August 2019

Audience: Foster Caregivers, Public, Shelter/Rescue Staff & Volunteers

Things You'll Need

  • A quiet place that is free of distractions to start your training.
  • Rewards that motivate your dog.
  • A marker word or clicker (used to mark the exact moment your dog does the behavior you are teaching). A marker word should be quick and simple, such as "yes", bingo, right or good. You will use this marker anytime your dog does a behavior you like or you are teaching a new behavior.
  • A good attitude and patience

Power up the marker/clicker

  • First, teach your dog that the marker word or clicker has meaning and that it's fun. Say the Marker word or click and give your dog a treat 20 times, twice a day for 3 days. By the end of the 3rd day, your dog will know they're getting a treat when they hear the marker word/click. That's when you know the marker word/clicker is ready for you to use during training.

Eye contact

  • If your dog is looking into your eyes, most likely they're paying attention to you rather than what's around them. Your dog might be distracted or shy, but every now and then, they'll make eye contact with you. When your dog looks up into your eyes, mark the behavior and reward your dog. Your dog will start paying more attention to you. More information about getting your dog's attention.


  • Teach your dog to turn and look at you every time you say their name. Using a happy voice, say your dog's name when they are close by, about 1-2 feet away from you. When your dog looks up at your face, mark and reward. Gradually start to say your dog's name when they are farther away, or distracted with minor things to build reliability.


  • Teach your dog to follow a lure. Hold a treat in your hand right at your dog's nose. Move your hand slowly away, up or down so your dog will follow. When your dog follows the treat, mark the behavior and reward the dog. You can use this trick to position your dog in a "sit" or "down" or going up and down stairs, or through stressful environments. More information on Luring.
  • At first, your dog might just stretch their head to reach for the treat. Mark and reward the forward motion. As your dog gets the hang of it, they'll start following the lure for a few inches. If your dog tries to bite or grab the treat out of your hand, close your hand in a fist around the treat to prevent your dog from stealing the treat.


  • "Touch" or touching the palm of your hand is a great cue for shy dogs or to distract dogs from something.
  • Place your open hand a few inches away from your dog's face. When you feel the wet nose touching your hand, mark and reward. More information about "Touch".
  • Teach your shy dog "touch" and then use it with strangers to help create positive associations.

Find it

  • Teaching your dog to find a treat is an easy way to send them away or distract them momentarily. It's a great job to give a shy dog, and it can be effective when you have visitors at the door. An excited dog can be distracted from jumping on people by searching for stuff on the ground instead.
  • Say "find it' and throw a treat past your dog's nose to the ground. Right before they're ready to pick up the treat off the floor, click or use the marker word to mark their behavior of "find it". More information on "find it" with scent games.

Crate training

  • Your dog, especially if young, excitable or fearful, can benefit from learning how to enjoy being in a crate. Send the dog in by saying "crate" and then throwing a yummy treat in the back of the crate. When your dog goes in, praise them and give them a couple treats on the bedding of the crate.
  • Once your dog eats the treats, give the release word such as "okay" or "free" for them to exit the crate. Repeat the exercise of going in and out of the crate 3-5 times per session, a few times each day while they're getting acclimated to the crate. Gradually increase the amount of time spent in the crate. Give your dog a stuffed Kong toy to chew on while they're in the crate for longer periods of time. More information about crate training.


  • Hold a small treat in front of your dog's nose. Raise your hand over their head slowly, as you're moving your hand over their head towards their back, their nose will tip up and the rear end should go down. When your dog sits, mark and reward the behavior. More information about teaching "Sit".

Say Please

  • Teach your dog to ask for things they want by sitting and making eye contact with you. For example, if your dog is in front of the door wanting to go out, wait for them to sit and look up into your eyes. Mark the behavior, and open the door as a reward. More information about "Say Please".