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  • Throughout your dog’s entire life he will need to be handled on various parts of his body. Vet exams, toenail trims, grooming appointments, a simple sticker in his foot while you are on a hike with him.

    Whenever you are having a sit-and-snuggle session with your dog, use it as a training session. Try to touch every part of his body. Some dogs don’t like their feet touched, some don’t like their ears touched. Get as close as you can to these areas but stop if your dog shows signs of being nervous.

    Signs of being nervous:

    • Jerking body part away from you
    • Panting
    • Stiffening of his body
    • Sudden body movements
    • Wide eyes

    When you are massaging his shoulder and are moving down toward the paw and he lifts his head suddenly, he is nervous. Don’t go so far the next time you massage him. Try to gain a fraction of an inch each time.

    If you cannot gain ground by simply desensitizing your dog over time, then offer him treats as you go. As you inch your hand down the leg, give a tiny treat. Be sure he’s not demonstrating nervousness and is looking forward to the next tiny treat before you go further. The smaller the treats are, the more eager he will be to earn the next one.

    Once you have the dog tolerating your touch then you can work on duration. Increase your touch from one second to two seconds and so on.

    Progression of Foot TouchingDole out treats as necessary

    • Touch the foot
    • Hold the foot
    • Lift the foot
    • Place your fingers between pad and toes
    • Touch the toenail
    • Touch the toenails with a nail clippers/nail file/pen/metal object

    Progression of Ear TouchingDole out treats as necessary

    • Touch the ear
    • Hold or lift the ear
    • Place finger in ear
    • Place cotton swab in ear
    • Place tip of a medication-type bottle in ear

    If your dog needs continued topical medication or injections, this training will also help desensitize him to these procedures.

    Janine Allen CPDT
    Certified Pet Dog Trainer

    Rescue Me Dog
    Shelter Adoption – THE Option


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