Helping Your Dog Enjoy Having Their Paws Touched #19

#canine #debono moves May 06, 2024

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- In this episode, learn tips on making dogs comfortable with paw handling

- With your dog relaxed, begin by incidentally touching a paw with something like your leg or something else that’s not your hand

- Use items like coasters or scarves as a barrier between your hand and the dog's foot

-  With your dog lying on the side, start with the feet that are closest to the floor. In other words, the paws on the side that the dog is lying on. Dogs often are more comfortable about these paws being touched

- Positive reinforcement training can create positive associations with paw handling

- Stay patient, relaxed, and creative to ensure you keep this an enjoyable, stress-free process for your dog - and you!


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All information is for general educational purposes ONLY and doesn't constitute medical or veterinary advice. Please consult a qualified healthcare provider if you or your dog are unwell or injured. 


Hi. Do you have a dog who doesn't like their nails being touched or their feet even just they don't want any contact with their paws, they're worried that you're gonna grab the foot or something like that? Well, I have some really nice tips today for you to help your dog be really comfortable with having their paws handled. And in case we're meeting for the first time,

my name is Mary Debono and this is the Easier Movement, happier Dogs Podcast. So, one of the first tips I'll give you is what I've found to be really helpful when with dogs who don't want their paws touched, which is very common by the way, is to number one, do it very casually. So if you kind of try to have the dog stay in a position and then you make a very intentional move towards their foot,

it's not surprising that they're going to be defensive and worried about that. However, if maybe you're sitting on the couch with your dog and your leg just happens to brush against your dog's foot, that's, you know, processed very differently, right? There's usually no attention paid to that. So that's often the first way I'll get started with a dog. I'm thinking of a dog in particular who he had really,

really didn't want his feet touched, and it was something that I was, he wasn't my dog. I was working with him. It was the first time I met him, but that was something that I had hoped, well, if I could work with his feet, it would help him through his legs and into his hips, et cetera. But,

you know, it's never like a life or death thing if I don't touch his feet, that was okay too. But I just started doing it again very casually. He was sitting on the couch next to me and I started using my leg to just kind of touch his foot. And little by little, you know, he let me put my hands on other parts of his body.

So I was able to start combining, you know, touching his back and then his upper leg, and then using my leg to move his paw a little bit, just to touch it very slightly. Okay. So, and then eventually he let me actually work with his feet, which was awesome. His, his people were really shocked. The other thing I'll say is,

you know, dogs know the difference between like, if you're ready to grab with your hand or if you're using the back of your hand, okay? But before you even use the back of your hand again, I would suggest doing something kind of a little more s stealth, like, okay, like using your leg or some other prop. The other thing I found really helpful is to use something like a coaster.

Okay? I am holding up a little coaster here, but it could be really anything that's, you know, a small size, just slightly bigger than the dog's foot and firm, okay? And that's something that you could, you know, actually start to kind of play with the dog's foot with a little bit. Okay? Now, another really important tip is I found that,

that once your dog gets comfortable, you know, you're just petting your dog on the tummy, say, and they're lying on their side, that that is actually a good way to work with their feet. Now, again, you wanna be really careful that you're not tr giving them the impression that you're going to grab the feet. You know, they might be worried about getting their nails trimmed,

all those kind of things. And we don't, we don't even wanna give them that impression yet, right? That you're gonna do anything like that. You just want, this is the first step is just to get used to them being handled. So what, what I've noticed is that when dogs are lying on their side, just say your dog is lying on her right side.

Okay? So the, usually, it's not always, but usually the right paws, the ones that are closest to the floor, like the legs that are closest to the floor, are less vulnerable for the dog for some reason, like, dogs are more fine with you handling those feet, okay? So that doesn't mean if your dog is really against you handling their feet and they're suddenly gonna be okay just because that's the side they're lying on.

