FF280: Empowerment

Instructor: Julie Daniels

Course Details


NOTE:  There will be no refunds in this class (see last paragraph).

A Course for Expanding your dog's Personal Power

Can your dog use some help with the physical and mental challenges of your favorite sport? Would you like for your dog to enjoy more activities with you? Would you like for your dog to meet new environments and novel stimuli with tail wagging and head held high?

This class will help your dog choose to expand his world.

Does your dog enjoy meeting new challenges? Does he need a moment to size up the effort, or does he charge in? Does he show curiosity and then need help with his coordination or his confidence? Does he investigate a physical skill with an open mind? Does he enjoy himself when he falls off the ball or the toy falls down with a crash? Does he do well with noise and balance and height and motion and pressure and space?

There are many dogs who have learned to tolerate the challenges of their sport, but they have not learned to love them. There is a world of difference between Tolerance and Empowerment!

We will use the concept of “Shaping for Demand” to help your dog start using each of our games to make you notice and make you pay. A new mindset is possible!

The right kind of exposure to new elements of difficulty can make all the difference in your dog's future success. And your dog's success with one activity makes it easier for him to succeed with other activities. Your dog will make physical and mental leaps of progress in this class!

Any age or size or breed of dog can benefit from the games we will play in Empowerment. Every game will be adapted for a dog who comes into the class with more confidence or less confidence. We can enjoy any baseline level of ability. We are only here to make personal progress.

We will build brain power and personal power. We will enhance your dog's self reliance and sense of fun. We will help him enjoy going over, under, around, and through all sorts of contraptions. We will be making noise and problem solving in our safe spaces and then out in the real world.

You will not need much space and you will not need fancy equipment. This is a terrific winter project. We will be dealing in concepts, not just in obstacles. So you will be able to create homemade substitutes for any of the class obstacles, and the more creative the better! Creativity challenges will be part of the course discussions!

I use everything from bakeware to plastic bags and scrap materials of all kinds in my games for building confidence and coordination. I can think of a way to get into your dog's head with a start point, and from there we will develop a plan. We are on a mission to create dogs who think that the unexpected in life is FUN!

FDSA Note:  For those who are unaware, the instructor for this class, Julie Daniels, is aggressively fighting Stage 4 cancer.  At the same time, she continues to work and share her knowledge of “all things dog” through her classes here at FDSA, and for that we are extremely grateful.

Before enrolling in this class, please note that there are no refunds under any circumstances even if due to instructor illness.  Please also know that every penny of your enrollment fee goes directly to Julie, so if you enroll at bronze for $65, then Julie will receive that $65 to assist with her significant, medical expenses.  FDSA and Julie are extremely grateful for your support and understanding at this time.  



There are no scheduled sessions for this class at this time. We update our schedule frequently, so please subscribe to our mailing list for notifications.

Gold level registration was by lottery. Registration for silver and bronze levels will begin at 10:30 AM PST.

Enrollment limits: 10 gold, 10 silver, unlimited bronze. If you are interested in a bronze level spot you can sign up any time during the registration period.


EMPOWERMENT, by Julie Daniels






Tolerance vs Empowerment

Games for Substrates

Push Games

Inclines: Up and Down

Do You Like Surprises?

Context Cues: Happy Place is Real

The Handler's Role in Body and Mind




The Broccoli Principle: Push-Back Games

Shaping for Demand

Causing Noise

The Pause as a Major Player

More Substrates

Inclines: Cross Gradient and Other Challenges

Using Arousal States




The Curiosity Principle: Visual Games

Games for Between, Over and Under

Games for Balance

Games for Combining Substrates and Noise

Counter Conditioning

Habituation vs Sensitization




The Sardine Principle: Space Games

Games for Take Your Place

Games for Hold Your Place

Games for Combining Balance and Noise

Using Rudeness, and Using Tact

Relief of Pressure – Using the Quadrant of Negative Reinforcement




The Find-It Principle: Location Games for Things and Sounds

Games for Dropping and Spilling

Games for Combining Stimuli

Finding and Nurturing the Dog's Competitive Spirit

Using Noise: Apps and Friends and Strangers

Using and Appreciating the Post-Reinforcement Pause




The Pressure Principle: Weight of the World

Games for Falling and Sliding

Games for Combining Your Easy with Your Difficult

Reward the Effort, Reward the Question

The Contrast Effect Revisited

The Handler's Role Going Forward

Keeping Your Dog Open: Body, Mind, and Heart


Prerequisites and Equipment

There are no prerequisites for Empowerment!  Dogs of all ages, sizes, and breeds are invited.  Any baseline level of confidence and stability is welcome in this class.  This is a great class for dogs who will be service dogs or search and rescue dogs or police dogs, competition sport dogs, and, as always first and foremost, family pets who will be sharing our complicated modern lives.

