Handling


What you are training

We’re teaching the pup to be comfortable with different parts of his body being handled by different people.

Why you should train this

  • Most people, when greeting a dog, will pat him on the head.  This is quite invasive for a dog and people can be quite rough too — imagine someone coming up to you and hitting you on the head!
  • There will be times when your dog has to visit the vet, and potentially the groomer.  This will be less stressful if the dog is used to being handled.

How you will train this

We’ll use treats so that the pup forms positive associations with being handled all over the body.  The areas of the body that the pup is most sensitive to being handled, their ‘hot spots’, are 

  • ears
  • paws
  • muzzle
  • collar area
  • rear end

DO NOT MOVE ONTO THE NEXT STEP UNTIL YOUR PUP IS COMPLETELY COMFORTABLE WITH THE CURRENT STEP.   If your pup is showing signs of stress, stop the exercise and get in touch for some advice.

Step 1

  • Stroke a hot spot
  • Reward
  • Repeat with random hot spots

Step 2

  • Prod a hot spot (not violently!)
  • Reward
  • Repeat with random hot spots

Step 3

  • ‘Examine’ a hot spot (as if you were a vet)
  • Reward
  • Repeat with random hot spots

Step 4

  • Hug your pup
  • Reward
  • Repeat

Homework

  • Ask each member of the family to do this exercise with your pup (you can use your pup’s kibble and add treats intermittently).
  • Vary the locations where you do this exercise; different rooms in the house, in the garden, when you’re out for a walk.
  • Ask friends to do the exercises
  • If your pup has full immunity, take him to the vets when there’s no requirement for a checkup or procedure, and to the groomers when there’s no requirement for grooming.  Ask the people that work there to interact with your pup, petting him, giving lots of praise and lots of treats. 

More reading

We’re using ‘classical conditioning’ to help the dog make positive associations with being handled by different people.