Living with MUD and Dogs
Mud Season: the price we pay for living in Maine!
We try to be ready for it here at "Camp Logan." With multiple dogs in the house, it can be challenging to keep things clean when 8-20 dirty paws are coming through the door many times a day. Luckily, there are many options to help get us through this messy time of year.
Positive handling is key. Cleaning off paws, or any part of your dog's body, needn't be a struggle; it can even be a special bonding time. Simultaneously feed and handle your dog for very short sessions at a time to get him happy about it. In the beginning, handle just a few seconds, pause and repeat. I use a refillable food tube filled with canned dog food for this purpose.
Limit your dog's access to the rest of the house by closing doors, putting up barriers (such as an "exercise pen" stretched out) or baby gates.
If you don't want your muddy dog to race inside and plant his signature everywhere, train him to immediately turn towards the closed door as soon as he comes in. It's easy! Put him on leash outside, show him the yummy treats you have, then invite him to come inside. Hold tight! The instant he comes through the door, close it and feed him the treats with your hand held against the closed door. Repeat. [You can also use this strategy with the car door to keep your dog from instantly bolting away the moment you let him out.]
Keep a leash attached to the door handle (you might have to loop it around the handle on the other side of the door to keep it secure) to provide a handy tethering point. With one particularly over-exuberant adolescent guest dog whose impulse control left a lot to be desired, I spread peanut butter on the inside of the door to keep her busy.
"Cookies in the Shower!"
Our bathroom happens to be right inside the front door. We can send the dogs directly to the shower stall for cleaning. We play "cookies in the shower!" to ensure it's a wonderful place to be. I ask the dogs to stay, toss treats into the shower stall, then release them with "shower!" You can play a similar game with your dog - choose a convenient spot where you'd like him to be for cleaning off and name it something fun.
Train your pup to love to put his front feet up on a low stool or other similar object. This position is fantastic for cleaning off pups – the dog is stationary, nicely stretched out and it's easier to see and reach him.
The Right Brush
I use a small horse brush to remove dirt – it works much better than a towel which tends to move dirt around.
Don't blame your dog for tracking dirt and mud in.... you can train him to have very civilized manners so you can clean him up easily.