Not at all. But I have found that that tends to be the case, that they're less protective of that. And if you had the dog lie on her left side, then it would be the left legs, the left feet. That would be less protective, often doesn't mean it's going to be always true for your dog, but that's often the case that I've found.

Okay? So I would start there, and then, and I wanna say this, I have very, very successfully been able to introduce quite a number of dogs to the Dremel, by the way, for dogs that were very sensitive, very worried about their feet, and they now happily get Dremel, okay? Which is a little grinder tool that you can use to shape your dog's,

nails to, to trim the nails. So there is hope. So if you're worried about your, you know, if you're concerned, this is a question I get a lot about, well, how do I, how do I even introduce my dog to how having his feet handled? And then again, there's other things we can do, but I would start there.

Number one, be, let's just review a little bit, be very casual about It, okay? Don't be in any kind of hurry to touch the feet. So really, you know, spend time petting your dog. If you know any of my work, maybe do some of that and other parts of the body. And then gradually, you know,

you can even just say you have one hand scratching the stomach. The other hand is like, you know, stroking the dog's hind leg. And then you just, with the back of your hand kind of reach down and accidentally, okay, like accidentally in quotes, touch the foot. But again, don't be in, in any hurry to do that.

Or again, use some kind of prop, use something between your hand and the foot. It could be anything. I, I bring a whole little bag with me when I work with dogs and it has like little paintbrushes in it. It has, has different, different things, different rollers, it, et cetera. But I find that sometimes having something between my hand and the dog is enough of a,

like a distance that it reduces the, the pressure on the dog. So the dog isn't as protective about that part of the body. So that's something you can try, you know, you don't wanna do anything that's going to annoy, frighten, or tickle your dog, but just something, again, that keeps it very low key, very casual. And remember,

it's not a life or death thing, okay? It will happen. You wanna keep bringing positive associations to the touching of the foot. So you wanna always pair it with something positive. You can also, I mean, this is a deeper dive that would, it would take a much longer podcast episode to explain all about positive reinforcement training and how you can pair it with food,

for example, touching the, the feet. You could pair it with food, and that is definitely something that, that's very, very helpful. But again, it's not, you know, it's outside the realm of this podcast episode to get into that. 'cause there's a lot involved with that. So I would encourage you to educate yourself about positive reinforcement training and make sure it's really positive reinforcement training.

Not, not a hybrid, not what they call a balanced approach, but really, really positive reinforcement. Okay? And you can pair the touching of the feet with something really yummy. But again, if you just go at it like straight away, be really intentional, I wanna do this, that will probably backfire. So I think the most important tip I can give you is to be very casual about it.

Very, very relaxed about it. Have a plan, but know that your dog is gonna change your plan, okay? And your dog may react in ways that you don't, didn't expect. So be relaxed about it. Make sure you're breathing easily. Don't be like staring at the feet, you know, and just start to do things, quote unquote accidentally,

okay? That you start to touch them in different ways. You can, again, you can use a little bit of a distraction where you're scratching the belly and then maybe the back of your hand is running down one of the legs and oh, accidentally, the back of your hand touches the foot. You're scratching the belly though, doing something else. Or again,

you could be, you could use food rewards as well, okay? As long as you know how to do that and the timing and all that good stuff. And then you could use something, some kind of prop, you can use, you know, something like a little coaster, some, some other thing that you have that will allow you to touch even.

Like if you had a scarf lying around, you just kind of balled it up and you had that, and you just kind of touch the dog's foot with that, that may be so different that your dog doesn't object. Okay? So again, there's just be creative. Be creative. Just be really respectful of, you know, noticing your dog's stress levels.

You don't want your dog to be stressed about this. We want this to be a fun, pleasant thing, like a game. Think of it as a game. And if you do, you'll be much more successful with that. Okay? So let me know if you have any questions. If you have a particular issue you're dealing with with your dog,

let me know and I may do a podcast episode about it. So thank you so much for being here, and I look forward to talking to you again soon. Bye for now.