It is extremely important to teach your puppy that you can handle and restrain him. This will not only prevent problem behaviors, like not allowing you to clip their nails, but it also teaches your puppy to trust you. All responsible family members should practice handling the puppy so he is comfortable with everyone in his life.
Start gradually with each of these exercises, increasing the time each day in small increments.
Cradling– Gently roll the puppy onto his back and hold him there if you can. It is sometimes easier to sit on the floor with the puppy between your outstretched legs. If the puppy will not allow you to manipulate him gently on to his back, please get assistance from a trainer before continuing. Talk softly but confidently to him. As long as he is calm, pet and praise him. End on a positive point and do not push a pup past his comfort level.
Preparing Your Dog for the Vet– Most dogs aren’t restrained until they go to the vet for a shot or a check up. This can make the whole experience stressful for the dog (and you) as he struggles to get away. Instead, restrain your puppy like the vet would, give him a body hug, or gently hold his muzzle closed. Start by holding him for only a second and then giving him a treat. Slowly increase the time. This will teach him that being restrained is a good thing and it will allow him to be easily handled by the vet in a case of emergency.
Preventing Body Sensitivity– Some dogs develop issues with their tails, ears, or paws being touched. Not only is this bothersome but it can also be dangerous since you may not be able to properly diagnose a medical issue if you are unable to tell the difference between normal sensitivity and sensitivity brought on by illness or pain. Get your puppy used to being touched at an early age. Touch his tail and give him a treat. Look at his paw and give him a treat. Look in his mouth and give him a treat. Gently tug on his ear and give him a treat. This will help him learn that no matter what you do to him the outcome is always positive.
Grooming– Using a soft bristled brush, gently introduce your puppy to grooming. It is best to do this when the puppy is tired. Maneuver the puppy’s body so you can brush him all over. Handle him confidently and gently. At this point, do not worry about getting out all of the loose hair or snarls. Instead, get him comfortable with being brushed all over lightly, including his tail.
You are not the only one that will be interacting with your puppy. There will be vets, groomers, children, strangers, etc. Make sure you prepare your pup for this handling by practicing at least one of the exercises above each day. HOWEVER, if during training you notice any extreme discomfort (like growling, biting, or excessive fear) stop and consult a professional trainer before continuing on. Training is supposed to be fun, not traumatic, so don’t hesitate to ask for a second opinion if you have any questions or concerns.