Handle Me! :
Week 3 - Getting Down to Business
Welcome to Week 3! This week we really start focusing on getting beyond the basic equipment and location exposure and on to foundations for handling and grooming. I purposely used dog who has very fearful associations with being handled so they will be just as apprehensive as many of the dogs practicing at home.
Remember to TAKE IT SLOW! This week’s lessons might take a week or two. This isn’t a race. Your dog gets to set the pace.
Nails Part 1 - Paw Touching
Start out with amazing treats and the feeding tension exercise. Quickly move into touching your dog’s feet. If they allow it, lift the paw and spread the toes. If they don’t allow you to do that, work where they are. For some that might be just massaging the shoulder and not even getting to the feet. For others front feet might be easier than back feet. If they pull away, stop and take a break either by letting them move away or by doing some behaviors they enjoy as I did in the video. Keep sessions short but practice daily.
Towels are a part of life but we forget to integrate them fairly into our dog’s life. Instead of making your dog stand to towel them off, start feeding them while you do it. For wiping feet, a much more fun alternative than picking up sensitive feet, is to do it while giving tummy rubs. To get started, show your dog the towel in a fun way. Be playful. Then ask your dog to lie down on the ground and give belly. You can do this with a food lure. Then while they are eating, gently touch their feet.
Chin Touch Part 2 - Getting Dressed
Now that your dog is learning to rest their chin, you can start applying it to real life situations. Getting leashed up or having a collar put on is a great way to practice. Have your dog rest their chin on your hand while you clip the leash or slip a collar on. Cue “chin” and then drop your hand away as you slip the collar on. Then say “yes” and reward.
Vet Handling Part 1 - Equipment
Before we can ask the dog to be comfortable with restraint, I want the dog comfortable with the equipment that is also involved. To do so we will feed our dogs in the presence of all kinds of tools. For the videos I am demonstrating with a stethoscope. If your dog wants to get away (like in the first video) let them and then start again. You’ll see that the second dog is more confident. Work from the first picture to the second with other equipment as well.
Work on paws/nails DAILY! Post updates as you can. To record videos I recommend propping up your phone so you can have your hands empty.
Practice vet handling 3x a week.
Practice towels at least 1-2 times a week and practice chin 1-2 times a week as well if you’re up to this point.