This course will benefit from my in-person sessions, which will include babies and adult dogs, dogs with confidence issues, dogs with general anxiety issues, reactive dogs, and dogs with very specific problems concerning noise, balance, space, environment, or performance.  I tried to cover all the bases!

If you have no issues, why not keep it that way!  During the course you will probably find something that can use extra attention in order to keep your dog confident and stable.  We will strive to make you and your dog ready for any sort of challenge which will present in your sport or your life as you go forward.


There will not be a need for any fancy equipment, but you will be asked to come up with things that move and look strange and go bump in the night!  All sorts of creative use of items will be encouraged, and a contest will be run to reward the utmost in creativity of materials.

You will benefit from a noise app on your phone, but you can create plenty of noises without that aid.  You will benefit from a plank of about six feet or longer.  You will be asked to raid your kitchen for metal and plastic items.  I am a big fan of metal pans and bowls, as well as metal dog food bowls.  If you do not have a metal food bowl you should buy or borrow one and start feeding your dog from it.


Please contact the instructor for more information. 


Course Testimonials

Hi Julie, I followed this class as a bronze and am very appreciative that your games, lectures and comments were well thought out, thorough and clear. Reading the communication between you and the golds were always enlightening. Your questions to the owners starting them on their way to becoming thinking trainers is huge. I appreciate learning how to be watchful and thoughtful of my dogs so we continue to learn well after the class is over. This sets us up for success throughout the life of the dog. This was my first experience watching you in action, I am mightily impressed and look forward to working with you in the future.            

At bronze level I learned a lot of great things and much needed basic things that are so powerful! Things clicked! Thank you so much!! It was very exciting and heartwarming to go thru the games and see my dog who tolerates or walks off becoming empowered. We will keep these games up so we will be ready for Part two. I really enjoyed this class and your lectures and the forums.            

Julie is so completely awesome! This is the first gold level class I've taken from her. and she is so upbeat and encouraging! I honestly do not think I would have been able to progress with my dog if I had not taken this class. I was completely stuck. Getting a gold spot was invaluable and I will practice the games with all my dogs for the rest of my life.          

Julie, this is my 4th class with you. I just love the games in this class. They are really what we needed. Renny's behavior at trials use to really puzzle me. I always wondered what I was failing to do. This class has really enabled me to see the issues clearly and provided a correct path. I feel much more in tune with her. Everything came into focus for me. This is priceless. The lectures were easy to understand and provided just the right amount of information. The associated videos clearly showed how to play the games. I hope to see a follow-on course for Empowerment at some point in the future.           

Empowerment: An absolutely fantastic course. Thank you!!! I felt we were experiencing training at the heart of the matter. This is basic to EVERYTHING as far as I’m concerned…sports, personal interaction with our dogs, behavior, daily living. It is certainly key for me and my dogs. This is what I was searching for when I found Fenzi Academy. Courses I would love to take if they were offered: Contacts…empowered learning of each contact obstacle. I have taken most of your Fenzi Academy courses, including Foundation See Saw (where I first saw empowered learning for a specific obstacle). I would like to learn how to train all the contacts (especially A frame and Dog Walk) with your methods and games. I would love to see more empowerment courses specifically directed toward agility performance, even toward specific obstacles was true for Weaves and Teeter. Speed Em Up…games to interest, arouse and speed up low-drive or low-confidence dogs.          

Julie is amazing. Her level of committment to every student (at every level of training and understanding) is incredible. The content was great. Julie included a lot of games and it was easy to pick and choose which ones were "right" for my dog at the time. Later, when I make more progress I can choose to progress with other games that she introduced as well.         

Thanks Julie! You're the best!!! You are so inspiring. My dogs and I are having so much fun together with your games. I dropped my notebook on my sensitive girl's head tonight by mistake and she gave me the "where's my treat" look instead of running away! And we haven't even played the week 6 pressure games yet. I'm looking forward to Creating the Monster!