How to clean your dog’s paws?
Or rather how to avoid little dog paws all over your home after a walk?
In our home we have made it into a habit to dry the dogs’ paws after every outing and walk. The dogs know that they have to wait by the door and not go in before their paws has been cleaned.
So today I thought it was time for another tutorial on how to teach your dog to get his/her paws cleaned. Not only will it keep your house cleaner, it will also give you to the opportunity to check your dog’s paws daily and make sure they are in tip top shape.
But why is it important to clean your dog’s paws?
Besides the already mentioned benefits there is also the behavioral aspect. We want to be able to have our dogs feel comfortable and calm with our touch, them knowing that nothing bad will happen. By accustoming them to have their paws touched on a daily basis it will make it so much easier to handle their paws in other aspects such as cutting their claws (another tutorial on that will come up soon) or when the vet has to handle them. It also gives your dog a routine to follow each time he/she encounters a door, and we all know that dogs love their routines. It also makes it easier for your dog to behave well and instead of racing inside he/she will learn to enter a home more calmly.
So how to do it, follow these steps and clean dog paws are on their way!
STEP 1: Wait please. Teaching your dog the cue “wait” is not only useful for when drying his/her paws but also as a general cue for when you need your dog to wait for you, or wait in a spot etc. This cue is for me one of the most important cues to teach your dog. First ask them to sit or lie down, and then take one step back, if they stay then praise keyword such as “good” and then reward. Slowly increase the steps you take away from them and keep rewarding and repeating until your dog and you have mastered it to perfection.
STEP 2: Pawshake. Next step is to teach your dog how to give his/her paw to you. Ask him/her to sit, then put your hand out flat and ask for their paw, remember to alter between left and right. I also switch my hands so they know that right goes on right and left goes on left. Success is praised and rewarded and then of course repeated slowly increasing the time you hold each paw in your hand.
STEP 3: Pawshake advanced. Now you have mastered the “paw please” cue and it is time to expand. Take your towel and make it touch your dog’s paw whenever you practice the paw shake then keyword praise, reward and repeat. Then slowly expand how long you touch the paw with the towel, going both on top, below and in between the pads.
Mind you some dogs do not like to be touched in between their paws so if your dog pulls his/her paw away then he/she is not ready for that step yet and you need to go back again and start with touching above and below the paw, and whenever you go in between the pads then extra praise and reward if your dog lets you (here a high quality treat would be recommended so your dog really feels like they are getting something good out of something that might be less comfortable).
STEP 4: The bagpaw shake. We want to to be able to dry all 4 paws, not just the fronts. As the dog will have his/her bag to you they cannot see what you want them to do, so what I did was first to just quickly touch a bag paw then keyword praise and reward. Then increasing the touch slowly until finally picking up the paw, of course praise and treats in a consistent flow through each step and then prolonging the hold of each paw.
STEP 5: Bag paw wipe. When your dog is comfortable having his/her bag paws lifted you can introduce the towel and follow STEP 3.
Voila in 5 easy steps your dog’s paws is cleaned, remember to repeat the exercise daily and before you know it, it has become a habit just like the walk itself is.
Happy clean paw high 5s to you all!
Want to read more? Go read How to brush your dog’s teeth – A 7-step guide