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There is nothing worse than taking your old guy out for a nice walk out in the fresh air. At least, that is until he comes into the house, leaving muddy paw prints all over the house for you to clean up. If only there was a way to train him to wipe his paws before he comes in. He sees you do it all the time, so why hasn't he learned to follow suit? Because you haven't taken the time to train him.
Training an older dog to wipe his paws isn't really that hard, it's more about having the patience and taking the time to teach him than anything else. You don't even have to wait for wet weather for this, you can teach him to wipe his feet every time he comes in the house, solving the whole problem and at the same time keeping your floors much cleaner.
The task at hand is to teach your dog to wipe all four of his paws on the doormat before he comes in the house. While you might think this would be an easy task to teach your pup, it is a completely unnatural behavior to him. This means it will take longer than some tricks for him to learn. One thing you do need to understand is that no matter how much your dog wipes his paws on the mat, he is still likely to track a little mud and water into the house.
The good news is that you can start this training anytime since he is an older dog and should already know the basics. Do try and choose a time to train when there is no one else around and it's nice and quiet. Choose one door for training purposes and stick to it until he has mastered the skill of wiping his paws. Also, choose your training word up front and be sure to use the same one every time to avoid confusion.
All the supplies you'll really need for training your old pal to wipe his feet are some tasty treats and a towel or door mat. The only other things to have plenty of are patience and time to work on this every day. You should practice this every time you take your pup out to go potty or for a walk.
The Towel Method
Gather the goods
Gather up the things you need for training purposes, one towel, some treats, and your pup.
On the floor
Spread the towel out on the floor and hide a treat under it somewhere close to the middle of it.
Can he find the treat?
Tell your dog to find the treat. When he starts pawing at the towel, let him have the treat.
Introduce the command
Hide the treat again, but this time use the "wipe your paws" command. Keep repeating this until your dog learns to associate the command with wiping his feet on the towel and receiving a treat.
What if he only wipes his front paws
If he stops at his front paws, you can use a treat to get him spinning around chasing it, this will help him take care of his rear paws. With a little practice, your dog will use the towel you sit on the floor to wipe his paws each time he comes in.
The Doormat Method
On the mat
Start out by having your dog stand in front of the door on the doormat. Give him a treat when he stands in place.
If he attempts to escape
If your pup tries to escape, give him the 'stay' command and give him a treat when he settles down.
Watch his feet
Watch your pup's feet very closely. If he makes any kind of movement with them, say "Wipe your feet" and give him a treat.
Keep doing this for several days, this gives him time to associate the command with the action and the reward.
Keep working it
Keep working with your pup, slowly cutting down on the treats until he will wipe his paws every time just to hear you praise him.
The Treat Under the Mat Method
If you don't have a doormat
If for some reason you don’t already have a doormat, go ahead and pick one up and place it in front of the door you plan to use for training purposes. Use the same door for training to avoid confusion.
If you don’t have some treats handy, grab them at the same time you are buying the doormat. Go for the smelly ones your dog loves. They will be easier for him to find.
Place the treat
With your dog where he can't see what you are doing, hide the treat under one of the corners of the mat.
To the door
Go for a walk and then bring your dog up to the mat. Keep him on his leash while he sniffs at the mat and detects the smell of the treat.
When he paws
When your dog starts to paw at the mat to get at the treat, tell him to "Wipe his paws", give him a treat and praise him. If he tries to use his nose to get under the mat, step on it and make him use his paws.
The final step
The rest is all about practice. Make your dog wipe his paws every time you go for a walk come rain or shine. This way he will learn to wipe his paws no matter what and your floors will be that much cleaner.
By PB Getz
Published: 01/19/2018, edited: 01/08/2021