Denise Fenzi has competed in a wide range of dog sports – titling dogs in obedience (AKC and UKC), tracking (AKC and schutzhund), schutzhund (USA), mondioring (MRSA), herding (AKC), conformation (AKC), and agility (AKC). She is best known for her flashy and precise obedience work – as demonstrated by two AKC OTCH dogs and perfect scores in both schutzhund and Mondio ringsport obedience.
While a successful competitor, Denise's real passion lies in training dogs and solving the problems that her own dogs and her student’s dogs present. She is a recognized expert in developing drive, motivation, and focus in competition dogs, and is known internationally as an engaging speaker and an expert in no force training for sport dogs. She has consistently demonstrated the ability to train and compete with dogs using motivational methods in sports where compulsion is the norm.
In addition to training and speaking, Denise is a prolific writer. You can find her at www.denisefenzi.com where she maintains an active blog on all things related to dog training. She is also an active writer on facebook; follow her there to learn more about her range of interests in addition to dog training. Denise and Deb Jones have recently finished a four book series, "Dog Sports Skills" which has recieved widespread acclain in the dog sports community. In addition, she has written additional books on her own, including "Train the Dog in Front of You", "Beyond the Back Yard; Train Your Dog to Listen Anytime, Anywhere!" and, for the younger audience, "Blogger Dog, Brito!" Several of these books have won Maxwell awards for Best Training and Behavior book from the Dog Writers of America.
Denise thoughtfully and persistently works to break down the barriers that prevent people from obtaining a truly interactive and mutually enjoyable sport relationship with their dogs. Fenzi Academy is the culmination of her efforts as a forward step in providing progressive information to any trainer who wishes to learn.
Current and Upcoming classes
- FE395: The Art of Training: Developing Confidence and Flow starting on October 1, 2017
- FE505: The Book: Train the dog in front of you! starting on October 1, 2017
- FE101: Relationship Building Through Play starting on December 1, 2017
- FE404: The Art of Recovery: Handling Errors in Training starting on December 1, 2017
- FE140: Engagement starting on February 1, 2018
- OB170: Bridging the Gap - Reducing Reinforcers, Proofing and Generalization starting on February 1, 2018
Self Study Classes - lectures available for purchase
- OB260: Advanced Confidence Building for the Obedience and Rally Ring taught by Denise Fenzi
- OB300: Heeling Games taught by Denise Fenzi
- OB310: Ob-ility taught by Denise Fenzi
- OB400: Advanced Heeling and Problem Solving taught by Denise Fenzi
- FE260: I’m just little! Foundation skills for smaller competition dogs taught by Denise Fenzi
Have a question about an upcoming course taught by Denise? 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.
Whether or not you plan on competing with your dog but especially if you are, this clsss is vital. Really understanding engagement and how to get it can make a difference between a stressed dog or a relaxed dog. I've been a student of Fenzi classes for a while so when a trainer I highly respect mentioned this class in passing, I signed up for bronze level. Worth repeating at a Gold. Linda B
I have loved every course I've taken with Fenzi Academy. I'm delighted to feel my relationship with my dog slowly changing as I work through the course material in Engagement. The most valuable thing I've learned is the patience to allow my dog to show me how he likes to interact with me and the skills to observe and match his energy. I've learned it's fine to work at our own pace, free of the pressure to perform like someone else's dog. I feel confident going forward to enjoy my dog in a mutually respectful relationship. Barb B
I took the class at Gold and learned a lot from the feedback specific to me and my dog. Denise doesn't take a cookie cutter approach to training but finds just the right pace and focus for every team she is working with, setting dog and handler up for success. There is a ton of information in the lectures and videos - enough to keep students busy training even after class has ended.
This has been the most amazing class. Before the class started I was so impressed by the testimonials that I really wanted to see what "engagement" was all about. I have to admit, that given that I started with a dog who is very cooperative and easy to train, I wasn't sure if I would get that much out of this class. Boy, was I wrong! The feedback and what I learned in the first week alone would have made the class more than worthwhile! And what a fun trip it has been for me and my dog! Someone else in the class commented that she didn't think her very strong relationship with her dog could be improved upon, but that it was even stronger thanks to this class, and I totally agree. I see a difference in that my dog is following me around the house, not wanting to miss out on any fun engagement. Even her toy play, which was fairly limited, has greatly improved. I've learned "engagement", but I've also learned how to best play with my dog! I have been amazed at Denise's perception and her advice to each of the Golds. The dogs in class were so different, all with different personalities and in need of very different paths to the goal of engagement.
