Frequently Asked Questions

Got questions? We've got answers!
 

general rules & Information for all levels

Do you have a minimum and a maximum age for a dog to compete?
6 months minimum; there is no maximum age.
How long will it take to train for each level?
Time will vary depending on the foundations you have already trained.   You should plan to spend several months preparing your dog for each title.
Do I need to join a membership organization?
No, however you must register your dog with TEAM.  You can do that here.
My dog is trained past the first level. Can I enter at a higher level?
No – each level must be completed in order to be eligible for the next level.
Will I need special equipment?

The required equipment is listed for each exercise at each level. These are fairly common dog training aids and it is likely that you already have most of these objects. Please see our “Definitions” page for more assistance.

Can my friend hold the video camera or is a tripod required?
You have options!  Do what works best for you.
Is there a minimum space (square footage) required?
No.  Just make sure that the area clearly allows the judge to visualize all the elements at the required distances.
Can I use praise or talk to my dog during the test?
Praise and play is allowed between exercises. Each exercise states when the judging begins and ends. During that time the handler must be quiet except for any verbal cues. Exceptions may be listed in individual exercises.
Can I use food or toys to reward my dog during the test?
Each level has different allowances for quantity of reinforcement. Please see your specific test.
Do both my dog and I have to be fully visible at all times during the test?
The ideal situation is that both dog and handler be visible at all times, however, we recognize that a dog might go out of camera range while chasing a treat and that is acceptable.  The entire body of the handler should be visible at all times so that they can be judged for additional cues, excessive handler motion, etc.
Can I wear a bait bag during the test?

No.  There should be no external cues to your dog that you are carrying reinforcement, even at the first levels where carrying reinforcement is allowed.

Can I use a remote food dispenser (like a Treat and Train) instead of a food toss?
Yes, you can.  Make sure that the remote is only in your hand when you are at the point of food toss.  For example, your dog is called to front position while the remote is in your pocket.  Take the remote from your pocket, dispense a treat, and put the remote back in your pocket.
Can I hold food in my hand for exercises allowing a food toss for a reset?
No.  Please take the food out of your pocket as needed for food tosses.
Can I hold food in my mouth?
No.  Please take the food out of your pocket as needed, or store nearby if preferred.
Do I have to be a Fenzi student to compete in TEAM?

NO. The Fenzi TEAM program is a separate organization from Fenzi Dog Sports Academy.  Everyone is welcome!

Can differently-abled dogs compete?

Any dog can compete, but we are not structured to provide special accommodations for dogs with special needs. So, if your dog is differently-abled, he/she will still need to perform the exercises as written.  However, you can choose to omit one skill per level. For example, if your dog cannot jump due to a physical challenge, you have the option of omitting the jumping skill.  Normally the dog must attempt all exercises, so if you are omitting an exercise because of your dog’s specific health-related reason,  please mention this clearly in your video.

Can differently-abled handlers compete?
Yes; however you must be able to perform the critical portions of each exercise. Please contact us to discuss specific modifications as needed.
My dog has a short coat. Can my dog wear a jacket for warmth during the test?
Yes. Your dog can be “dressed” if that makes him or her more comfortable.
Can I call you on the phone to discuss?
No – we don’t have a phone number.
Where are you located?

As an internet based company, we are everywhere.  Our judges are international. Our server is in the US. Our administrator is in Canada.

Can I compete if I live outside of the US?
Yes. There are no restrictions based on geography.
Does TEAM include stays?
Yes. All of our stays are integrated into the work as a whole. For example, you may be asked to leave your dog on a stay to set up for an exercise, or to demonstrate your dog’s self control in the presence of distractions.
Does TEAM include group stays?
No.
Where should I hold my hands and arms during the exercises?

You can have your arms straight down at your side or behind your back for stationary exercises – you may NOT have your hands in front of your thighs or closer to create a target for fronts.

