Contact Zonies offers an extensive and comprehensive agility training program that takes its students from raw beginners to advanced competitors.
What we offer
Class sessions run from mid-September to mid-May. Hour-long classes are offered four nights per week, Monday through Thursday, at the club’s outdoor training site located at the Melrose Swim Club, near 32nd Street and Shea Boulevard, in Phoenix. (Map & Directions) Learn more about the Zonie’s training site here.
Contact Zonies offers three class sessions each training year, broken into 9-week sessions, with a long break for the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years holidays and a week-long break in the spring. Beginners will be offered twice a year in 18-week sessions, with the first class starting in mid September and running into March. The second Beginners class overlaps the first when it starts in January. Check the club Calendar for session start dates.
Class levels increase in difficulty in the following progression. All class offerings except Beginners are 9 weeks long and can be repeated as needed.
New students will be expected to enroll in classes according to the above hierarchy, unless separately approved by the Training Director to enroll out of sequence. Moving on to the next higher class level is determined by the dog/handler team’s satisfying criteria for the next level. Moving on to the next higher class level is determined by the dog/handler team’s meeting the criteria for the next level. Advancement criteria for each class can be found here. Criteria for Class Advancement.
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.
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 line leashes and other tools are also employed in the class setting as teams are building their attention capability.
Classes are generally comprised of up to 16 dog/handler teams. A class will be divided into two, three or four groups. Each group will rotate through exercise stations containing one or two exercises assigned to an instructor. All groups will be active at the same time. At the Beginners level, the exercises may allow more than one team in a group to work at the same time. Often an assistant instructor is also assigned to a group as well. In the higher level classes, usually only one dog is working at a time on that group’s exercise. Teams may be given additional exercises to work on or are expected to observe the working dog in their group.
Much can be learned by observing other teams performing the exercise and students are expected to take advantage of this opportunity while waiting their turn. Handlers are not allowed to take their dog on equipment outside the group exercise and must avoid being disruptive to other teams working. Handlers can bring transportable crates to carry with them as they rotate between exercises and place the dog in the crate while waiting their turn. About a dozen permanent kennels are available for handlers to use to secure their dogs, especially during set-up and tear down. No dogs are allowed to be tied to fences or chairs or left unaccompanied before, during or after class.
Set-Up and Tear Down
Classes are one hour in length with students required to arrive at least 15 minutes early to help set up equipment for the first class of the evening, or to stay after the last class is finished to put equipment away. Set-up and tear-down are integral components of the class requirements and all students are expected to contribute to this element of the class. We understand that not all people are capable of assisting with moving heavy equipment, but there are many tasks that students can assist with that do not require lifting heavy weight.