I’ve been working on touching Abe’s feet essentially every day. The whole idea is to make it something fun that he willingly participates in. Tonight, after we got back from a walk, he was imploring me with his eyes to give him the sugar cookie I was eating, so I decided to let him have it… But he had to “work” for it!
Normally I would use the clicker for a session like this, but 1. The clicker was downstairs (oops), and 2. I was out of hands to even use it if I had it. Rather than lose the opportunity that had presented itself via a begging dog, I went ahead without it.
At one point in the video, you see him pull his foot away. When I’m holding the foot, I hold it firmly but gently; he can pull away pretty easily, but he has to make a conscious decision to do so. I’m holding it firmly enough that he can’t just accidentally pull it out of my hand. When he pulls it away, I don’t try to keep hold of it, and I don’t correct him. He just doesn’t get a cookie. You see him understand this in the video! He pulls his foot away, tucks it under himself, looks for the treat, and then the lightbulb turns on! No foot, no treat! And out the foot comes again. Good boy!
I only focused on his left foot in the video because for some reason, he’s not as comfortable with the right. I wonder if there’s a physical reason for it, but since I can’t inspect the foot, I can’t know for sure. While I can touch and handle the left foot, attempting to do the same with the right will result in a nip. The plan is to progress separately with the left and right. At the moment he’s not comfortable with me touching his right paw pad, even though he lets me touch the left, so I click and treat for touching the top of the right foot only. On the left, he doesn’t get a treat unless he lets me touch the paw pad.
I’ll continue this every day until he allows me to massage every one of his paws without showing any discomfort. Only then will I start the process of getting him comfortable with nail clipping. In the meantime, his nails are getting long, but not terribly so. I have an idea to address that as well… Coming soon! Still formulating 🙂