Train Your Dog Not to Track Mud in the House

Keep those muddy paw prints outside.
By: Valerie Trumps
Muddy dog waits outside.

Springtime brings beautiful flowers, but the mud and dirt they grow in can wreak havoc on your home. Dirty dogs are known for tracking mud into the house. To prevent mishaps, teach your dog to stay still while you wipe him down—or better yet, train him to wipe off those filthy paws himself.

Ticklish Feet

Most muddy dogs are not crazy about having their paws touched or held, but you will need to overcome this sensitivity to get the dirt off of his feet. Teaching your dog to do what you want him to do should start when he is a puppy. Begin handling his paws after you first get him home—gently rub between his toes, hold his paw for short amounts of time, turn his foot over and inspect it, stroke the top and bottom, and give him light paw massages. Talk to him softly while you’re doing this, throwing in a “good boy” here and there. These steps will also assist you with useful things like checking for an injury or clipping his nails.

Stay and Wipe

The key to getting Fido to remain still while you clean off his feet after a romp outside is to wear him out first. Dogs tend to be more compliant after they’ve been worn out with vigorous play, fast walking, or even running. Prior to leaving for your walk around the block with your pooch, place a towel right outside the door. Upon arriving home, command him to sit and stay while you clean off his feet. If you’ve trained him to let you handle his paws, he should go along without a fuss. Even if his feet don’t appear dirty after a walk, clean them with the towel anyway to get him used to the walk-and-wipe routine. Give your pup a treat afterward to reinforce his good behavior.

Self-Cleaning Doggy

According to Pamela Dennison, the author of Civilizing the City Dog, use your pup’s natural hunting instinct to get him to actually wipe his feet on a towel. While he is watching, put a towel on the floor near the door and place some strong-smelling treats under it. When he sniffs the towel, click with a clicker used for training and drop his reward treat onto the towel. After your pooch has performed this a few times, refrain from clicking while watching if he paws the towel on his own to get at the treats. Each time he does, no matter how slight of a paw movement it may be, click and treat. As he ups his pawing intensity, name the behavior “wipe your feet” (which is your cue) while he’s doing it. Once your dog is pawing regularly, watch him carefully and say your cue immediately before he begins the motion, clicking and giving him a treat for obeying your command.

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