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Why Do Some Dogs Hate Having Their Paws Touched?

Dogs are pretty tolerant of humans as a general rule when it comes to how they allow us to touch and handle them, and many dogs actively enjoy having their paws touched and massaged, particularly if you use products like paw wax on them or massage their paws to help them to chill out.

Dogs also usually learn to allow us to handle their paws from a fairly early age, as many dogs are taught to offer a paw to shake on command as one of their very first skills. However, some dogs seem to really hate having their paws touched or having a paw lifted, which can be problematic if you need to check your dog’s paws over, or trim their claws.

There are a range of different reasons for why this might be, and not all of them relate to the paws themselves! In this article, we will look at why some dogs hate having their paws touched and picked up, and what it may mean. Read on to learn more.

Fear of nail clipping

A large number of dogs dislike having their nails clipped, for a variety of reasons. Being restrained and having to stay still, the snapping sound of the clipper and the fact that nail clipping may be performed by a stranger-like a dog groomer or veterinary nurse-all contribute to putting dogs outside of their comfort zones. Also, the nerves and blood-rich capillaries that feed the nails are very sensitive, and it is all too easy to accidentally nick the quick of the nail and cause pain.

If this happened to your dog even once and a long time ago, they will remember it-and so, be reluctant or frightened of having their nails clipped in the future. If they think that having their paws handled means nail clipping, they might react badly even if you had no intention of clipping or trimming their nails at all.

Problems with the claws

The claws of the dog wear down naturally when walking on hard surfaces, but if your dog only ever walks on grass or doesn’t walk much at all, the claws can grow overly long, and then cause problems such as growing twisted, or curling over to press onto the pad of the paw.

Problems like these can be very painful, and may lead to a reluctance from your dog to let you touch their paws-so it is important to keep your dog’s nails in good condition, and speak to your vet if one of the nails is growing strangely or causing problems.

There may be a sore, graze or cut on their paw

Sores, cuts and grazes, or even foreign bodies like a thorn stuck in the paw can be painful for your dog, and this will quickly lead to defensive reactions if you try to see what is going on or check your dog’s paws over.

However, this makes it even more important to check the paws and find out what is going on, which again, may require a trip to the vet.


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Foot corns

Did you know that dogs can develop foot corns? They can! This is, however, very uncommon, aside from within certain sighthound breeds like the Greyhound, for whom foot corns are a relatively common occurrence.

For sighthound breeds particularly, it is important to check for corns, and to ask a vet who is familiar with foot problems in sighthound breeds to check them out.

Allergies and irritants

Allergens can cause a wide range of different responses and reactions in dogs, which can make it very hard to get to the bottom of the problem. For allergies that lead to itchiness and irritation of the skin, the feet are often particularly affected, which can lead to your dog obsessively chewing and licking their feet, particularly between the toes.

If your dog seems to be chewing their feet a lot and dislikes having them handled, ask your vet about potential allergies.

There could be something stuck between their toes or under the nail sheath

Small particles like grass seeds, burs and grit may get stuck between your dog’s toes or even become stuck under the nail sheath, which is likely to be very irritating and painful for your dog. This will make them reluctant to let you have a look at their foot, and is something to check for.

Bone and joint problems

Problems that affect the bones or joints can lead to a reluctance to have the paws handled, whether that be arthritis, a congenital condition or the results of an injury. Lifting or holding the paw or manipulating the limb can exacerbate such pain, even if the pain is not in that foot or limb-particularly in the case of spinal issues.

Additionally, pain within the leg in question itself but not in the actual paw can again cause a reluctance to let you hold, rotate or manipulate the paw.

They might be ticklish!

Finally, it is also possible that your dog might just be ticklish. If you touch your dog’s paws too lightly or gently, this sensation may be ticklish to the tough pads of the paws, leading to twitching and annoyance!


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