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Getting your Puppy used to 'Handling' - What Does it Really Mean?!

Updated: Aug 12, 2022

So you probably spend a lot of time giving your dog affection and knowing which area they love you to scratch! This kind of interaction is enjoyable for you both and it is likely to happen regularly. This is social connection and not what we would term as ‘handling’.

When we talk about ‘handling’ this can be considered to be more formal, more like a health check. Grooming and vet checks for example are going to be carried out throughout a dog’s life and it will be a much more pleasant experience if your puppy is relaxed, tolerant and calm.

In our puppy classes we encourage owners to practice a daily health check and handling exercise with their puppies. In order to build a trusting relationship with a puppy we need to respond to what our puppies are telling us. I know, puppies do not speak to us in our language, but if we watch their body language it tells us a lot!!! If, for example, we went to pick up our puppy’s paw and they moved their paw away from us, that is a clear sign they do not feel comfortable with it and we should therefore spend time breaking the action down into smaller actions. Such as, a light touch on the paw followed by a tasty treat, this will help the puppy to feel more positive about his paw being touched.

By practicing this exercise regularly and gradually extending this practice to all areas of their body you will be preparing your puppy for their first trip to the groomers! Whilst grooming makes our dogs look super smart it also is very important to keep our dogs healthy.

For example, nail/ claw care is super important!!!Keeping your dog's claws at an appropriate length will contribute to your dog's comfort. The nail embeds into the last digital bone, so whatever happens with the nail taps into the bone. Therefore long nails permanently engaging in the floor may put pressure on this bone, which can make the dog feel uncomfortable. Additionally the nails supply information to the brain about where the foot is, if the nails are permanently engaged it may give the message to the brain that the dog needs to rock backwards because they are on a slope and may therefore even change their overall body posture.

Groomers will want to trim your puppy or dogs nails so why not help your puppy prepare for this by getting them used to the nails being touched and gradual pressure being applied. Have a look at how easy it is to do in my video below.

If you do all this work helping your puppy feel confident with handling experiences it is vital that you select a groomer for your puppy that will focus on providing a positive first experience! Before the 2nd lockdown I went to visit Harriett from Harriett’s Dog Parlour. Harriett takes great care to help build the puppies confidence with being groomed, this is so important! If a dog trusts the groomer and feels comfortable then they will be relaxed throughout the grooming process as demonstrated by George in the below video!

Contact Harriett she is ready to meet your puppy or dog!

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