Shelter Training Program

Danette Johnston (CPDT-KA, Owner, Dog’s Day Out) offers a comprehensive training program for animal shelter staff and volunteers.

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 good (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):

  • 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

MODULE #2 (2 hours)

  • 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: Look, Touch, Sit, Down, Wait, Stay. Bonus cues: Drop, Leave it, Go to Mat. PRACTICAL
  • Discussion on how we can increase adoptability by reinforcing polite greetings and behaviors.

MODULE #3 (2 hours)

  • 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 and appropriate canine play. LECTURE + PRACTICAL



Difficult (reactive) Dog

Barks & Babes (preparing dog for baby)

Be a Tree (for children 5-11 years old)

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

PRICES and REFERENCES available on request.