Abe has never been very thrilled to have his feet handled. He tolerates the back feet being touched and handled briefly, but the fronts are a different story. He isn’t necessarily afraid that I’m going to hurt him; most dogs don’t like their feet handled and have to be conditioned to enjoy it. So that’s what I’m doing.
Tonight I’m hanging out in my room, where we chill in the evenings while I watch Netflix or finish up the day’s work. I’ve got my tablet (good ol Gilmore Girls), the clicker, and some tiny salmon treats. He’s laying next to me and getting loved on, as usual. But tonight, I’m working on touching his feet. I casually touch his foot for a second, and before he has a chance to react, I click, remove my hand, and give him a treat. Repeat. A lot. Each time I touch his foot, I leave my hand there for a millisecond longer and click if he doesn’t react. If he pulls his paw away, he doesn’t get a treat. Ignore the undesired behavior; reward the desired behavior.
I continue for about five minutes and then stop touching his feet. After a little bit, I’ll repeat the short sessions. The beautiful thing about working with him in this setting is that he has no idea he’s being trained! He gets awesome treats and snuggles. What more could a dog ask for?
After short session, he doesn’t pull away if I feel between the paw pads and mess with his nails for about three seconds at a time. That’s great progress! A few more little sessions tonight while I watch Netflix, and we’ll see how far he gets. No rush.
And we repeat.