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Teaching a Dog to Wipe its Feet

January 6, 2012

I promised a friend that I would explain how Cooper was taught to wipe his feet. It was actually insanely simple, but it takes a little patience.

If your dog knows how to “touch” or “paw,” then you can just tap the spot you want your dog to wipe. This method is infinitely easier, though.

First, you start with a towel and treats that your dog likes. These are called Charlee Bear Dog Treats. They’re a little like oyster crackers for doggies and each one is only 3 calories.

You want to push back the edge of the towel and put several treats as far under it as possible.

It’s not really necessary to make the dog lay on your towel as you’re doing this, but I like to torment Cooper by making him stay as I put treats in random places. When the treats are in place, cover them again with the towel.

When you’re ready, tell your dog to “Find the treat!” Anytime he paws at the towel, you give him a treat and say “Yes!” (or click, depending on your prefered training method). Eventually, the dog should start pawing more vigorously. You should reward it each time.

I usually stand on the edge of the towel to keep it from bunching up as Cooper wipes his paws, but it was hard to take pictures while doing that.

Once your dog is consistently pawing at the towel, you should start giving him the cue to “Wipe your feet!”

It should be noted that this only works on the front paws. Most dogs won’t wipe their back paws (a small number will kick out their back feet and you have to catch them doing it and then reward them immediately while marking it with the words “Good wipe”). To get them to “wipe” their back paws, you actually have to teach them to “spin” on a towel. This is another simple trick that is generally taught by putting a treat in front of the dog’s nose and luring him to turn in a circle as you tell him “Spin!” When he’s completed the full circle, you mark it with a treat and the words “Good spin!”

Of course, after all the training, Cooper gets a little tired.

He also has to let me know just how bored he is with the whole process. Or, rather, how upset he is that I am paying more attention to the camera than to him. 🙂

From → Animals, Cooper

  1. Amazing!

  2. Becky Pearce permalink

    am going to try this today!! thank you…. might save the kitchen floor

    • I hope it helps! Cooper is a master at it now. It doesn’t remove all the water, but enough to keep the floors from getting muddy.

  3. What a cutie!

  4. Troy permalink

    Not to blow my own horn but great minds think alike…I actually used the exact same method while trying to teach my dog to wipe his feet. At first I tried holding his paws and moving them in a wiping motion and rewarding him but that technique failed. And then the idea suddenly came to me to put a treat under the towel and the results were instant. It’s so simple yet amazingly effective way to teach him to wipe their paws…

    However, I have failed to teach him to wipe his back paws hence the reason I am now searching for advice online. My dog is great at using his front paws, but it’s as if he isn’t aware that he even has paws at the back. I would appreciate further advice on your method about spinning on the towel. Thank you.

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