Class | FE140: Engagement

The question we ask the dog will always be the same: Do you care enough about what we do together to ask for interaction?

Because engagement is easily turned to work, we can also ask: Will you ask to work with me at home? At a park? At the car wash? Can you interact with me on grass and on cement? When that dog is watching you? Can you interact with me in a playful fashion without specific cues to follow, simply to enjoy the act of engaging with me?

And for the human: Do you know how to engage your dog in a playful and relaxed fashion? Can you respond to your dog’s cues and then grow the interaction from simple eye contact to movement? Can you recognize when the environment will win? Do you understand acclimation, engagement, opportunity costs, conditioned emotional responses, and how to ask without begging?

This class will look at engagement in a number of ways:

– Engagement as an important element within the relationship for life (this is heavily emphasized in play class).
– Engagement as lifestyle (paying attention to your dog and your dog paying attention to you is what gives the basis of connected, enthusiastic, engaged work).
– Engagement builds mutual enjoyment, and mutual enjoyment builds engagement. And to a large extent, this is both trained (to both parties) and simply a natural extension of spending time with another being.

There is no real way to differentiate Focus Training from Engagement Training, but for the purposes of this course, we’ll be looking for active and play/movement-based interaction between dog and handler over classic focus (which can be very calm and task oriented rather than playful).

If you want a beautiful display of teamwork and joy, then a basic understanding of the cues or exercises for your sport will not be enough; you will need engagement. Join this class to develop a deep understanding of this fascinating topic!

Note: A ‘sample lecture’ is available – click here to see it on the FDSA website!


Aug 01 2018 - Sep 14 2018


$65 bronze; $130 Silver; $260 Gold

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  1. Corie Hamer

    HI, I am training my neighbor’s border collie for agility. I trained with a trainer my own mixed breed dog for agility and am now tackling this very difficult and different new training situation. I have been “playing” /training this neighbor’s dog since it was 12 weeks old (I’ve never trained a puppy before). The agility work is coming along fine. The engagement/focus with this dog is a disaster when we go to competitions or fun matches. Your class in engagement was recommended to me. I spend about an hour (getting, returning and training) each day with this dog that lives 5 houses down the street from me. Is the engagement class still open? Would it help me? Can I sign up on the bronze level? Will it be offered again or reviewed somehow that I could learn from? This border collie loves to chase it’s neighbor dogs up and down it’s fence lines when no one is around. Very difficult to control. Owner has used ecollar with some success, but not consistent. This border collie gets overly excited when I train my dog and I have to put her in an enclosed sound proof space to get her to relax while I train my dog.

    • Denise Fenzi

      yes, the class will help you and yes, you can sign up now. It sounds like a lot of different stuff is going on, and if you take a variety of classes with FDSA then, over time, you will get better. But that is a good place to start.

  2. Samantha

    is it too late to join? and do we have permanent access to the resources?


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