Responsible Pet Owners Month and Handling Your Dog


It’s important to have your dog used to handling both for everyday grooming and in the case of an emergency. Especially if you have a dog(s) who like poking their nose into every nook and cranny.

Ideally, you’d have your dog acclimated to handling starting from puppyhood but not all of us start off with a puppy. We adopted Mr. N when he was three but I’ve worked with him on this since then. He is not a wash and wear dog so he has to put up with a lot of grooming. I frequently tell him, if he doesn’t like it, he can come back in his next life as a short-haired dog but then he probably won’t be in our household because I like fluff.

I can clean Mr. N’s ears, brush his teeth, remove things from his mouth (like chicken bones), trim his eye hair and examine his paws. I can cut his nails in a pinch but I’ve quicked him twice so he usually goes to the groomer. I did teach him how to file down his nails using a filing board though.

Mr. N always gets treats and praise and petting when I have to groom/handle/examine him. So he’s used to it and tolerates it. A previous groomer told me that he was the only dog that didn’t try to bite her that day! And if your dog isn’t used to it, start off with baby steps. Acclimate them slowly so they’re comfortable and relaxed throughout the whole process.

Things happen. Sometimes your dog will end up with a face full of burrs. And you will have to remove them one by one with your fingers. You and your dog will be much more comfortable in this situation if your dog is already tolerant of handling. I promise.

How does your dog(s) feel about handling?

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20 Responses

  1. Beth

    February 2, 2015 2:59 pm

    Oh dear! Poor Mr. N with those burrs! I'm glad he's so good at being handled. Barley lets me do just about anything to her. Brushing her teeth is a struggle–she'll let me get some of them, but she doesn't like to hold still long enough to get all of them, but I figure some is better than none!

  2. Groovy Goldendoodles

    February 2, 2015 5:37 pm

    Such valuable tips. Handling Harley started at a really early age for those same reasons. I am part of the "love fluff" club and I knew he would have to become accustomed to me and a groomer. He's done well, but I'm like you – I stay away from the nail clipping. Great post!

  3. Janet Keefe

    February 2, 2015 10:27 pm

    I wrote a bit about this today! Luke is awful about being handled, and last fall when he had a tick on him, we just could not get it off. We don't have the option of going to the groomer or vet to do these things, since he is fearful of strangers. So we'll just keep taking those baby steps and hope that we can get where we need to be.
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

  4. Jackie Bouchard

    February 3, 2015 2:00 am

    Great tips! Rita was 7 months when we got her, but I tried to make a point of handling her feet and whatnot. We didn't know to do that way back when we had our Bailey beagle as a pup, so she always had a problem with getting her nails trimmed.

  5. Lauren Miller

    February 3, 2015 3:01 am

    Yep, you're right! Handling is very important! The girls are okay with most stuff. We still have some drama with toe nail trims but for the most part they are good about everything.

  6. Cathy Armato

    February 3, 2015 4:04 am

    I love the fluff too! Phoebe is great about being handled, although she doesn't like it at all when I clip her nails. Isis on the other hand is pretty picky about too much handling. She's more of an independent spirit, must be the Husky in her! I need to work on that with her – you're right it's important to be able to handle our dogs in all instances.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Cathy, Isis & Phoebe

  7. Lara Elizabeth

    February 3, 2015 3:57 pm

    This is so important! Boca is wonderful about being handled, and that has been such a blessing as we navigate her ongoing eye issue with 4x daily drops and trips to the vet. Ruby needs work – she is a wiggle worm.

  8. Jen Gabbard

    February 4, 2015 12:49 am

    Oh dear that's quite a face full of burrs. It's something we work on regularly, but for some reason Laika's still really picky about her rear feet. I swear I can do anything to that dog but she doesn't want me touching those back paws ( I had the vet exam them to make sure nothing was wrong or painful) . Great advice for anyone getting a dog.

  9. Cascadian Nomads Bethany

    February 7, 2015 3:44 am

    Excellent reminders and advice here. I have experienced both trying to desensitize a rescue and puppies. Honestly, it is hard not to get frustrated and to stay positive when I know I did everything right but a dog still is fussy about certain handling. Why? Why?!? 🙂 Brychwyn has always hated having his feet touched and Huxley is SO fussy about being brushed. Like you do with Mr. N, I also joke with Huxley about his poor choice in being born a rough collie if he hates brushes so much. I tell him he should come back as a smooth collie!

  10. JoeHx

    February 23, 2018 7:39 am

    Princess, my pit mix, does okay with bathing and such, except when it comes to getting her nails cut. She hates getting her nails cut – she acts almost as if you’re trying to kill her! Niko, the cockapoo, goes to the groomer regularly since he doesn’t shed and his fur can get quite long and poofy.

  11. Jana Rade

    February 23, 2018 4:25 pm

    Teaching dogs that being handled is okay is so important. For things you describe, for veterinary care. Our guys have always been fine with being handled. They had their share of burs, ticks and other stuffs removed too.

  12. Beth

    February 25, 2018 9:35 am

    Every vet I’ve ever had has recommended that we get our dogs used to being touched. When we adopted Theo, he was uncomfortable having his feet touched. He lets us touch his feet now, even tickle his toes, but we take him to the vet to have his toenails clipped. (And they muzzle him for everyone’s safety.)

  13. Jana Rade

    July 29, 2018 2:23 pm

    Cookie is a very good girl and puts up with any handling we decide to inflict on her. She seems to understand that we only do things to her for her benefit.

  14. maureen

    July 29, 2018 6:56 pm

    Brooklyn is not good – put she’s still a puppy. Rosa is much better but you can hear her deep breaths, the anxiety rising. It’s nice when a dog doesn’t mind, makes everything that much easier.

  15. sadieandco

    July 30, 2018 6:08 am

    We love the ‘fluffs’, too. And similarly, we adopted our pack when they were older. We worked with them as soon as we could to get them used to touch and also to learn to trust us. It certainly helps us be able to remove burrs. So many burrs!


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