How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Dr. Barbara Your Own Question
Dr. Barbara
Dr. Barbara, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 1614
Experience:  Over 30 years experience in veterinary medicine and surgery.
56364752
Type Your Dog Question Here...
Dr. Barbara is online now

I have a labradoodle who is 6 years old who has always had

Customer Question

I have a labradoodle who is 6 years old who has always had an issue with anyone touching his paws and legs. I now have to use a muzzle if I try to dry his legs and paws. The front legs are not as bad but his back ones are the worst. This has been getting worse recently and it is frightening because he just suddenly turns like Jekyll and Hyde then he is very subdued. He has caught me a couple of times bruising me but not breaking skin. I cannot trust him with anyone and always warn people in case they ask for a paw or accidentally touch his leg. A recent trip to get his booster vaccination was traumatic too. There are only 2 adults at home and we have had him since he was a puppy. I must admit I am becoming afraid of him and I am frightened for my grandchildren too. Please help.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Barbara replied 2 years ago.
Dr. Barbara :

Hi, Welcome to JustAnswer. I'm a licensed veterinarian and I'll be happy to help. I'm sorry to hear about your dilemma with Charlie. Unfortunately, many to most dogs have learned to hate having their feet handled at all. Generally, this starts with a painful nail trimming when they were pups, or never having their feet handled as pups so they are frightened by this.

Dr. Barbara :

This will not be an easy turn around for Charlie! He needs to desensitized and counter conditioned, and this could take several weeks. In the meantime, you need to make sure that your grandchildren are safe, because Charlie's fear of having his feet touched could definitely lead to his biting. . .as you have experienced.

Dr. Barbara :

Desensitization means he needs to have his feet just handled by you daily, and as many times as you can throughout the day (1-3 times). At first, of course, have him muzzled. Start slowly and at a point on his legs where he is not reacting at all. . .then give him praise and a treat (the treat is counterconditioning in this case. . .substituting an enjoyment for the fear). Keep working with him daily in this way, moving lower and lower on his legs gradually.

Dr. Barbara :

If you get to a point where he is growling, tell him NO very firmly and of course do not give the treat. The next time you can show him the desired treat and again (with him muzzled) move gradually down his legs talking softly to him, trying to move into the area that was upsetting to him. The more you do this, the more he will trust you and trust that he won't be hurt and in fact will get a treat.

Dr. Barbara :

This is very time consuming (I realize), and there are no guarantees, but this should work for you and Charlie.

JACUSTOMER-gvkgf5uf- :

Will I just have to keep him away from grandchildren then as I cannot see how this will work with anyone else?

Dr. Barbara :

Do you mean anyone else around?

JACUSTOMER-gvkgf5uf- :

Well if I am the one who is working on him he will hopefully trust me but anyone else?

Dr. Barbara :

Thanks! Yes, that would be best to have him gain trust with one person at first. Then you can branch out with other people showing him the treat and then gently touching his feet. Hopefully, by then, he will be relaxed enough about his feet being touched, and want the treat enough, that this stage would be easy.

Dr. Barbara :

How old are your grandchildren?

JACUSTOMER-gvkgf5uf- :

Nine year old twins but they both have slight "Special Needs" so they can be difficult.

Dr. Barbara :

What do you think; or maybe actually you don't know yet. Once you've desensitized Charlie to having you and your husband (possibly) handling his feet, then you could try your grandchildren?

Dr. Barbara :

If you have 9 year old boys they may not be trustworthy enough in Charlie's eyes.

Dr. Barbara :

I'm just picturing that they are quite rambunctious!!!

JACUSTOMER-gvkgf5uf- :

I'll definitely give it a try. The boys do want to play with him so I never leave them unsupervised and they are always reminded to be careful. The boys are VERY rambuncious. Hahaha.

Dr. Barbara :

:-) !!! Very good that you are monitoring their play with Charlie.

JACUSTOMER-gvkgf5uf- :

Thanks. I love all my boys to bits. Your advice is very gratefully received.

Dr. Barbara :

I have a 3 year old grandson, and he can be quite rambunctious too! I have just one sister and one daughter, so I've never been around young boys in my family before. Very fun, and very loved, but also pretty enervating at times.

Dr. Barbara :

You are very welcome!

JACUSTOMER-gvkgf5uf- :

I have one son and one daughter. My son has a daughter 18 who has applied to college to be a veterinary nurse. The twins were adopted by my daughter and her husband as they have had them since they were born. They were premature, hence the problems.

Dr. Barbara :

I wish your grand daughter best wishes in getting into the college to become a veterinary nurse. I know we sure need more certified nurses in our practices here, so there would be lots of jobs for her here!

Dr. Barbara :

I think adoption is wonderful. . .helps those who can't take care of their children, and helps families that have lots of love to give!

JACUSTOMER-gvkgf5uf- :

Thanks for your best wishes and your excellent advice. I'll let my granddaughter know. She will be encouraged. Better go now and gear myself up to tackle oor Charlie.

Dr. Barbara :

Take care and best of luck! Even after a rating, this thread will stay open for awhile, so let me know if any problems or questions come up.

JACUSTOMER-gvkgf5uf- :

I will. :)

Dr. Barbara and other Dog Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Dr. Barbara replied 2 years ago.
Hi Margeret,
Thank you so much for your very kind rating, and a bonus. . .greatly appreciated!
I'll be back in touch with in about a week, and there is no extra charge for this. Also, again, this thread stays open for awhile so if you run into any walls, please let me know.
Thank you again,
Dr. Barbara