Why Some Dogs Have Touchy Paws
It seems many dogs don’t like having their paws touched. For dog groomers, one of the biggest problems they have is trying to handle their client’s paws, especially when it comes to doing their nails. Why is this?
Dogs are not born having touchy paws. If you pick up and handle newborn puppies they don’t resist having their paws touched. You can touch them, play with them, tickle them, just as you do the rest of a puppy’s body. Dogs become squeamish about having their paws touched later in life. They learn to fear having their paws touched because of bad experiences, or because their owners don’t try to handle their paws until they are ready to cut their nails. Whatever the case, the dog only associates negative things with having their paws touched.
The key to having a dog that is not skittish about having his paws touched is to make sure you handle his paws from the day you bring him home.
Start by petting his paws and playing with his toes when he’s lying down. Give him some treats while petting his paws. Help him to associate good things with having his paws petted.
Handle all parts of your puppy’s paws — his pads, his toes, in between the toes, the tops and the bottoms of his paws. Remember to give treats. Give him a paw massage. Dogs enjoy having their paws massaged, as long as he hasn’t become touchy about having his paws handled.
When trimming his nails only remove a tiny bit of nail during each session. This way you won’t come near cutting your puppy’s nail quick. Cutting the quick is what hurts and what can make the nail bleed so you want to avoid it at all costs. If your puppy has clear or white nails then you can see the white-colored quick inside the nail. Stay away from it with your nail clippers! If your puppy has black or dark nails, try to align them with the white or clear nails that you cut. If all his nails are dark, then trim a very small segment of nail (1/4 inch, for instance). Look at the bottom of the nail and see how it looks. Does it look dry? Is there any sign of an opening for the quick? If it looks safe, then you may be able to remove another tiny amount of the nail, but it’s better to be cautious.
Whenever you cut your dog’s nails be sure to give him treats as you work on each nail. Praise him for any cooperation at all. Work on one nail or one paw at a time and don’t make it a chore.