Puppy Training 101 Handling, Restraint and Grooming
As early as possible, you should start to get your puppy comfortable with being handled, restrained, and groomed. You will frequently be brushing your puppy’s fur, wiping his feet, brushing his teeth, reaching for him quickly, trimming his nails, and even possibly removing a thorn from his footpad. These reoccurring actions can be quite challenging if you do not teach your puppy now how to enjoy being handling and to be calm and relaxed during handling and grooming. In these daily exercises, you will be teaching your puppy to trust you and to view these procedures as enjoyable and not stressful.
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- Hold your puppy’s collar then give him a treat.
- Pick up your puppy’s front foot then give him a treat. Repeat with each foot, his tail, and ears.
- Lift your puppy’s lip and give him a treat.
- Gently stroke the top of your puppy’s head and give him a treat.
- Gently hug your puppy and give him a treat. Please read this article to ensure you understand hugging and his body language.
- Take a soft brush and stroke your puppy’s back and give him a treat.
- Repeat these steps with various family members and your friends.
As your puppy starts to look forward to these lessons start to increase the length of your touching. For example, instead of picking up your puppy’s front paw and treating, pick up your puppy’s paw and gently hold for a couple of seconds, then treat. You are working toward a longer duration so that you can examine your puppy’s body, give nail trims, pull out possible thorns, etc.
If your puppy is being mouthy during any of these lessons, do a little less before giving the treat. You can also allow him to lick a food stuffed hollow treat toy during handling. Remember, your puppy must view all this as enjoyable. If he seems cautious on any of these things, proceed very slowly, or contact a professional.
Do not get complacent in handling your puppy. It is critical to remember that puppies go through many changes in the first 18 months of their lives. Even though your puppy may be fine with it now, this does not guarantee that he will be fine later in life. Practice these exercises on a daily basis, and remember to reward heavily for good behavior.
This is an excerpt from my book, Proactive Puppy Care: Preventing Puppy Problems
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