FE101: Relationship Building Through Play

Posted in Core Courses

Intructor: Denise Fenzi

Course Details

For some people - and dogs - play comes naturally. But did you know that good play is more than simply WANTING to interact with your dog? Good play requires the ability to engage with your canine companion on a level that taps into his natural interests, and this ability is one part art and one part mechanical skills. This class will teach you both of these elements. 

We'll discuss the correct presentation of toys, learning how to make cookies into an event, and understanding how to interact with your dog in the way that he likes best. It takes time and effort to learn your dog, to know what to do, when to do it, and when to STOP doing it. Taking this time is well worth the effort because the end result will be a dog who naturally looks to you for both direction and entertainment.

This class will introduce one form of play at a time.  With over 70 videos featuring a variety of breeds, sizes of dogs, and handlers, you're sure to find the information you need to form a fun and satisfying play relationship with your individual dog!

Special note: This class will end on November 9th, two days earlier than the schoolwide ending date of Nov 11th.


Next session starts: April 1, 2017
Registration starts: March 22, 2017
Registration ends: April 15, 2017

Available as prerequisite purchase at this time.



Lecture #1: Introduction to Play (Toy, Food, and Personal)

Lecture #2: Baseline Video

Lecture #3: Toy Play

Lecture #4: Personal Play

Lecture #5: Video Samples of Personal Play

Lecture #6: My Dog is Biting Me!

Lecture #7: Frontal Pressure

Lecture #8: Tension vs. Movement

Lecture #9: Food Play

Lecture #10: Pressure

Lecture #11: Play with Children

Lecture #12: Combined Play

Lecture #13: Aggression vs. Play

Lecture #14 Understanding Life Rewards

Prerequisites and Equipment

Prerequisites: Open to all

Equipment needed (working participants only):   A range of toys for tug/ball play, treats, video camera/access to YouTube upload

Space required (working participants only): “Ideal” space is open with good footing. “Minimum” space is any bedroom or living room sized area with good footing.

Course Testimonials


Many of us in the class commented in our introductions that we had forgotten to play a long time ago. And now we are going to learn to play with our dogs? Our early videos were awkward, funny, embarrassing, sweet. We got better. It turns out that there is a lot of technique and skill to play and engagement. Because I suffered an injury before the class, Denise let my husband participate and film as well. I did the softer, easier stuff. He did tug and chase. Our Aussie, Heidi, had always been a bit wary of the man of the house, and we had to watch her. The Play class changed everything. Now she watches him adoringly or follows him hoping to initiate their special games. It is wonderful to watch. Amy Cook recommended in the Bogeyman class that we take Play to help in reactivity rehab. It works. We have moved Play from our house to the wider world where we are now able to keep her more relaxed and playing in the face of upsetting triggers. We have a ways to go in learning this skill but we have added it to our daily routine. In fact, Heidi insists!

Relationship Building Through Play class provided me some tears of joy insights as to how lucky we are to have our dogs, what special little individuals they are, and a great reminder that they don't know if they get a ribbon or trophy, that is all human agenda. I want to be more like them instead of making them more like me! Thank you FDSA. Dawn S.

Relation Building through Play was an absolutely awesome course, I can't believe how much progress we have been able to make in such a short time with all the great help from Denise. Denise clearly displays very extensive knowledge & expertise. Lilly and I have really enjoyed this class & I think it has really helped to strengthen our relationship and build confidence. Melita R
Building Relationship Through Play, as taught by Denise Fenzi, brings a level of professionalism to teaching an often misunderunderstood subject. Denise's attentive, compassionate, active teaching style created a classroom learning environment which I have rarely encountered in any class. One of immense safety and trust. It is clear that Denise is an expert in the subject matter. Equally important is Denise's clear commitment to making the learning environment safe for the students. Humans and dogs. Which is the only way real learning can occur.            
The Building Relationship through Play class has changed how Colbie and I interact. I understand what she needs from me to have fun with me and she understands that she doesn't need to worry and she can just enjoy playing. Thanks, Denise! Marta Coursey and Colbie      
My golden, Ted, and I enjoyed this class. Ted loves to play and he has a crush on Denise, whenever I play one of her videos he pops up from the floor and tries to find her. Ted can even play tug at agility class now. The other dogs are very jealous.      
I love so many things about this course. I love that it's helped expand my definition of what play can entail; I love that it's helped me consider how to approach my dog in a way that she can read as playful rather than confrontational. The emphasis on observing and imitating our dogs has helped me do my favorite thing--get inside her head, and, you know, build a relationship where we can be a team. No criticisms or suggestions, I loved everything about it.              
We have been students since June of 14 and we are loving it. What a great group of people - instructors and students both. I have taken 2 classes at the gold level. With both, the instructors have gone above and beyond to learn about and help train to my dogs specific issues. Thanks and I'll be back. Tom and Cody T.              
Relationship Building Through Play class was everything I hoped for when I signed up. I believe in the power of play after taking several other FDSA classes that used it as a tool, but I felt my play skills with my dog were lacking. Now through this class I have gained the skills to build a better relationship with my dog, offer new methods of reinforcement, and utilize play in my other training. Kara K.              
I have just finished the 'Relationship Building through Play' course. I have found the course materials and instructors response absolutely invaluble as I have a low motivated dog who doesnt really play. So much has come together through doing this course. I feel I understand my dog far better and am better equipped to deepen our relationship through the kind of play which suits her drive and temperament. Would thoroughly recommend the course, so much fun ! FP