The Importance of Puppy Handling Preparation
A crucial part of puppy socialization is making sure your puppy can be handled on a regular basis. Think about when you take them to the vet or groomers. Their paws, ears, mouths and bellies get poked, prodded, pulled and pushed. Some dogs can become anxious and defensive in this situation if they have not been handled in this manner before.
As soon as you bring your puppy home, start handling. Frequently touching your puppy all over will desensitize him to being handled. Lift up paws and pretend to clip nails (or actual clip them if he needs it). Look into his ears and mouth. Make all these things very positive. Reward your puppy for calm behavior. Young puppies may not put up much of a fight, but as they start entering new stages of development, they might begin to resist more. Continue with the handling. Make sure that you and your family members are able to clip nails, give a bath, and do routine body checks with minimal struggling. Ask visitors to do this as well so your puppy is used to being handled by different people.
Your puppy will likely have multiple vet visits during the critical periods of development, so bring your clicker and delicious treats along with you! Reward your puppy for calm behavior all throughout the visit, from the lobby to standing on the table. This will help build a positive association with seeing the vet. Many vets will appreciate your effort and won’t mind giving some treats themselves to help with this process.
If you plan on bringing your dog to get groomed on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to bring them to a groomer during the critical periods, even if just for a bath or to do some training in the lobby. Do some research into the groomer, and make sure they are willing to work with your puppy a little to give them a positive, fun experience at the groomer.