but after a few days realized that I really needed to be a Gold. Shaping demystified. Not easy, but at least demystified. The conversations that Sue had with me and with other students became the high point of my day. She put an immense amount of thought and time into her responses and often made a special video just to address an area we were working on. Sue has a great sense of humor and tells wonderful stories to illustrate her point. Her ability to observe small movements and behaviors is astounding and is one of the skills she worked to pass on to us. She encouraged us to follow our own direction. My concerns about our dog’s reactivity led to a special lesson on the use of shaping in changing behavior or “opinion adjustments" (as Sue put it). Then classmates started a special thread on the topic, which was very helpful and made me feel a part of this classroom community. This 6 week session was more an experience than a class. Sandy H.                   

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!

Ailsby cares deeply about her students. Her comments and instruction show not only a profound understanding of the subject, but also a deep love of teaching and a great respect for each student.

I have done both Rally Skill Building 1 & 2 with Sue & have found her to be an absolutely brilliant instructor. It is obvious that Sue has very extensive knowledge & experience, her eye for detail is great and she is very motivating & encouraging as well as a great sense of humour. We have learnt so much in these two classes & are very pleased with the improvement. Thanks Sue Awesome Job !!! Melita R.            

Sue Ailsby is a fabulous teacher. She breaks things down in her lectures and illustrates each step in her videos. Her analyzes are clear and helpful. How she teaches has taught me to be a better teacher, not just in Rally but in other areas as well. Christine G.                       

Sue is a fabulous teacher. Her lectures and videos (including notations and pauses in them) are very clear. I especially love that she explains what could go wrong and how to fix it!