I was placing too much pressure on my dog and he was starting to shut down in Agility. I knew I needed to make a change, and learning engagement stages was just what we needed. I feel like Quinn trusts me more during training and this will enable us to make much more progress than when I was "begging" him to work with me. Khris E.
My dog likes agility, but hates obedience because he thinks it's boring"....a common refrain from dog sport enthusiasts. I would tell that dog to check in with the recent graduates from Fenzi Academy's Obility class! The flies, the thrus, the broad jumps and the glove exercises had each dog running happily with their handlers, barking with joy, and learning the rudiments of advanced competition obedience with fun and play....some would argue it was just as much fun as agility!
Denise makes every student feel special. She has a wonderful positive attitude and provides precise, detailed critiques that encourage success. The course is more than a series of classes....it is the basis of transformation of dog + handler into a team, and building upon the skills that create and nurture that relationship. Thanks, Denise ! Ana C.
We have no plans for competitions but we do love working, playing and having the most fun we can have strengthening our relationship. This course (Ob-ility 1) supplied fun ideas for building on our strong foundation. Denise's enthusiasm is contagious, her videos and descriptions / lectures were easy to follow! Tracy R.
My first time of enrolment with Fenzi Academy with two rescue hounds, beagle and a harrier. As bronze participants and novice backyard training partners, I found that myself and both dogs achieved each outcome successfully. With great concise guidance from Denise Fenzi. This style of training suited both dogs as they continually worked with great focus. This has been such a rewarding experience. Thank you for sharing. We will continue on learning as silver or gold candidates. Julie E.
Taking a course with Denise has given me a different perspective on training.....she pushes you to take responsibility as a handler and this strengthens the bond between you and your dog. Priceless. Heather L
OB101: RELATIONSHIP BUILDING THROUGH PLAY
When I signed up for the Play class, I was hoping to learn how to improve my technical skills and fan the flame when my girl offered play behaviors. I got all that and much more. I learned new ways to engage in play, how to use food, toys and myself effectively-- and got insight into how play relates to my working relationship with my dog. Worth every penny, and then some.
I loved the Relationship/Play class! There was so much to learn. It was great watching all of the instructor's videos, of course, but watching the students with their dogs was really cool. It was neat to see some of the dogs starting to understand what their owner was asking for. It was also helpful to see all the different play styles, the owners and the dogs. I feel like I've been able to implement quite a few of the techniques I learned through the class with my own dogs. C.K.
I loved, loved, loved this course. Play had been an under-represented tool in my reward regime. Now all my dogs are eagerly engaging in play - whether with food, toy or "just" me. This course taught me to become very aware of how each individual dog likes to play and to tailor my play and my expectations to each dog. It has made my relationships with my dogs stronger and more joyful. What a gift!! Thank you Denise for your excellent courses. Sarah G
The class was very well organized. It identified what issue was going to be addressed each week, why, and provided informative videos to see what the activities/skills looked like. Denise gave excellent feedback; I loved that she identified behavior at specific times on the student videos and said when something worked well as well as made suggestions for when it didn't or could be improved. She also took care to understand the dog's temperament and interactive style, encouraging the student to do things that were reinforcing to both the handler and the dog. Hers was not a cookie-cutter approach but focused on skills that enhanced the handler's relationship with his/her dog. I learned a lot and have had fun doing the activities on my own with my dog. In only a few weeks I can see that she is able to play more readily and comfortably in new environments which in turn enhances her focus and engagement in these contexts. Christine G.
The play class was amazing! I took it hoping that it would help me build a stronger relationship with my recently adopted 2 year old BC rescue, which it absolutely did. The added bonus is that I learned to play with my 9 yr old girl who has never been particularly playful. Denise has an amazing ability to read the dogs from the videos and really broke down the steps to help me learn how to have more fun with my dog. This class was a wonderful class!
OB170: BRIDGING THE GAP
Bridging the Gap was a deep dive into all of the things about being successful in trial prep that I didn't even know I needed to do. I'm training my first competition dog and there is nothing like the information and training that I'm getting from FDSA. Thank you for this opportunity! Stacy B.
