Danette Johnston (CPDT-KA, CFFP, FDM, Owner, Dog’s Day Out) offers a comprehensive training program for animal shelter staff and volunteers. Rescue organizations can opt for the full 3-module program or set up 1-4 hour sessions on topics addressing the organization’s specific needs at the time. These can be done virtually and topics may include: Important Considerations for Puppies and Socialization, Leash Reactivity, Understanding Canine Body Language, Handling Techniques, Shelter Play Groups or Foster Needs. The cost includes a link to the recorded session for the rescue’s future use as needed.

Danette also offers consulting and training for dog day care facilities. Similar modules or modules specifically tailored for the day care needs are available.

The Shelter Training Program is composed of three, two-hour modules. The modules can be done separately or as a full program. The full program can be done on separate days or as a one-day event and the program/modules can be tailored to an organization’s specific needs. The participating shelter’s current shelter dogs are used for all demos and practicals when dogs are available.


  1. Get dogs adopted and keep them out! Goal #1 is always to get an animal out of the shelter system and keep return rates down. We do this by working with dogs on simple skills while in rescue in order for the dog to appeal to adopters (“show well”) as well as to set them up for greater success once they are adopted.
  1. Make life as pleasant (and productive) for the animal as possible while they are in the shelter. Thankfully, euthanasia rates in many areas are lower now but, because of that, dogs are spending more time in a shelter which can be stressful and behaviorally deteriorating for the dog. This longer stay mandates a greater need for enrichment programs but also give us an opportunity to work with the dog in order to make his forthcoming adoption successful.

MODULE #1 (2 hours): Reading Body Language and Understanding Canine Thought and Learning
This presentation is appropriate for EVERYONE working in the shelter, from veterinary staff to accounting! We encourage anyone working in or around the shelter environment to attend in this module.

  • Discussion on how dogs learn, management and theory specific to the shelter environment. LECTURE/POWERPOINT PRESENTATION. Example of topics here.
  • Discussion on Body Language including observing and interpreting shelter dogs’ body signals. LECTURE, POWERPOINT PRESENTATION + PRACTICAL
  • Optional: Small Dog Handling. POWERPOINT + PRACTICAL

MODULE #2 (2 hours): Training Techniques
This module is aimed at staff/volunteers working directly with the dogs including those who take them to off site events or have in foster care.

  • Basic operant training techniques: marking and reinforcing behaviors as well as how to use a clicker and/or verbal marker and how to use the marker to cue, capture and shape behaviors. LECTURE
  • How to teach simple focus and stationary cues when appropriate: Look, Touch, Sit, Down,Wait etc. Bonus cues: Drop, Leave it, Go to Mat. PRACTICAL
  • Loose Leash Walking/Leash Greetings. LECTURE + PRACTICAL
  • Desensitization and Counterconditioning
  • Discussion on how we can increase adoptability by reinforcing polite greetings and behaviors.

MODULE #3 (2 hours): Improving Animal Welfare, Enrichment
This module is appropriate for anyone working in the shelter with either cats or dogs or anyone interested in enrichment ideas for their own pets at home!

  • How we can offer animals choice and control in the shelter setting using simple changes in housing, interactions and husbandry. LECTURE & PRACTICAL
  • Kennel enrichment including the use of (and ideas for) puzzle toys, creative feeding, crate and nose work games. Cats too! LECTURE + PRACTICAL
  • Dog/Dog Introductions, play groups and appropriate canine play. LECTURE + PRACTICAL

A comprehensive BEHAVIOR.MANUAL.CONTENTS is also available for purchase.


Reactive ReDo (working with reactive dogs)
Barks & Babes (preparing dog for baby)
Be a Tree (for children 5-11 years old)
Field Trip and Foster Programs

Outlines and more detailed information for the three modules available on request.

PRICES available on request.