Build a Strong Foundation, Right from the Start!

Course developed and taught by Tara Monahan OCT CPCFT SCMT

Whether you are starting a puppy or trying to help a senior dog become more active, there is no more important step in conditioning than the foundations. Foot targeting, side stepping, backing up, weight shifting...these are all foundation skills which can be layered into more complex conditioning exercises. However, just as important as skill development is the development of your relationship with your dog, and the development of your dog's attitude towards working with equipment and working with you. I want to create a foundation that results in your dog being happy, engaged, and confident when you are working with them.

What are the benefits of taking this course?

This course is designed to improve:

  • strength

  • confidence

  • proprioception (body awareness)

  • mobility

  • flexibility


  • balance

  • trust

  • relationship

  • confidence

  • and much, much more…

…the transformation in my dog has been profound…

I participated in an online class called Building Strong Foundations from Canine Fitness Innovations. Tara’s depth of knowledge is incredible & she was unstinting in making that knowledge available to us in an organized & logical step by step process. In fact there was so much information that I found it difficult to assimilate it all whilst holding down a full time job! The transformation in my dog has been profound. I would highly recommend anyone who wishes their dog to be as athletic & injury free as possible to take this class. If you do any sport with your dog, take this class! If you want your companion to remain as pain free & as happy as possible as they grow older, take this class! If you want something to gently build your relationship with your dog, take this class. Seriously, take this class! 🙂
Rozanne Miller

Is this the right course for your dog?

This course is perfect for:
* puppies
* adult dogs starting conditioning
* senior dogs who are either starting conditioning or who need a review of foundations
* dogs who are uncertain of conditioning equipment
* dogs who need a confidence boost
* dogs who have recently joined a family and are working on bonding
* dogs who need a mental challenge
* dogs who are struggling with advanced conditioning and need to rebuild foundation skills
* dogs who are sound and have NOT been recently ill or injured

I took the class to build our relationship…

In addition to wanting to improve my dog’s fitness, I took the class to build our relationship. Tess is my foster failed rescue who went through the trauma of being abandoned and having to fend for herself. She is a fearful dog. Working through the exercises has definitely improved our bond. It has also improved her confidence. She went from not wanting to go down the stairs to happily bouncing down them to get to the workout room. Tara’s feedback is great. She has offered suggestions on tweaking the exercise when Tess is too afraid to try it. She definitely encourages you to work at your dog’s speed.

D. Clarke

Is this the right course for you?

This course is perfect for people who:
* are new to canine conditioning, OR
* have a dog who is new to canine conditioning
* have time to work with their dogs a few times a week
* crave knowledge
* enjoy learning about both the "what" and the "why"
* are detail oriented, and like learning to do it right the first time
* appreciate detailed feedback.


How long is this course?

There will be six weeks of detailed, scaffolded instruction with feedback, and 12 weeks total access to all materials and online feedback.

What equipment will be used?

Recommended equipment includes 2 balance discs, 2 rubber pots, 2 balance pads, and 1 floor balance beam (4″ high for most dogs, 2″ high for small dogs or puppies). A wedge is also highly recommended, but not essential.  For puppies, the balance discs should be fairly firm with little inflation.  In terms of size, your dog should be able to stand square on the discs and pots, and sit on the balance pad. Household substitutions are welcome, especially for exceptionally large or exceptionally small dogs. You will receive a comprehensive list of alternative equipment suggestions during your welcome email, and there is always a lot of flexibility as long as the equipment as safe.

How does this course work?

You will be provided with a weekly lesson and 5-7 conditioning goals per week. Both the lesson document and the exercises will be posted on your personal Canine Home Exercises page. Each goal will be explained through text, video, and photos. In your “welcome email”, prior to the class beginning, you will be invited to a private Facebook group where you can post your videos for feedback for 12 weeks. This set up also allows you flexibility; you can start the course when you like, and finish when you like, as long as it’s within the twelve weeks. The software I use is designed to document progress and encourage accountability with several “bonus’ features unique to this course. If you have any further questions, please email me at

How and what type of feedback is provided?

Detailed feedback is incredibly important, and I work hard to make sure I can support you and your dog in every way possible. This course is all about knowledge and skill development; the goal is to bring together dogs and handlers with diverse skills and knowledge, and by the end of the course have them all experiencing the same level of success. I strongly encourage people to post each exercise at least once, even if you think your form is perfect – it’s always good to have confirmation. If everything is perfect, I’ll confirm it for you and you don’t need to post that specific exercise again. More often, I’ll provide next steps that may focus on your form, your dog’s form, the equipment type or placement, or anything else that may help you get the most out of the course, and your dog get the most out of the exercises. I do cover far more exercises than the average foundations class, so in order to make the most out of the feedback, and to ensure all participants have equal access to the same quality of feedback, I’ve put some feedback guidelines in place.

1. Feedback will always be received within 24 hours, with the exception of Sundays. Please wait until you have the feedback and can apply it before posting your next video – otherwise you’ll be making the same mistakes.

2. Please keep all videos to less than 90 seconds.

3. If I post “next steps”, that means I’d really love to see you repost for additional feedback. If there are no “next steps”, continue to include the exercises in your workouts, but please don’t repost them so that I can focus on the exercises that do need additional feedback.

4. I do take Sundays off, so if you post late Saturday night or Sunday, you will receive feedback on Monday.

5. There will occasionally be days that I’m not available to provide feedback – usually due to work commitments. If there is a day that I can’t provide feedback, you will be provided notice well in advance so you can post the day before instead.

What is the time commitment?

The format of the class allows for a very flexible time commitment. In general I encourage people to work with their dogs 3-4 days per week, in increments of 10-20 minutes. However, I have also had clients who can only spend 5 minutes working with their dogs twice a week, and they also have had good results. You need to do what works for your schedule, whether that’s 5 minutes every day, or 10 minutes twice a week. My only caution is to not become a “weekend warrior”; you will have greater success (and be more fair to your dog) if you work in short spurts.

What are the instructor's qualifications?

In addition to being a Certified Professional Canine Fitness Trainer and Canine Massage Therapist, I am also a teacher and a “tech junkie” who loves to figure out how technology can be effectively integrated to teach and guide people. I have trained dogs for over a decade, owned a performance dog training facility, competed in multiple dog sports, and I am the owner of Canine Fitness Innovations. My passion is helping people to help their dogs. For more information, you can click here see my answers to the #sixquestionchallenge so that you know #whoisworkingwithyourdog.

My vet recommended rehab. Would this course be a good option?

No – this course is not designed for dogs who have been injured or who have been ill. All dogs participating should be sound, and if there is any doubt, a veterinary check up is required. Instead, please talk to a CCRP or other certified rehabilitation practitioner.

…I am surprised by my own dog’s progress….

I liked the added material content in addition to the exercises. The photos where you identify concerns with other dogs and read through explanations really helped me to understand different issues and things to pay attention to with my own dog. Tara was very responsive any time something was posted which was greatly appreciated. I am surprised by my own dog’s progress and happily show people how much healthier she looks 12 weeks later. Lastly, had this course not been online, I would not have been able to participate and I am so happy to see this added online content. On to the next course!
Shelley Kirkland

Registration is now closed for the fall session of Building Strong Foundations. We hope you can join us in the spring of 2022!

To book a working spot, click HERE.

To book an auditing spot, click HERE.