To see the difference in Jasper from when we first started is astronomical. To be able to follow all the stages of lectures and to be able to see both dogs & person's learning curve is also great. (Even if initially I thought - I may not be able to do this.) We may not be back in the ring yet - but definitely a step closer and I am just having so much fun learning. A very big thank you to Denise. Your support and feed back has been great. Enjoying the journey immensely. Kathryn H
Wow and Brilliant are two words that quickly come to my mind regarding Bridging the Gap course. Not only have I noticed such a positive change in Jazz's attitude but so have others. I found all the lectures very well explained and nicely supported by videos. Not only was the lecture content great but how the lectures built on one another and wove together was outstanding. The lectures and Denise's clear comments on videos and replies to questions made me feel like I had my own personal trainer on site. I found Denise to always be so positive, kind and supportive in response to everyone's videos and questions. And such a sense of humour :) I certainly would recommend this course to others!!! THANK YOU for everything Denise! Judy B
This course is chock-a-block full of information. I think I could revisit the lectures for the remainder of the year and still find more points that I missed the first (and second and third!) times through. I wish I had known all of this when I competed in obedience (I now focus on agility) - it would have made trialling a lot more enjoyable for me and my dogs! That said, it has been in invaluable course for my young agility dog to really help her to focus on me and what WE are doing in the ring (and ignore the "scary" judge and stewards). Sarah G
I took Bridging the Gap with my very green Beagle, Oliver at the bronze level. The BTG class has completely changed the way that I train. It has been such a wonderful experience for me. I am doing more foundation work with Oliver and focusing more on how to ready him for competition. I have never done this type of work with my dogs and can't figure out why! It has been a blessing. I've done two Rally O run throughs at a new building with Oliver since taking BTG. He was performing like a champ! He's gotten so much attention because he is a Beagle with stellar focus and enthusiasm. The classes have helped bring that out in him. I'm also in the Play class which has changed my methods as well. I had trouble getting Oliver to play previously. However, he was playing within moments of trying the lessons. The online classes have given me fantastic tools to add to my training toolbox. I am looking forward to taking more classes in the future!
OB200 - Precision Heeling
This course works wonders! As always it really pays to lay a solid foundation. Since we are taking our time to do just that we're not quiet finished yet but my dog and I have made HUGE progress so far. Actually I, would never have believed that I could teach her to use such a small platform. Result/Bonus: Excellent hind leg awareness! And from here she seems to take everything in strides. So much fun for both of us. This course will also improve handler skills - what an eye opener. I would recommend it to anyone - even if you never plan to enter a ring. It's just so good for your dog and improves dramatically your relationship with your dog as a team. This course covered everything I was looking for and more :-)))
What I have learned in this course is nothing short of phenomenal. I am an experienced self taught exhibitor who has put many obedience and agility titles on my dogs over the last 20 years or so, but I am amazed at what I have learned just from this class. My little guy now understands where he is supposed to be, and knows how to get there. He understands how to move his rear., and it was so simple to teach him with the methods presented in the class. I am still astounded at the results. Thank you! Linda B.
This class exceeded my highest expectations. Each lecture was explained in the utmost detail and very easy to follow. The class taught me how to break heeling down into smaller increments, reward appropriately and set myself and the dog up to succeed. The progress we made in this six weeks was astonishing. This method doesn't just work for one specific type of dog. I have 4 dogs with varying personalities who are all using the method and are at different levels of their training "career." Colleen M.
I waited for a long time for Precision Heeling to be offered, and it was worth the wait! Even though I was at the bronze level, I learned a ton! The videos are worth the tuition. Denise does a great job breaking things down into small steps. Most classes I've taken in person do not use all positive reinforcement and/or they say, 'okay, now let's work on heeling' as if it were one skill. The way Denise broke it down into MANY steps really helped me get it. I also liked the disclaimer that not everyone would get through all the steps, and that it was fine to move at your own pace. Some of the steps were very easy for us, and others were more difficult. It was wonderful that Denise offered videos of what needed to be done at a distance and close up. I never felt like "there is no way we'll be able to do that." Instead, the videos were very precise and reviewing them (many times) really helped me learn. I will keep working on the skills in the class. I really believe my confidence, success, and scores in the ring will be improved based on just this class. Now I have to decide what to take next. Deb S.
OB300: HEELING GAMES
This is the first online class I have taken. Although I took it at the bronze level, I was amazed at how much I got out of it and couldn't wait to try the exercises and share them with my training partners. Three of us were walking around a city park (without our dogs) to the metronome. I sure any one who saw us thought we were nuts:-)) My dog got his last two CDX legs about two weeks after class started with 197 1/2 and 198. I am sure his scores were in part due to this class (heeling games)!.-- as with his first leg he was really laggy and most of the points lost were due to heeling. It was also really fun to watch the gold teams. I know they felt a little self conscious at first ( I would), but everyone of them were awesome! CK M.