In heeling, in addition to hanging down normally at your side,  you have the option of the left arm at your waist, centered over your middle (bellybutton).  You may NOT hold your hand as a heeling target (straight up from left side) unless the test that you are working on specifies that a hand target is ok. Once an exercise begins, your hand/arm position should remain stable, unless giving a hand signal.

Can I perform my heeling on the right hand side?
Yes, you may choose either the right or left hand side for both heeling and finishes but you must remain consistent within a single test.  For example, if you choose the right side, then the pivots, finishes and heeling in movement must all be demonstrated on that side for that test.  Please note that the rules are written up with an assumption of left hand side heeling, so the handler will be responsible for determining the equivalent on the right hand side.  For example, if a level instructs you to perform a pivot “counterclockwise” in heel position, then a person who chooses the right side will need to modify that to “clockwise” in order to demonstrate the equivalent behavior.
How many levels would I have to complete to be ready for an AKC/FCI/UK, etc. obedience title?

We do not see our program as a training ground for other organizations, so you will not find our program helpful if your goal is to train for other organizations’ obedience titles in the order specified by those organizations. However, if your dog is titled through TEAM6, you should be very well prepared for the essential portions of  the exercises in almost all venues, except for the group stays.

Can I compete if I do not have access to YouTube?
No – you’ll need to find access to YouTube in order to submit videos.  We do not allow Vimeo or other platforms because  these videos cannot be read on all devices.
Where I can learn more about training the exercises in the levels?
You have options!
You can take classes at FDSA.
You can watch YouTube videos – all of the skills will be covered somewhere!
You can follow Denise Fenzi’s blog.
You can find a local instructor to help you.

Judging & scoring

Who are your judges?
Our judges are all individuals who have titled at high levels of obedience in their own country, and/or who are very familiar with training behaviors using small and measured increases in criteria. Most of our judges are also instructors at FDSA.
How will judges be selected for each video?
Videos will be assigned according to workload, but in a random fashion.
Will I know which judge I have been assigned?
No. Judging will be anonymous.
How long does it take to get my video judged and receive the results?
On average about 5-7 days.   Occasionally it may take up to two weeks.
Do you score the performances?
No, our system is pass/not yet!
Will I receive feedback on my video?
Yes!  In particular, if an exercise is not passing the judge will provide you with helpful comments that you can incorporate into your future video submissions.
I submitted a video that is not quite there yet. Will I receive a chance to re-submit without an additional fee?

No.  Please review criteria for each skill and level carefully BEFORE submitting. Only submit videos that meet criteria so that you will earn a passing score! Each video submission is judged; that is what the fee covers.  If you choose to submit a new video, you will also submit another entry fee.

Can I appeal a non-qualifying attempt?
No. Videos are scored carefully using clear criteria for passing/not yet! designations.
How many times may I attempt a level?
As many times as you wish but please – save yourself money and all of us some heartbreak – don’t submit non-qualifying videos!
If I pass may I submit another video and attempt to pass multiple times?

No. There is only one pass per title. In order to ensure that we can review as many videos as possible, only submit a video when you have a passing evaluation. Then train for the next level or work towards your Plus or Honors titles!

What are the criteria for passing a level?

Our program is designed to measure the handler’s ability to achieve excellence in training, not a minimum level of acceptability.  All exercises in all levels must be performed correctly and according to criteria, and all exercises must be attempted.  One non-qualifying exercise per submission is allowed. (Please see the General FAQs for information regarding dogs and handlers who are differently-abled.)   Criteria are stated in the detailed exercise pages for each level.  In levels 1–3, accurate heeling and pivots and straight sits will be judged as part of the criteria — in other words, behaviors that would be judged as minor deductions in other organizations will be evaluated.  From level 4 and above, the emphasis is on behavior chains.  Here the same level of precision is not required, and the handler can decide whether or not to maintain their own personal criteria.

The pre-Levels are an exception.  The exercises are the same as for TEAM1, 2 and 3, but the competitors may attempt as few as six of the exercises and must pass five.  Criteria for a pass for each exercise remains the same.

