A dog’s personality can be as individual as a human’s. This can be endearing, but it can also be a challenge. Owning a dog that won’t allow the touching of his paws may seem like a small problem on the surface; however, this seemingly minute issue can actually create bigger problems in the long run.
Suddenly, you may find yourself with a dog that refuses to allow nail trimmings or worse–aggressive behavior which could include snapping or biting.
To avoid these issues, follow these tips which may keep you and your dog healthy, happy, and safe.
Protect yourself and others
You might think your dog isn’t capable of biting you–that he trusts you wholeheartedly, but if he isn’t allowing you to touch a certain part of his body, that trust is only partial. This means you need to take action and purchase a soft cloth muzzle.
A muzzle might look intimidating, but by muzzle training your pup, you are taking necessary steps to prevent tragedy.
Unless you intend to explain to anyone coming in contact with your dog that his paws can’t be touched, a muzzle ensures protection. Your vet and dog groomer will thank you.
Most experts agree that all dogs should know how to wear a muzzle for a short period of time. For example, even the best dogs can behave unpredictably when they’re injured or in a situation that they aren’t used to. Even the best dogs can snap at children if they aren’t used to them.
Also, remember that with any training you must take time. It’s impossible to fix your dog overnight. Some of this training may simply include the ability to slip a muzzle easily onto your dog.
This alone can be a feat and this also means that the initial goal of touching your dog’s paws is still a long way off. Have patience. Training your dog to do anything that may push its boundaries could take weeks or even months of consistency.
Motivate and reward your dog
Intending to simply reach out and touch your dog’s paws with the hope that he’ll have an epiphany will result in disappointment. Therefore, you need to figure out what motivates your dog and provide a reward when he exhibits good behavior.
These rewards most often translate to treats, toys, and lots and lots of praise. the second your dog demonstrates the slightest of good behavior leaning towards what you want to achieve, immediately reward him.
First, always use praise. After praise, consider what your dog most enjoys. Maybe your dog is really into his favorite squeaky toy, or perhaps he often has a hankering for bacon. Use these tools to your advantage.
Start small with low expectations
Too often novice trainers start in the wrong place and also expect their dog to understand what they want within seconds. Therefore, patience is key.
Remember you are pushing your dog to do something he is uncomfortable doing. This is harder than merely teaching basic commands.
For instance, if your dog won’t allow you to touch his paws, start by touching other areas of his body while he wears a muzzle. Some training days may simply include the gentle touching of his body and then treating.
Remember that you aren’t coming anywhere near the paws yet. Eventually, you can work up to your dog’s legs. Simply doing this–without ever touching your dog’s paws–may take days alone to gain his trust and understanding that touching means treating.
Eventually, you can quickly touch the top of his paws and immediately treat. This initial touch may last a mere second or two, but remember that you’re working your way up.
Once your dog can handle you touching his paw, you can then introduce nail trimmers and do the same methods all over again.
Seek professional training
While it might seem simple to read a training article or book and practice the advice given, this is not always the case. Sometimes it’s a good idea to look to professionals, especially if you’ve never done training before.
Most people that attend dog training will be quick to tell you that it’s not just training the dog. Moreso a professional trains the owner.
Your slightest gestures, tone of voice, timing, and even mood can influence the way your dog reacts. A professional training class can teach you how to manipulate these tools to your advantage.
Furthermore, you’ll meet others in the boat as yourself. Lots of dogs have small quirks and you’ll work together to solve them. It’s also a good idea to socialize your dog as well.
Other dogs can help influence behavior and your trainer will give you homework to work on for each class so you can monitor your pacing.
These classes will help you stay consistent and have patience while understanding your dog. In addition, it’s great to have a professional that you can reach out to with questions or concerns.
Seek private training
If all else fails, you need to bring out the big guns. Depending on your dog, you may want to reach for both your wallet and someone that can work with just you and your dog in a private setting. This is not a failure on your part.
If you really want results, this one on one time can move mountains when it comes to training both you and your dog.
A private trainer can solely work on the individual interactions between you and your dog without the distraction of other people and dogs.
While other class members can be an asset, they may also cause your dog anxiety and you have to divide the trainer among them. This can be daunting if you have an especially challenging or even a vocal dog.
Private training may be more expensive, but remember that it’s not only temporary, but it’s also worth it.
Keep it up
After gaining mastery over your dog’s paws, unfortunately, your work is not done. Just because your dog allows you to touch its paws right now doesn’t mean you throw the muzzle out and stop treating or praising.
In order to keep desired habits, you will most likely need to work on them throughout your dog’s life.
Every so often, it’s a good idea to take five minutes to grab some treats and praise your dog for allowing you access to his paws.
Keep in mind that you’re not the only one that needs access. Your vet will need to examine his paws and a groomer will need to trim his nails, so the more you work on this, the easier their lives will be as well.