Yeah my problem is to get him to understand "release". For example when I give him his meal I tell him to "sit" or "down" he gets into that position I say good job, and go down to the bowl to give his meal he gets up and imediatly go to the bowl without me releasing him to do it.
I think you're making it too hard at first. Here is a picture of Halo waiting to be released to eat (look at that focus!!!!) at 15 weeks old, with her food bowl on the floor:
I started teaching this right away we we got her at 10 weeks old. At first it was VERY easy - I start to lower the bowl to the floor and the second she broke her sit, I'd stand back up. Over and over again, however many times it took to keep her in a sit until the bowl touched the floor, and then I released her immediately. I made sure she was far enough away that if she got up I'd be able to get the bowl out of reach before she got to it. I worked up to being able to take my hands off the bowl before releasing, then to stand all the way back up, to being able to take a step away from the bowl, to having her closer to the bowl than I was, and finally to being on one side of a barrier with the dog and the food on the other side, like in this picture of Keefer at 5 months old:
Now I can put my dogs in a down with the food bowl right under their noses and they will stare at me until I release them to eat. You'd better believe they understand EXACTLY what that release word is!
As far as praise goes, it depends on the exercise. I do give my dogs lots of very happy, enthusiastic praise to show them when they've pleased me, but not in a stay type exercise. I don't want them excited, I want them calm, so I'll say "gooood dog", "very nice", "great job", excellent", in a quiet, soothing tone of voice, and then I release.
And yes, teaching him to give you his paw is a perfect example of where a clicker is great. Or even a sit or a down, or marking and rewarding correct heel position.