What if it’s so close the judge can’t decide?

When it comes to criteria, we try to be as black and white as possible but realistically, that won’t always happen.  Was that a 2-foot backup or 1.5 feet?  Was that sit within 30 degrees or closer to 45 degrees?  Did the handler make a minor error that did not affect the exercise? Because we recognize that criteria can be hard to judge, we allow judges to consider an exercise as “questionable.”  Two “questionables” is the same as one “not yet.”  So if you get two “questionables” and everything else is a clear pass, then you’ll earn your title!  If you have three “questionables,” or a “questionable” and a “not yet,” then your video will be judged as “not yet” for the title.

I want to do an exercise differently than the sample video demonstrates, and I’m not sure from the written description if it’s ok. What should I do?

When in doubt, don’t make the judge think!  If you follow the sample video, then you will know that you have performed correctly according to the spirit intended for that exercise.  Each judge will decide for him or herself if an exercise is correct and meets passing criteria.  The exception is a legitimate reason for being unable to do the exercise as demonstrated in the video.  For example, the handler has a specific disability which needs to be accommodated.  In that instance, please contact us in advance for an acceptable alternative arrangement.

Is it possible to fall short on an exercise even if that specific error is not mentioned in the “non-qualifiers” description?
Yes!  There is no way that we can specify all of the reasons why a dog might fail an exercise, so we list the ones that are most common.   Focus on performing each exercise as described in the written section and according to the sample video.

Titling with TEAM

Do you offer certificates for titles?

After submitting a passing video, you will earn a title for that level.  A printable certificate in .pdf format will be emailed to you acknowledging your accomplishment.

Will my dog’s registered name or call name be listed on the certificate?
Both will be listed; the call name will be in quotation marks.
Can I add a TEAM title to my dog’s registered name? What would that look like?

Yes, you can. If you qualify, you may add “TEAM” (with the correct level number) after your dog’s name. For example, “Brito TEAM2, TEAM1+.”

Can I search your database to see who has earned titles?

Yes, if the dog’s guardian has opted to include his or her name in the open search function.

Competition submission information

How do I earn a title?

Register your dog, study the requirements for the first level title (TEAM 1 or the optional Pre-level 1), and start training!  When you feel that your dog is fluent on all of the exercises required for a level, set up the videocamera so that a judge can clearly judge your performance, and take your video!

Here are the details for earning titles.

Pre-Level 1 (optional)

This is an optional title for those who want to get their feet wet before they have all of the behaviors to qualify at Level 1.  To qualify for a Pre-level 1 title, the team must pass at least five of the ten exercises for Level 1.

Levels 1–3: (TEAM1, 2, and 3)

The first three levels were designed to test important foundation skills for teams who wish to pursue many types of dog sports including obedience, rally obedience, tricks, freestyle and more. Dogs that can demonstrate these core skills will be in an excellent position to learn advanced exercises and prepare for competition. Details for Levels 1, 2 and 3 may be found on the individual level pages.  All levels may be completed in the same, familiar location.  Once each level is completed, the title “TEAM1,” “TEAM2” and “TEAM3” may be added after your dog’s name.

Levels 1–3 Plus:  (TEAM1+, 2+, and 3+)

The Plus series requires the skills in Levels 1, 2 and 3 to be completed in a novel location other than that used for Levels 1, 2 and 3, and different for each of the Plus levels.  Details for Levels 1, 2 and 3 may be found on the individual level pages.  Teams may complete each Plus level in conjunction with the original level or may choose to complete them after successfully completing Level 1-3.  For example, a team might choose to do TEAM1, 2 and 3 followed by TEAM1+, 2+, 3+ OR the team might do TEAM1 and then TEAM1+, TEAM2 and then 2+, etc.  Once completed, the “TEAM+” title may be added after your dog’s name at the appropriate level. Completion of Levels 1+ through 3+, or the more challenging Honors series, is necessary to continue on to Levels 4-6.

