This course is intended for Shelter Volunteers and the General Public. There is another version of this course that is intended for Shelter Owners and Administrators:


A prospective adopter walks into an animal shelter that is quiet and smells clean. The dogs are peacefully lounging on beds, happily chewing away on food-stuffed chew toys, or sitting calmly at the front of their kennels wagging “hello” at every passer-by.

The cats are either curled up in beds on elevated platforms or batting at dangling catnip toys.
Volunteers are busily training dogs throughout the facility and cat cuddlers are patiently teaching young, playful cats to retract their claws before getting over-excited.

This is the type of shelter that people travel for miles to visit, clamoring to adopt the friendly,
well-trained residents. These are cats and dogs that will easily settle into their new, permanent homes. This is a shelter that focuses on public education, and everyone who walks in walks out smarter and more aware of the needs of companion animals. 

This is an Open Paw Shelter

The Open Paw program is designed to help shelters and rescues train and socialize the animals in their care so that they become more adoptable and easy to care for, while simultaneously educating the people in their community about how to train and care for their own companion animals, thereby reducing the number of animals that get surrendered to shelters in the first place.

An Open Paw shelter is a happy and wonderful place that uses the power of education and community to improve the lives of everyone who enters its doors.

The Open Paw program does this all for free. Shelters that adopt the Open Paw approach do not need to spend any additional money to follow this program. This course, and all the necessary resources are completely free and Open Paw protocols allow shelters to save money while providing better care. At the same time, Open Paw shelters are much better positioned to raise funds, when compared to traditional shelters, due to their increased engagement and connection to their community.

How can this be possible?

Click the button at the top of this page to enroll in this free course and we'll show you!

The Open Paw Program is Completely Free

Join now to see all of the videos and other resources for yourself. Please consider telling your local animal shelter about the Open Paw program so they can help the animals in their care get the training and socialization they need to find new forever homes.

Course curriculum

    1. Welcome to the Open Paw Program for Shelters & Rescues

    2. What is Open Paw?

    3. Course Structure

    4. More Free Dog Training Resources

    1. MMHR for Dogs and Puppies

    2. How & Why to Use Food-Stuffed Chew Toy for Dogs

    3. MMHR for Cats & Kittens

    1. Foundations in Training

    2. Classical Conditioning

    3. Reward Training

    4. Safety

    5. Review

    6. QUIZ - Classical Conditioning or Reward Training?

    7. Ready for Level 2?

    1. Hyperactivity Management

    2. How to Manage Hyperactivity

    3. Level 2 Safety

    4. Level 2 Review

    5. QUIZ - Hyperactivity Management

    6. Ready for Level 3?

    1. Obedience, Etiquette and Handling

    2. Safety for Exiting Kennel and Walking through the Shelter

    3. Lure Reward Training

    4. Handling & Progressive Desensitization

    5. Leave It / Take It (Also Known as Open Fist/Closed Fist)

    6. Tug of War and Play in Training

    7. Polite Greetings

    8. Level 3 Review

    9. QUIZ - Obedience, Etiquette and Handling

    10. Ready for Level 4?

    1. Dog Walking Techniques

    2. Warm Up to Walking & Off Leash Training

    3. Loose Lead Walking

    4. Red Light / Green Light

    5. Changing Speed and Direction

    6. Sit, Watch, Let’s Go! (Baby Steps)

    7. Lure-Reward Heeling

    8. Safety

    9. Level 4 Review

    10. QUIZ - Dog Walking Techniques

About this course

  • Free
  • 61 lessons
  • Video Lessons
  • Quizzes
  • Comprehensive Manual