Aggression when drying paws

Discussion in 'Labrador behaviour' started by Nikid, Sep 20, 2016.

  1. Nikid

    Nikid Registered Users

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    Archie is coming up for a year old, and generally well-behaved. We have moved to a new house, and he is settling in. We're working on not barking at the dog in the garden behind, and not eating the cat poo or sundry other rubbish that he can dig up in the garden from areas I haven't cleared yet. In the wetter weather, I've had to go back to drying his paws, and his snout where he has been digging. He seems to hate the towel, and can be growly and snappy. I'm doing my best to be firm, and continue drying him, then reward when I've done, but the aggression is worrying me. Any ideas how I should approach this? Could it be linked to being wound up from the other dog, digging in the garden etc? I'd be grateful for advice. Life is stressful at the moment, and I know I am not as patient as I should be.

    Ps - I hope this isn't posted in the wrong place
     
  2. Oberon

    Oberon Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Paws are very sensitive and some dogs don't like them being handled.

    What I'd do is go right back to to beginning of training him to be ok with this. And treat all the way through, not just at the end. Get a bowl of the best treats (roast chicken, raw mince, bacon pieces...). Get out your towel and give him a treat. Put the towel on the floor next to him and give him a treat. Touch the towel to his paw. Treat. Pick up his paw and touch the towel to it. Big Treat. You get the idea - break it down into tiny steps (tiny, tiny steps!!) and heavily reward at every tiny step. Be gentle, as if you are drying the hands of a newborn baby.

    You should also repeat each 'step' several times before moving on. This might take many short sessions as you'll need to go slow and not try to achieve too much in any one session. Be on the lookout for any signs that he's uncomfortable with it and if he is then back off immediately.

    Consider other, easier options too, like fencing off dirt/mud, or supervising him outside.
     
  3. SteffiS

    SteffiS Registered Users

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    One thing I always do is get Ripple to sit on the towel every time we come indoors, so it's part of his routine and not restricted to when he's wet or muddy. I spent a long time getting him used to the towel using treats in a similar way to the way Oberon described.

    The more comfortable he got with the towel the more parts of him I 'dried'. He now offers his face for a head rub and then a chin rub and we've virtually dispensed with the treats altogether. Hopefully by the time the really bad weather gets here I will be able to dry all of him without too much of a struggle :).

    And patience is a big part of it, I've had to accept that sometimes it can take 10 minutes or more to get calm enough behaviour to dry him, but we're definitely getting there.
     
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  4. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    Try Chirag Patel's the bucket game - if you google or search on facebook you'll find it.

    I use this for any handling my dogs don't like and it has worked like a dream. Basically, you train 'a deal' . The original is put your nose on a bucket, you get treats, I do whatever, if you want to stop remove your nose from the bucket. It puts the dog in control, gives them a choice, and really works. It really, really works!

    I don't use a bucket, I use put your head on a towel on my lap, or sit on the sofa. (I don't have problems like getting dried, I use this for things like ear cleaning and eye drops etc). Charlie gets on the sofa, gets cheese, has his ears cleaned, gets more cheese. If he doesn't want to, he gets off the sofa. He always chooses the sofa, ear cleaning and cheese.
     
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  5. Nikid

    Nikid Registered Users

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    Thanks - they sound like good things to get started with. He was much calmer today, so I think it will just take time, patience and more training. Your positive suggestions are very much appreciated.
     
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  6. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    I've done similar to Julie for clipping/filing my dogs' claws. They ask to start by putting their paw in my hand, and they ask to stop by removing their paw. They get lots of treats for keeping it there (smelly pâté, lovely!) and after every claw I work on. It took a long time to work up to this, starting with rewards for simply touching their feet, then touching their feet with the clippers/file next to them, then in my hand etc etc. Tiny, tiny steps, and be prepared to go backwards with the steps, too. It took a couple of months of training to get them happy to have their claws done properly, and I still have to be careful to allow them to be the one making the choice.
     
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  7. Snowshoe

    Snowshoe Registered Users

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    I have not experienced real fear or biting with handling feet but I do have a puppy who thought nail clipping was a great game and foot drying is too. For the nails, since I didn't have two extra hands, I put a towel over his head. When he couldn't see what I was doing he stopped wildly waving his feet around. I am not sure if this should be tried in a case of real fear but it did sure work for too much energy. I do sort of do it for drying as well, which is also a game to him. WE play matador with the towel, it goes over his head again, and when the matador (me) makes a mistake the bull (Oban) jumps up into the towel and almost self dries his own feet. Again, for real fear I'm not sure you should do this. I only mention it because it works so well for us.
     
  8. SteffiS

    SteffiS Registered Users

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