Levels 1-3 Honors

The Honors level is an optional titling level. This level requires that the only rewards given are those that are specified within the individual exercises as reset rewards or distraction rewards.

Details for Levels 1, 2 and 3 are located on the individual level pages.
Teams may complete each Honors level in conjunction with the original level or may choose to complete them after successfully finishing Levels 1-3, or Levels 1+-3+.  Teams may opt to go directly to the Honors level instead of the Plus level if they choose. Once completed, the “TEAMh” title may be added after your dog’s name at the appropriate level.

Completion of the Level 3h or Level 3+ is necessary to continue on to Levels 4-6.
Location planning is important for the Honors/Plus levels as the location may not have been used in any prior video submissions. We suggest thinking about space requirements and considering how planning may assist you. For example, TEAM3 likely needs a fair amount of space compared to levels one or two. You may use the TEAM3 location for either  TEAM1+ or 2+ and then use it for TEAM3 only IF you submit the 1 or 2 Plus level prior to the base level 3.

Levels 4–6: (TEAM4, 5, and 6)

Dogs that have earned a TEAM3+ or TEAM3h are eligible for Levels 4, 5 and 6.  These advanced levels apply the basic skills from Levels 1, 2 and 3 and create challenging, unique behavior chains that emphasize reduction of reinforcement, use of novel locations, cue discrimination, and greater formality.  Each of these levels must be tested in a new location that has not been used before.  Once each level is completed, the title “TEAM4”, “TEAM5” and “TEAM6” may be added after your dog’s name.

Levels 4–6 Plus:  (TEAM4+, 5+ and 6+)

The Plus series requires the skills in Levels 4, 5 and 6 be completed in a novel location that has not been used before in a passing video submission at any level.  Teams may complete each Plus level in conjunction with the original level or may choose to complete them after successfully completing Levels 4-6.  For example, a team might choose to do TEAM4, 5 and 6 followed by TEAM4+, 5+, 6+ OR the team might do TEAM4 and then TEAM 4+, TEAM5 and then 5+, etc.  Once completed, the “TEAM+” title may be added after your dog’s name at the appropriate level.

Levels 4-6 Honors: (TEAM4h, 5h and 6h)

The Honors title series combines the skills in Levels 4, 5 and 6 with two additional requirements: each level must be completed without any food or toy reinforcers AND each level must be completed in a new, public environment with obvious activity — a new location for each level. Once completed, the “TEAMh” title may be added after your dog’s name at the appropriate level.

How do I submit a video?

Upload your video to YouTube, then include a link to your video with your submission. If you’re unsure of how to upload a video to YouTube, please search Google for assistance or visit the YouTube website. We cannot provide technical assistance on how to use YouTube.

How long should the video be?

An average video should be about 5–7 minutes, depending on how you choose to set up your testing area and how quickly your dog works through the tests.  Maximum length of video is stated for each level.

May I read from a “cheat sheet” to follow the order of exercises?

Yes, but the less reading you do, the more connection you will maintain with your dog! We would suggest familiarizing yourself with the exercises and their order in advance so that a quick glance is enough to move you to the next exercise.

Must I perform the exercises in the order as listed on the level rules page?
Yes.  The exercises must be done in order, one after the other, performed correctly on the first attempt.
Can I do each exercise separately and edit the video together?

No. The video needs to be one continuous process from the start of the first exercise until the end of the last one. Your dog should be sufficiently well-trained through that level that he/she is capable of doing all of the exercises correctly, meeting specified criteria, continuously and in order.  If you find that you need to attempt the test several times, then your dog may not be ready!  Go back to training, and fill in any gaps that you find!

Can I use an assistant to call out the exercises or to move equipment for me?

Yes, although some of the higher levels might specify that your dog hold a stay while the handler arranges equipment, in which case you would be required to move equipment yourself.  If a physical disability prevents you from moving equipment, please contact us to discuss an alternative arrangement.

