Dogs Playing for Life (DPFL) is a program rooted in the notion that a dog’s natural instinct is to PLAY.

The desire to play does not have to be
taught to or learned by most canines. Playing is a dog’s most natural form of positive interaction and communication with both humans and fellow canines. A dog at play provides the best opportunity to peer inside the canine soul and explore who the dog really is.

DPFL is an innovative training program that was founded by professional trainer Aimee Sadler. The Program demonstrates both the practical efficiencies of play groups for the rescue organization, as well as the emotional and behavioral benefits for the animals.

Play groups have proven to be a critical enrichment and assessment tool for shelters.

The curriculum, taught by Sadler and a visiting DPFL Team, usually involves multiple days of on-site training for shelter staff and volunteers, including a classroom presentation for participants, the demonstration of safe-handling techniques, and the fundamentals of successful play group experiences for all involved.

Safety protocols for both people and animals are emphasized to ensure that play groups bring out the best in shelter dogs, with the least possible risk of injury or the spread of infection. The DPFL staff also provides post-visit consultation when needed to monitor progress, answer staff questions, and address implementation challenges.


“… this is the most progressive behavior program in sheltering”.

Dr. Pamela Reid, Ph.D CAAB

Anti-Cruelty Behavior Team , ASPCA Rehabilitation Center