“Muddy paw print” by Becky is licensed under CC BY 2.0

With cooler weather comes rain, sleet, snow and ice. Wiping your German Shepherd’s paws after every walk is not only good for your carpets and flooring, but helps ensure your dog’s feet aren’t harboring burrs or don’t get burned by road salt.

If your German Shepherd is one of those who always kicks up the grass and dirt behind him after he does his business, the bulk of the groundwork is already laid out for you. What you need to do is use the positive reinforcement technique while speaking the phrase you want him to associate with this behavior. Tell him “Good ‘wipe your feet’, Rex! Good ‘wipe your feet’!” repeatedly when you catch him in the act, while scratching his favorite spot and treating him to a cookie. This will encourage him to try with all of his might to replicate the action.

The next step to take is getting him to repeat it in the appropriate place. Once he has caught on to the command of wiping his feet, bring him to the area you want him to begin performing this trick. For example, walk him to your welcome mat or a rug inside your front door. When he is standing on the rug or mat, use the phrase he is accustomed to. Make sure you have a treat, and that he knows it.

If your German Shepherd never kicks up the ground, getting him to perform the act is the first step. What you can do instead is train him to wait on a mat or rug so that you can wipe his feet off for him. Use the basic “Stay” or “Wait” cue every time he comes in the door. Wipe his paws, telling him “Wipe your feet” or even just “Foot!” Give him a special treat after each foot. Pretty soon he’ll be holding up each foot for you to wipe.

Your friends and neighbors will want to know how you manage to keep your floors so clean!

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