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For the past 6 weeks I have been participating in the online course through Agility University (Agility-U) taught by Tracy Sklenar called Maximize your Mini (aka Small Dog).

Over the past couple of years I taken a few online agility and dog training courses through various platforms and so far this one has been my favorite.

I originally registered as their mid-level student, where I could post comments and view materials, but couldn’t post videos of my practice for comment by the instructor.  After a week of observing Tracy’s teaching approach and feedback, I decided to upgrade to the level where I could post videos for review and comment by Tracy.  While this option was expensive, for this particular class I’m glad I was able to.  The upgrade was very easy to do, the tech support for the course was excellent.

I very much appreciated and enjoyed Tracy’s ability to instruct, the level and timeliness of feedback and responses, and her wide range of knowledge.  I’ve taken classes before where because I don’t run AKC or USDAA, the instructor didn’t know how to give feedback that would be useful for me running NADAC with distance, over and over they focused on skills and techniques that I would never have reason to use on course.  Not so with Tracy, she sees value in distance skills and though she doesn’t currently train or run NADAC style with her own dogs, she had no problems supporting my goals and needs in ways that were very helpful to me.  She continuously encouraged me to push my skills, try different ways to handle things at a distance, reminded me of my goals and to practice for them, and gave feedback on how to more clearly communicate with Zora without needing to get closer to her.  I’d never before taken a course with Tracy and knowing she focused her own skills mostly on USDAA, I was concerned maybe she wouldn’t be a good fit for my needs, but I was very happy to quickly realize what a great instructor she is regardless of the venue you train for or your training goals.  I very much appreciate an instructor who can focus on what their student needs and is working towards and adapt to that individual student’s need.  Tracy can and did do just that with each of us in the class.

The class materials were also very well done.  I appreciated the multi format style, each week materials were posted in PDF format with a written description of what Tracy was wanting us to practice that was well explained the whys and the hows.  Then the course map was included often with multiple easy to discern lines to better visually describe course and handling challenges.  Tracy also included links to demo videos with her dogs, using dogs of various levels to show how to set up and work through various potential challenges each set up gave.  I found the materials very accessible and easy for me to understand.

Though this course was specifically about improving ways to better handle and communicate with a small dog on course, when anyone was having more foundation based challenges, I very much liked that Tracy met each of us where we needed help.  She was willing and did post lots of foundation and intermediate step instructions and videos that I believe she uses in other classes she teaches.  These were all very helpful it seemed to many of us in the class, myself included.

I too liked that when Tracy posted the new class materials and homework, the website platform automatically emailed us to tell us.  I’ve taken other classes on different sites where unless you remember to religiously check the website, you have no other way to know when new materials are posted and it’s easy to forget.  With the email reminder prompting it was very easy to remember to stay on track with class.

I learned a number of new things in this class that I’m already seeing payoffs with when running and handling Zora.  Taking a class with someone who is experienced running and training dogs of all sizes to a very high level and can give explanation and suggestions to help better adjust to a small dog (especially for someone like myself who ran large dogs for so long, having a small dog is an adjustment for sure!) was fantastic.

The only 2 things I didn’t really appreciate about the course was the required CAPTCHA when I signed up through their website, but again the tech support staff was quick to help me out.  And the cost, the cost was higher than any other online dog training class I’ve taken, but all told the level of instruction and amount of materials and instructor feedback was significantly better than I’ve had in other classes, so I think the cost is actually very reasonable for what I received from the course.

All in all I would encourage anyone interesting in taking an online agility class to explore the courses through Agility-U and definitely consider taking one of Tracy’s courses.

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