Desensitisation: make your dog touch friendly
Some dogs have an area or even multiple areas that are very sensitive or ticklish to them when it is touched. Some react so much to being touched in their sensitive areas to the point where they won’t hold still or let you touch it at all. Some may even snap and bite when you try to touch that area.
So why is it really necessary to be able to hold and touch all the parts of your dog’s body? Why can’t you just accept they don’t like it and leave them well enough alone?
Being able to hold your dog’s feet when grooming is essential. You need to hold them for the following grooming tasks: Clipping toe nails, trimming the fur between the paw pads, checking feet for foreign bodies such as thorns and stones, and examining your dog for other injuries or cuts.
How can you get your dog to be less sensitive? To achieve this we base our technique on the Pavlovian Therapy:
Dogs was exposed to a bell before given food an after a while they would drool when they hear the bell ring even without receiving food.
Desensitization is a type of behavioural therapy, developed by a South African psychiatrist, based on Pavlovian therapy and is used to help effectively overcome anxiety disorders.
Try these steps for using the desensitisation technique successfully:
By starting to touch the sensitive area for only a few seconds and gradually over time increasing it, your dog will become use to touch and overcome sensitivity issues
- Pick up and set down the paws one at a time. Don’t hold them for any length of time, just a quick pick-up, look-see, and then put them down again. Don’t distress or upset your dog. you are showing your dog a weaker version of what you want him or her to get use to. By making it smaller or weaker, you make the reaction of your dog also weaker and smaller.
- Repeat the pick-up, look-see process over a period of days for as long as it takes until your dog becomes comfortable with the procedure. Everything has to be done slow and systematic.
- Gradually lengthen the amount of time you spend holding the paws
- Once your dog is used to touching, try a light two second massage, look-see and put them down again. Keep doing this again until your dog does not seem to get upset or mind what you are doing.
- Gradually increase the time massaging the paws without pushing the time too much.
Use high praise every time your dog successfully complete a little session. Eventually your dog will be used to having the feet handled and you will have achieved desensitising your dog! This desensitization technique can be used for ANY part of your dog’s body that is sensitive to touch. It can also be used for situations that your dog is fearful of, be it male visitors, children or certain objects. This also works not just on dogs but also on cats and other animals…and humans!