The Ultimate Guide to Dog Training For First Time Dog Owner: Part 5
First-time dog owner needs to understand that while most dogs love to be cuddled and be pet, not all like to be handled – like when taken care of their teeth, nails, and hair. There is a big chance that your puppy will start running as soon as they know you’re coming to do some handling exercises with them. Handling exercises are not only vital to your dog’s hygiene, but also to the health of you and your family. So how do you make your dog love to do handling cares as much as being cuddled?
Introduce your dog to handling exercises at a young age
The best way to make your dog accustomed to handling care is to start early. As with other training, handling exercises can take time.
Start with giving a gentle massage on the different parts of the body that you would like to check. For example, massage his paws and softly touch his nails when you want to inspect the area. Every once in a while, give your puppy a treat (an actual dog treat can suffice but it’s generally better to reward with a good playful petting) and don’t forget to repeat. The key is to associate these handling exercises with rewards. Soon enough your canine companion will learn that after handling exercises, they will get a reward.
The right time for handling your puppy
The best time to do handling exercises with your puppy is when he is calm or tired. This could be after a walk outside or a play session. You can also use your puppy’s feeding time as handling time. Puppies are usually focused when eating, so it’s likely that they will be calm.
Once your puppy has learned to be used to handling exercises, you can then start scaling your way up to brushing his teeth and nail cutting. Initially, start with one nail and one tooth. Again, reward him for his cooperation. What you want is to progress slowly but surely.
It is also essential to get your puppy to be handled by strangers. This is important for the dog’s future as there will be a time when you need your dog to be treated by someone else. For example, they will need to go to a vet, dog groomer, or puppy daycare.
Training older dogs for handling
How about older dogs?
Can they still be trained to love handling exercises?
Can an old dog be taught new tricks?
The answer is actually yes. Don’t give up just yet. Although it will take more time and effort, it is possible.
The most vital aspect with an older dog is to change his emotional response to handling exercises from negative to positive. Similar with young puppies, the reward system must be incorporated. This time, however, associate handling exercises with something that he already loves. This could be his favorite treat or letting him play with his favorite toy.
Benefits of handling training
Besides hygienic reason, handling exercises can be useful to prevent your dog from developing a body sensitivity. You don’t want your dog to not want to be touched at all. Whether it’s a young puppy or an older dog, making him use to handling care will take some time. Go slowly, and if your dog starts feeling uncomfortable, take a break and come back to him later. Repeat the exercises and overtime, your dog will get used to it, and life will be easier for you and your lovely dog.