Shelter Dog Training Tips

Weave training into the daily shelter routine


Ask dogs to work for everything

Place reminders on food dispensers or small buckets, hang on kennels and fill with small treats or kibble. If you have ant problems, you may want to experiment with using empty plastic peanut butter jars with a tight fitting lid.


Meant to encourage good manners at the kennel front. Kenneled dogs are asked to offer a ‘Sit’ and eye contact before leaving the kennel, before going through any doorway in the shelter, before receiving their meals, and before going back inside their kennel after a walk. Visitors are impressed with these simple manners, and dog shoppers are especially taken with engaging eye contact. Buy 'Sit Reward' Sticker HERE.


Kennels are nicer for all when barking is kept to a minimum. Please ask staff/volunteers to participate in rewarding dogs ONLY when they show acceptable behaviors including quiet and/or ‘four on the floor.’ Mark good behavior with a verbal reward ('Good Dog') and treat or mark withw a clicker to encourage and reinforce quiet and calm. Trainer Karen Pryor has some excellent material available to shelters including our favorite, “Click for Quiet.” Buy 'Quiet Reward Sticker HERE.

Clicker training to teach and reinforce good kennel manners

Teach "four on the floor" - VIDEO

Using a clicker to exercise a dog inside her kennel - VIDEO

More! from trainer Karen Pryor: Clicker Training

BADRAP's Video Library - Everything from trimming dogs' nails to fitting a martingale to using a treadmill

Flirt pole to tire and train

Dogs learn best when lessons are fun, and flirt poles are a great way to turn basic obedience practice into big excitement. A favorite shelter tool for tiring dogs out while reinforcing new commands, especially with dogs who can't play with other dogs.

To keep this valuable as a learning tool, the game must stop any time a dog grabs the toy without permission ('Take'). Great activity for healthy dogs, but be aware that the fast turns and repetitive jumping could aggravate faulty joints, so use wisely.

Training classes for all your dogs - Why not!

Every weekend, volunteer dog handlers empty the Berkeley Animal Care Services shelter of its pit bulls and other larger dogs and for one lovely hour, the dogs learn enough manners to smooth even the roughest edges. The save-rate for Berkeley's dogs has sky rocketed thanks in part to these efforts. Shelter staffers and volunteers are always welcome to observe these classes and pick our brains about a similar start up in your corners. Enjoy these photos that tell the story of the Pit Ed training class. SLIDESHOW 

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Securing the future of America's 'blocky dogs' as a cherished family companions.