This weekend, I spent some time working on Abe’s feet. In everyday life, I casually touch his feet as much as I can. I don’t make a big deal of it, and I don’t touch them for very long. I just work it into normal life.
I’ve started having structured lessons on paw touching in addition to the casual touching. Structured lessons are harder for him since he knows what’s happening and knows that I intend to touch his feet. Dealing with something you don’t like is harder when you know it’s coming… You obsess and stew on it.
In his Friday night lesson, I started with the nail board. He’s comfortable with this now. Then I switched gears and started on the paw touches; this was his first structured lesson on it. The subtitles should explain everything I’m doing, but if you have questions, let me know.
Saturday night, I started with the paw touches and introduced the nail clippers. At first, I just showed them to him. Then I moved them closer as I touched his feet. Then I tapped his nails with the clippers. I won’t attempt to actually clip until he’s totally okay with the clippers tapping his nails. At one point he was getting really nervous and couldn’t even look at me while I was touching his feet. This dog’s normal behavior is staring pretty much constantly… When he won’t even look in my general direction, that means he’s really overwhelmed. So I took a break and went to the nail board to give him some space and regain some confidence before going back to the touches.
It may not seem like it, but he’s so much better than he was! This dog is super fearful, and I need to go slow because of it. If I go too fast and overwhelm him, he’s going to go over his threshold.
He’s getting there.