Classes are taught by volunteers and not paid professional staff, although all instructors have a range of experience both in competing in agility and teaching the sport. Class lessons follow a written curriculum that is carefully designed to provide a cohesive, consistent and progressive approach to training all of the agility obstacles and handling maneuvers. Lesson plans are updated for each new training season.
Contact Zonies’ training philosophy is based on a positive reinforcement methodology. No force or coercion is used in our training approach. Food, toy play and praise are the primary reinforcers employed to creating a positive learning environment for both the dog and handler.
Safety is also of utmost importance to us. Dog-to-dog or dog-to-people aggression is not tolerated and any incidents will be promptly assessed with the possibility of dogs being excused from class without refund of fees. Beginner dogs and new dogs to the program are required to be evaluated through a questionnaire and in-person evaluation for their ability to work in a stimulating environment without aggression to other dogs or people. Here is a video demonstration of the in-person evaluation.
We know that many dogs will be excited by the class setting and the activity of agility itself, especially for the new and inexperienced dogs. Lesson plans are designed to teach dogs and handlers methods to cultivate engagement, focus and impulse control along with the skills associated with obstacle performance and handling. Management techniques such as crating, the use of long-lines and other tools are also employed in the class setting as teams are building their attention capability.