Can I use an assistant to help me place objects and take them away?
Yes, unless instructed otherwise for your specific level.
I’m not good at counting. What happens if I’m supposed to keep my dog in a position for a given period of time, say two seconds, and it’s really only one?
We would suggest that you err on the longer side if you are unsure. For example, if we require a two second hold, consider going for three seconds instead.
What do I do with my dog between exercises?

It’s the handler’s choice what to do between exercises. You may place your dog on a mat, on a stay near you, or simply allow your dog to hang out. The dog should remain in camera view for the entire test.

How should I structure my session to be most efficient?

Each level offers a sample passing video.  Take note of where the equipment, camera, dog and handler are located throughout the test. If you set up a similar plan, you will find that the exercises flow efficiently.  You are not required to set up according to the sample, unless the level specifies a specific pattern.

I don’t want all of my props down during my entire video. Can I pick up objects and only put them on the ground when I am using them?

Yes, that’s generally fine. Our sample video is just that — a sample. As long as you go in order and maintain reasonable speed and flow, alternatives are fine.  At the higher levels, you will be told if equipment must remain down during the entire test.

Which hand positions are allowed for heeling?

Acceptable hand position for heeling includes the traditional AKC/CKC positions (left arm may be centered over your waist or held down at your side, moving naturally in motion), or the FCI/ IPO position (hand down or held somewhat over the outside of your dog’s head).  Please note that a target hand position is allowed in some early levels — please read the heeling description for each level with care.

Which hand/arm positions are allowed while the dog performs the exercises?

With the exception of heeling,  your hands should be down naturally at your sides. Your hands should not move during an exercise except as necessary to offer hand signals. You may not hold your hand as a target together in front of your thighs to aid the dog in front position.

Do you have sample videos that will help me perform each level and exercise correctly?

Yes.  We have provided video examples of each exercise, including variations where appropriate. You can find those by selecting the level that you are interested in, and then scrolling down to the specific exercise.  From there you will find a sample video.

Will my videos be made public?
When you register your dog for a competition, we will ask you if we may use your video for promotional or training purposes. It will be your choice.
Do I need other people to train with or to create test videos?

No. You can train and videotape your tests alone. At some point, you will be testing in public, and you may find it easier to have an assistant.

How do I ask questions about each level?

Please take the time to read all of these FAQs and the criteria for each level with care. Your questions are extremely likely to be covered in one of those places. If you cannot find the answers, then the next best option is to join the Fenzi Team Titles Facebook group, where other experienced participants can guide you.

Registration & payment information

How do I register my dog?
Follow this link and read the directions. Registration is easy!
If I have multiple dogs, can I receive a registration discount?
No.
What do I need to do to compete for Fenzi TEAM titles?

1. Register your dog here
2. Train your dog to criteria!
3. After you receive registration confirmation and a registration number, you’re ready to go! Submit your trial application using the link provided in your dog’s profile.
4. Your video will be assigned to one of our judges for review. You should be notified by email within one to two weeks about whether you have passed or if you need more training.

Can I pay by check?
No. Our payment system is fully automated and requires either a credit or a debit card.
What is the cost to register a dog?

$20 per dog. Once your dog is registered, you will receive an email with the registration number. Please take the time to spell your dog’s name and your personal information with care!

Does the dog’s registration ever expire?
No.  It is a lifetime registration.
What is the cost to enter a video?

$29 per video submission.

If you have read through all of the FAQ pages and you still have a question, please send your inquiry to: team@fenziacademy.com. We’ll consider adding it to the FAQ!

You also will find a good deal of support and information from your fellow TEAM players; join the Facebook group here!

About Team

TEAM is a virtual titling program that focuses on excellent training progression. 

Each level adds complexity for the dog-handler team, presenting them with a wide range of interesting skills to master right from the start.

There’s no reason to hold back on distance work or jumping exercises while teaching your dog to heel!