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Scary, sad, conflicted and freeing, all at the same time.

This past year I have been overloaded with obligations, and rather than drive myself into the ground I decided to stop teaching private lessons.

Most of my students have been with me for a long time. I’ve seen puppies grow up and old dogs pass on. I’ve learned from my human students and their dogs – each day, minute by minute, and I’m grateful for their trust, patience, and acceptance. I don’t have all the answers and their trust has allowed me the freedom to try new approaches, and sometimes to fail.  I learned about a lot more than dogs.  I learned about the dog/handler team too; the importance of creating plans that are realistic, even when they weren’t my first choice.

Some came for a little problem solving…and never left.  Some returned to their clubs and training groups with new ideas – and occasionally met hostility and ridicule.   Yet they persisted, making obedience a more intriguing and enjoyable experience for both dogs and humans.  Instead of complaining about the current state of training, they worked from the inside to make obedience better.

My students have volunteered tirelessly on my behalf.  Someone has always been available to help me with my own dogs for a few minutes; to listen as I talked through a problem, or to provide a simple training distraction.  I’ll really miss that.

I’ll miss our discussions – many of which had nothing to do with dogs, but which have helped me with other goals and interests.  In particular, I appreciate all of the help with my kids – raising kids is really hard, and talking to those who have already been down that path has given me support and insight where I needed it.

This blog is to thank my students; past and present, for all you have done to support my growth, change and success, both within the sport of dogs and outside as well.  I mean it literally when I say that I would not be who I am today if it weren’t for your presence.  The more your dog made me think, work and struggle,  the more I appreciate what you have given me.  I am more calm. More patient.  More accepting.  More knowledgeable.  So thank you.

As you move forward, pay attention when your dog talks to you.  Celebrate the small successes.  Build your dog’s confidence.  Train with respect and affection.  Accept the dog you have – she has already accepted you.

Good luck. I miss you already.

About dfenzi

I'm a professional dog trainer who specializes in building relationship in dog handler teams who compete in dog sports. My personal passions are Competitive Obedience and no force (motivational) dog training. I travel throughout the world teaching seminars on topics related to Dog Obedience and Building Drives and Motivation. I own Fenzi Dog Sports Academy, a comprehensive online school for motivational training of performance sport dogs.

11 responses »

  1. What about your computer class for people far off ?

  2. It would be wonderful if every teacher (of dogs, anyway) understood as much as you do about the two-way nature of teaching. As my grandmother would have said, ain’t it grand?

    What brought a lump to my throat, though, as I read that post, is the advice to “accept the dog that you have — she has already accepted you.” (sounds of sniffing, and clearing of throat) That, Ms. Fenzi, is wisdom. And you know what? That attitude PERMEATES the videos you are using in the Precision Heeling online class, and it is such a pleasure to hear the encouragement in your voice; maybe even more wonderful to hear the way the students respond; and utterly delightful to watch dogs learning without duress. I wish my friends and I had discovered you a year or five sooner!

  3. pauline hosenfeld

    change is scary – especially when we can only look back and see what we have lost, but not yet know fully what lies ahead. My heart responded to this post, Denise – you have so much to offer the sport and all those who love their dogs. It must have been so hard to give up those wonderful relationships – I hope only the best for you as you move forward to the next stage! I’ll be cheering you on!

  4. Can someone fill me in, please? I love this blog and idolize Denise; I refer so many people to this blog to see the positive training example. I am very excited to clinic with her this coming Fall. What is ending and what is staying?

    • Morgan, only my private clients are affected – you’re safe:). Blog is staying. Online fenzi academy classes are staying. Seminars are staying.

      • I’m sure you will be missed. I am SO happy your blog is staying as it really helps me spread the word on positive methods that are very effective -as proven by your record. Thank you! I really admire you.

  5. Lucy Rasmussen

    Denise, I wish I could rewind the clock, reset both my and Ozzie’s hard drives, and begin again with you! The lessons that I learned from you during our lessons have made a huge difference in my approach to Ozzie’s training and my own approach to life! We’re not going to be OTCH, but learning to accept this and move toward a dog sport that both Ozzie and I enjoy has been a journey filled with frustration and challenge, but also with a lot of love! You have helped us find a path, for which we both are eternally grateful. I wish you success with the Fenzi Academy and look forward to taking advantage of this resource in the future.

  6. And we already miss you. You made it fun and we will just have to zip along with you buzzing in the back of my mind.

  7. We’ve been missing you, Denise, and think of you lots. Thanks for making obedience training enjoyable for us, and making such a positive difference in my training style and relationship with my dogs. Good luck with the new on-line academy and other future plans — we’ll be seeing you there! 🙂

  8. Denise,
    I have to tell you how much I enjoyed the Obility seminar today. I’m sure you know that you have a special gift, a talent – not just for training dogs – but for communicating that information to others. You do it with a sense of humor and a sense of enthusiasm that convinces me I, too, can do this – I can train my dogs. I want to try harder..for me, yes, but for you – to show you I can do it. I want to be able to tell you that Red and Snickers have accomplished amazing things – because of you!
    Whether or not that miracle every occurs, I am so grateful to have been your student even for these few months.
    I wish you and your family they very best in Colorado, and I hope you’ll come back to California often.
    Thank you!


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