Susan Finlay Ailsby 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 website is

Sue's Current and Upcoming Courses

Contact Information

Have a question about an upcoming course taugh 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.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Student Testimonials

Training Levels One / Two A

This is amazing class. It was my first class at Gold and I am so happy I took it. I am just starting out in dog training and I couldn't be happier to get a foundation in training via Sue and her feedback. This class has revolutionized my understanding of dog training that will apply to any activity we pursue. My only fear is that I am now totally addicted to taking Gold classes.       

This was probably the best course I have taken a Fenzi Academy. Sue was very clear with instructions and I love how the course was presented. I prefer Step 1, Step 2, etc. instead of a whole list of things to work on at the beginning of a course. I get overwhelmed and don't do any of them. This was perfect for me and my dog!        

Sue's Training Levels are amazing because they direct you as to how to split and proof behaviors. They give me an organized and methodical way to get to where I want to go with my puppy. Her clear lectures help me to know when I should slow down and go back to the beginning but also prevent me from stalling. Can't say enough good things!          

Sue was an awesome instructor who took the time with each of us to view many videos, offer constructive and, at times, humorous feedback. She has improved my training significantly over the six weeks of this class, and we are looking forward to TL2B in October...yes, at Gold!           

Sue is wonderful - her commentary on the Gold threads was extremely helpful and kind. She has inspired me to be brave and try a Gold spot for Level 2B, even though I am a very new trainer and am surely doing many things wrong.         

Excellent class, more than I'd even hoped for. My appreciation for the Levels training method continues to grow as I use it and learn more about it through your books and this class. Your skill as an instructor is astounding (though it shouldn't be!!) because you slice through to the heart of the matter and break the challenge or obstacle down so beautifully that it is one of those smack the head moments. I am very grateful for your time and generosity and for the gift that you share with your students--and through them all the dogs that they touch.            

Thank you Sue. The course was brilliant. You made the steps easy to follow. I love your wit and banter. I knew there were holes in my basic training but what an eye opener this has been.The nice gap between 2A and 2B will be a great chance to catch up and consolidate so thanks for that too. 

FE210: Shaping

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 wasn't so certain that online classes would be REALLY useful - I am blown away by how much one can learn and implement through the online system - certainly makes it possible to participate in novel learning experiences that would not otherwise be available! S.H.

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

FE238 Structure & Movement 

I think the structure and movement course was an excellent companion course to the canine fitness courses I am taking. Really enjoyed the content, the way the course has been presented and the tempo. Very nice!            

Words cannot express how helpful I find Sue's marked-up video stills and drawn-on pictures -- I'm sure they must take a while to do, but SO. INCREDIBLY. HELPFUL.             

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!            

This course was amazing. I learned loads and Sue Ailsby is a wonderful teacher. I had taken other courses and read books about structure in the past but I learned so much more. A wonderful experience! My only regret was that with so much info (and the holidays in between) time really flew, I wished the course was longer! (Serena M)         

Sue has such in-depth knowledge and a magical way of sharing it so that we can begin to see structure and movement through her eyes. So many tools to take away. I'll never look at any dog (or llama) in the same way again.

DS230: Conformation Skills

I really enjoyed this course and sues instructions though i have been show handling 4 years i still learned an awful lot well worth it i will definitely be taking more courses online. Learning much easier and better than i anticipated i love the whole fenzi academy concept of one stop shopping for dog training with the best instructors

The first conformation handling class I have ever taken that actually teaches you how to TRAIN the dog, as opposed to 'handle' it. I don't know that I've ever had so many "aha" moments in a dog training class. Fantastic

Sue Ailsby's Conformation class was my first class with the Fenzi Acadamy. The class is full of beneficial training information and tips, with a new lesson almost every day. I had been attending some local classes but still felt my Rottweiler puppy was not as well-trained as I'd like, especially for me as a new exhibitor in the sport. I believe that the information we gained from this class will help provide her with the solid foundation that I felt was lacking and will keep us busy practicing for months. My only regret is that I did not sign up as a Gold level participant instead of Bronze! Thanks so much, Sue, for your efforts. It was a great class and just what we needed. Kimberly & Kaley

Conformation Skills was a suburb class. So much content, it was very difficult to get through all the lessons in 6 weeks. If you want to have a dog that is fun and knows it's job in the pretty dog ring this is the best class I have taken. All the ring behaviors broken down into the smallest teachable units and then put back together. Plus hints on showing your dog's best assets when you are a gold student. I would definitely repeat this class at the gold level with every dog I was taking into the conformation ring. A small investment compared to entry fees and a wealth of knowledge shared. Marti S.

I was blown away by the content of this course. I have dabbled in conformation over the years, and have gone to lots of handling classes, both free ones offered by the local kennel club, others that I paid a fair sum for, just to have someone go over my dog, and I have attended one professional two day handling seminar, but nothing compares to the approach taught by Sue. I have learned so much, even as a bronze level student. I just wish that I could have participated at the gold level,which I plan to do if it is offered again.

RA210: Rally Skillbuilding One

I learned so much from the feedback that Sue gave her Gold students. She is kind and humurous while being precise and full of alternates suggestions if the original way she presented the material does not work for a student. Great instructor; I won't take the next RA right now because I need more time to work on the basis but I will in the future and I will look up the other classes she instructs.

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.

The thing I liked about this course is that it taught the skill components of each Rally sign and broke it into different small behaviours. I had taken another intro course before which I would now describe as only an intro to the signs of Rally...rather than the skills of Rally.

I have taken and taught rally courses. My dogs have competed to the excellent level. But this course was filled with information that challenges me to do more. I can't imagine a better and more enjoyable course in rally and in dog training in general. This was the best. Period.

I wish I'd had this class years ago when I'd started training my dog for Rally. Sue does a great job building the skills needed for Rally competition with a joyful and precise canine companion

RA220 - Rally Skillbuilding Two

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 & encourage as well as a great sense of humour. We have learnt so much in these to 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.             

I can't even begin to tell you how much the skills I've learned from FDSA classes have made a difference in my relationship with my dog. She used to be so environmentally sensitive that she rarely looked at me outside. Now, even in challenging environments, I have a dog! Last night in our in person Rally class, another student complimented Nala's "lovely focus," and our instructor laughed at Nala's cute, eager swing finish. That's thanks to y'all!           

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!

I took this class at the suggestion of another classmate. She said Sue approached things very differently - she is unlike any other. I found that to be so true. She is funny and supportive and pushes us when we need it. She did indeed have the solution to my problem!