The improvement in the teams in just 5 weeks is heart warming. Especially those that were really struggling, bashful, etc. It brings tears to your eyes to see how much they have accomplished AND the confidence they have in themselves and their dog. Even following at bronze level I can tell a noticeable difference in my confidence in heeling games so that I can support my dog now. HIGHLY recommend the class!! Melissa C.
I think that dogs everywhere will be signing their handlers up for this course.... games make the learning fun- and who doesn't need more fun in their life?? This was a great course, and it was wonderful to see my dog "come alive" when we started incorporating fun and games into our heeling practice! Thanks for all of the great new training ideas! Kathy V.
As an inexperienced handler with little competition experience, I was nervous. There was no need to worry. Denise accepts her students, canine and human, right where they are. She is very clear that you don’t have to keep up, make comparisons or master it all in the 6 week session. Her feedback is prompt, frequent and right to the point. As she discusses areas that need work, she is encouraging and reinforcing. I always felt like wagging my tail and working harder after every interchange. Getting to know and watch the other students is fun and instructive. I am looking forward to taking classes regularly through the Fenzi Academy. And I highly recommend that you go for the gold! Sandy H.
My goal in this class was to continue teaching heeling to a very young dog in a way that would be fun. I didn't expect to improve his precision, although I wound up doing that, but I wanted to keep the energetic "Oh Wow!" attitude. I not only did that, he is even more engaged and I was able to begin convincing my older dog that heeling isn't so bad after all! I especially liked Denise's emphasis that not all games are for all dogs. Find the ones your dog likes, and go with it. After so many "one size fits all" trainers that I have been associated with, this was wonderful to hear. Patti H.
ADVANCED HEELING AND PROBLEM SOLVING
Denise is an incredibly knowledgeable instructor and dog training. In conveying her thoughts, she is thorough and easy to understand. Her videos for this course were incredibly helpful and extensive. I am thrilled to have the Library which I will be reviewing regularly. Sandra G.
This was a great 3 part heeling series. I just can't say enough good things about it! The level of feedback was exceptional - and unmatched with traditional live classes. The Skill Lists are phenomenal - with clear and thorough explanations that will last a lifetime! Julie S
Bronze Level I knew as soon as I logged in for the first time that this course would be a step above my other online experiences. At first glance, the lectures were comprehensive and well written. Videos succinctly demonstrated each training scenario, no extra fluff. Just looking at the lectures alone, I've never seen a more comprehensive heeling resource. Lectures contain the perfect amount of detail to explain, encourage comprehension and create those wonderful "ah-ha" moments. I'm not exaggerating here, Denise has a gift. I was fortunate to audit a very talented and hardworking class of students in the June-July 2014 session. How wonderful that these dogs represented a slew of different breeds, motivation levels, and experience. Denise addressed each team individually and constructively and the improvements were tremendous. The homework videos, in combination with Denise's lectures, could easily be published as a DVD series as among all the teams, nearly all the concepts addressed in lecture were covered in homework, allowing everyone to see the cause and effect of Denise's advice. I wish I had taken a baseline video of my own young dog before auditing this course. I have been working on my own homework and am noticing huge improvements in my own dog's work, just from following advice in the lectures and observing the cause and effect of all the strategies Denise outlined for us. My only wish for this course is that the forums would remain viewable after the end of the course. Instead, I will spend the next few days re-reading all the homework threads and watching the videos. Chelsey
It is amazing to realize that Internet training isn't "second best". The success of training through video and critiques and lectures is nothing short of amazing. Thank you for bringing this quality of instruction to everyone, regardless of their geographical location
OB260 – ADVANCED CONFIDENCE BUILDING FOR THE RING
GOLD:Many of use struggle to keep our dogs engaged in a ring situation; as a Gold Participant of this group based course I found it extremely useful to have a structured framework to work on building ring confidence with training partners. Although our dogs had very different skill levels we were able to adapt the sessions to suit them all and gain valuable feedback on both our own work and the issues presented by other participants. Thank you Denise for this Excellent course. Maggie H
GOLD:I'm very glad to have done this course as a member of Team Oz. We had a blast and although I had trepidations about my 9 month old Aussie being too young, I'm happy to say I was wrong and it was perfect timing. We plan to keep the group going as it was so helpful. Deb H
BRONZE:I loved the Advanced Ring Confidence class and will be referring to it a lot in the future. The only "however" I have is that the Gold participants were too good :-) so fewer mistakes to learn from. My dog made up for that, however :-) . I am finding that all of the courses I have taken have meshed so well together.