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All puppies can learn to be more comfortable being touched
Feet, Mouth, Ears

“To touch an animal is an earned privilege, not a right”

Being able to handle your puppy all over will make both of your lives easier and less stressful. Start now, while puppy is young and impressionable. All puppies can learn to be more comfortable being touched.

We want puppy to trust you, and to feel safe and secure even if you touch him in ways he would not usually like. It is normal for puppies to pull away when you hold their feet, ears, or mouths. But you can change this, and by following just a few simple rules, you can help puppy accept all sorts of handling. 

Watch the above video. The trainer is gently holding the puppy’s foot, mouth, or ear. Each time she takes hold of a body part, she then quickly delivers tasty treats right to puppy’s mouth, and lets puppy nibble the treats as she continues to hold the body part. When she lets go of the body part, she also stops feeding. You can see that the puppy is a little bit uncomfortable with his mouth being held. The trainer’s hold is gentle, and while she does not let go of puppy’s mouth when he struggles, she also does not clamp down on him and cause him to panic. She feeds him treats until he is comfortable, and just makes sure to have the treats ready to deliver more quickly the next time. Very quickly she is able to hold his mouth for longer, and even lift his lip and look at his teeth.

Don’t wait for puppy to decide how he feels about having his feet, mouth, and ears handled. He almost certainly will not like it. Instead, create a positive association as quickly as you can by pairing the handling with very tasty treats.  Touch first, then quickly deliver a treat. If puppy has trouble with a particular body part or type of touch, make a note of it and resolve to change the way he feels by using great food.

  • Make sure puppy loves the food you will be using before starting your session. That’s loves (not just likes)
  • Timing matters! You are not simply touching and feeding continuously. You are starting to touch then starting to feed. (You are generally then stopping touching and feeding at the same time.) The touch must predict that the food is coming (and not the other way around).
  • If you are having trouble, watch the video again and then try
    1) Making the touch easier
    2) Making the food better
    3) Feeding more quickly after the touch
    4) Taking a break and coming back to it later
    5) Asking us for help