Training Advice

Overcoming Avoidance

Sometimes our four legged friends just don’t want us to touch them. Perhaps they have always been this way, or maybe they’ve developed an avoidance since a recent trip to the groomer (discuss it with your groomer and seriously consider a switch). Unfortunately, this behavior can put our pets’ health and safety (and yours) at risk. Nails need to be trimmed, teeth need to be brushed, and if your pet has an injury you both need to be safe while you clean and dress it.



The best way to start is to gently, but firmly, put your furry friend into a submissive position. (YOU’RE NOT TRYING TO DOMINATE YOUR DOG) Any position where he is comfortable and on his back or side will do. This makes your pet easier to control. Feed a few favorite treats, give belly rubs, talk gently and be relaxed. If this is a favorite petting position anyway, you have more work to do today. If not, simply wait until your pet is calm, release and repeat. When they seem calm you can move on to the next phase.


When your pet is happy to lay next to you submissively, pull out the treats! Just as they start to eat their treat carefully and casually touch the avoidance spot. (let’s say feet) Stop touching before the rest of the treat is gone.  While you redirect with treats, slowly become more bold touching their feet and playing with toes, eventually only giving the treat when your pet relaxes while you’re touching his toes. If he or she struggles (you’ve moved too quickly), calmly continue to hold his feet and redirect him with a tasty morsel.


Within a week or two of 5- minute practice a few times a day, your furry friend will look forward to your toe time together. Please note that if your pet has a medical issue like severely matted fur, ingrown nails, or a severe injury, he needs to see a vet. This exercise can be practiced when your pet is healthy.