Hands On Puppy

Hands On Puppy

All canines enjoy gentle hand contact. Your goal is to have your canine companion accept you touching him wherever and whenever. He should not object or become snarly when you approach this ‘hands-on’ exercise with him.

If the association is a positive interaction for him, he should accept examinations at the vet along with anyone touching or handling him. Pushy dominant puppies can be very protective and display aggression when touched.

He has to ‘trust’ your hands touching him…

  • On his body
  • On his ears
  • On his tail
  • His teeth, mouth
  • On his pads and paws

Start with a brief touch, building up to longer exams. Your hands need to be gentle and kind, with control. If he fusses DO NOT release him until he has settled. Supervise your children always, as they to build trust in your puppy by touching him.

Introducing and maintaining touch with your puppy:

Health Checks

Take the time and do a routine health inspection. Take a close look at his skin, part his coat and run your fingers through. Roll him over on his back, [this is a very submissive position for any canine] if he resists, wait until he is relaxed. Give him a word to think about, like ‘settle’ while you continue your examination.

Nail Trimming

Nail trimming can be problematic for most owners. Don’t delay this task. Begin by taking hold of his paw [ give him a word to think about, eg paw] while you are feeling in and around his pads, and touching his nails. Reward him for being ‘settled’, a verbal ‘good boy’ in an assertive voice tone is adequate. Don’t allow your puppy to withdraw his paw from your hand. You are the one to release the paw, this is essential for nail trimming.


Gently massage your pup’s ears with small circular movements, this is very calming for any canine. Once again give him a word, like ears, and praise.
Prepare your puppy for future dental care, by rubbing his teeth and gums with your finger, gently. Don’t spend too much time on this at first. Teach him to accept your fingers in his mouth. Easy does it, if he wants to nip! Give him an assertive ‘uh’ or ‘no’, and reward him when he accepts.


Talking to you puppy in a calm confident voice tone will reassure him. Don’t talk fast, as you will energize him. No need to shout or be pushy. Puppies respond to positive voice tone and assertive body language. Engage with him.

Valuable time spent with your puppy will pay long term dividends.

Touching and handling your puppy will strengthen the connection and the bond. If he feels loved and secure, his confidence will grow and you will have a well adjusted happy puppy.

Incorporate these touching exercises into your daily routine and your puppy will be well on his way to becoming a happy confident adult dog, that accepts,  ‘hands on‘.


written by Lee Hettiger

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