On a daily basis we hear stories about dogs who hate having their feet touched or their nails cut, this is generally due to the owners or breeders not doing “body desensitization” with their pups at a young age.
If you have a new pup, it’s highly important for you to do body desensitization drills with this pup starting as soon as you get him/her (8-weeks old).
There are 11 key “target” points that you need to focus on:
1-2: Left Ear and Right Ear
3: Muzzle (open the mouth, check teeth, grab muzzle, etc)
4-7: All 4 paws and nails
8: Neck (collar area)
10. Hugging the dog
11. Brushing the dog
We have dealt with a ridiculous amount of dogs who are collar and feet sensitive and reactive; seemingly, these are the two biggest areas where we have seen this issue. In THIS VIDEO, you will see a 6-year old Basset Hound who I just finished giving a private seminar for who was very “feet aggressive.” These owners were not at fault for this, due to the fact that they rescued the dog at a later age; however, whoever the breeder was (or original owners) are generally responsible for this behavior.
I would say on a weekly basis at our dog training facility in Northern Virginia, we deal with at least 1 dog who is collar reactive; meaning, it is a dog who is friendly but will react negatively if his collar is touched or handled. The main reason that these target points can be an issue is that a child (or stranger) who sees that your dog is “friendly” will not know that these specific areas “set them off.” If this happens, you may be left with an “unexpected bite,” I would HIGHLY recommend clicking that link and reading my blog on how dogs almost never bite “unexpectedly.”
So, what’s the solution to prevent this?
It’s so ridiculously simple to prevent, that it annoys me that dogs become reactive! When you get your puppy, immediately begin doing these 11 key things above on a DAILY basis (and even multiple times per day).
This is how it should break down for you and your pup:
Touch and hold the left paw, praise or treat.
Touch and hold the right paw, praise or treat.
Touch and hold the back left paw, praise or treat.
Touch and hold the back right paw, praise or treat.
Touch and hold the left ear, praise or treat.
Touch and hold the right ear, praise or treat.
Stroke the tail, praise or treat.
Rub around the collar area, praise or treat.
Rub around the muzzle area, praise or treat.
Hug and hold the dog for a few seconds, praise or treat.
Give the dog a light brushing, praise or treat.
If you did this simple drill on a daily basis, not only will your dog NOT become reactive but they will LOVE you doing these things! Why? Because your dog has associated you touching these areas with a reward and/or verbal praise (or even both).
This routine LITERALLY takes about 20-30 seconds to complete; therefore, there are really no excuses as to why you should not be doing this with your pup. Simple things such as these when combined with picking the right dog, socialization, and confidence building, will help ensure that you have a stable and confident pup.
If you do these 11 things with your pup: your vet, your groomer, and everyone who meets your dog will love you for it.
Off Leash K9 Training