• Linda Healy

Hands-on care with puppy

Your puppy has to get used to being handled on all parts of his body. He'll need this for a lifetime of grooming and paw checks, ear exams and all the other hygiene routines. To get him used to this, pet him all over. Touch him from the top of the nose to the tip of the tail and every place in between.

Lots of puppies are sensitive about having their feet touched, but he'll get over it if you deal with it the right way. Sit down to a good book or your favorite TV show with your puppy on your lap or beside you. Then stroke him in places he enjoys being petted until he relaxes so much he's nearly asleep. Continue stroking his body, but include his feet as well. If he tenses, go back to petting only his body until he's sleepy enough that you can try his feet again. After he falls asleep again gently massage the toes of all four feet. Soon your puppy will relax and let you touch his toes when he's awake too.

When doing daily or weekly grooming, such as brushing or trimming nails, be gentle but matter of fact-not apologetic or cajoling. Use just the amount of firmness it takes to stay in control and get the job done. If you stop brushing because he struggles, you're letting him control the situation. Next time, he will simply struggle sooner or harder.

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