With terrible weather comes the need to wipe a lot of wet, muddy paws. A lot of people have trouble wiping their dogs feet because either the dog won’t stand still or constantly pulls their feet away while you are wiping them. I find this happens mostly because the dogs have never been taught to tolerate it and many can’t understand why you would be grabbing their feet, especially with a foreign (to them) object, like a towel.
If this is an issue you’re having, here is a simple 3-step solution:
Step 1: Teach your dog to shake a paw. Practice repeatedly until your dog willingly and happily puts each of his front feet, one at a time, in your hand when you ask and leaves it there for a couple of seconds. You can teach him to give you his back feet much the same way you would teach him to give you his front feet.
Here’s a simple tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiggCKvg3io
Step 2: Drape a towel over your hand. Continue to practice shake-a-paw as you did before but now asking for your dogs paw with your hand covered by the towel. As tempting as it might be, DO NOT squeeze or wipe his feet right now. Simply reward him for placing his foot on your towel covered hand. Practice repeatedly with each foot until your dog is comfortable placing his paw on the towel and holding it there for several seconds.
Step 3: Ask your dog to shake-a-paw with your towel covered hand as you did in Step 2. Once he gives it to you, do a quick wipe (1 – 2 seconds) of the toes on that foot with the towel hand. Release his foot and reward him. Repeat until he is comfortable with you handling each foot like this, and then gradually start to increase the time and even vigorousness of the foot wipe until you can do a proper wipe.
How long will this take? Teaching your dog to shake-a-paw will likely be the longest part of the process. He may learn it in one – 10 minute session or it may take several training sessions repeated over several days or more. Once he masters that, I find it to be a very quick process to add in the other two steps (it took me less than 10 minutes with the last two dogs I worked with) unless your dog already has a significant issue with you handling him.
Note: Be mindful of how much pressure you use when wiping your dogs feet. Some dogs are very touch and pressure sensitive and you may have to slow down and soften your grip, especially at first.
If your dog becomes aggressive with you or fearful of the process, stop and contact us to set up a lesson to help guide you through. Sometimes all it takes is our eyes on the issue, minor adjustments to your handling and some simple tips on how to break down each step into smaller, more manageable pieces so that your dog can easily succeed.
Until next time,
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