One of the most popular methods of paw
drying is to use a towel, pick up each paw and manually wipe the paw
until it is dry and clean, or until the dog takes the paw back. The
process is repeated with each paw until all four paws are done.
Some people use floor mats for the dog to
walk or stand on, placed by the door where the dog enters the house. We
hope that when they walk on a mat, it will dry their paws before they
enter the house.
Sometimes we set one or two or more floor
mats down, leading up to the door. We do this in an effort to dry and
clean paws and hope our dog will walk on at least some of the mats. Have
you ever noticed that dogs like to take the path of least resistance? At
least as long as they don’t have to go too far out of their way to get
where they want to go. This tendency is the opposite of what we want
them to do, namely, walk on the mats carefully placed in their path
leading up to the door. The idea is that if we put enough floor mats
down where the dog will walk, their feet will be dry and clean when they
reach the door. This is actually a very workable method. The more a dog
walks on a mat that is absorbing moisture, dislodging debris, collecting
dirt and mud, the cleaner their feet will be when they reach the door.
Note: the bigger the dog, the more area (mats) needed to do this job
some homes, mats are used that are not very absorbent. The dog parent
may not realize that the dog will have to spend some time, taking many
steps to get the paws dry using non-absorbing mats or carpet remnants.
If the dog parent wants to make sure those paws are dry and will not
make wet paw prints on the floor, a very long runway of floor mats may
be necessary. Then, to our dismay, once the runway of mats are in place
our dog chooses to walk not on the mats, but along side the mats, en
route to the door. Why don’t they walk where we want them to walk??
Isn’t it ironic that dogs really do want to please their parent? Unless
we fully utilize every step our dog takes while walking on a mat, using
an effective, absorbing, cleaning mat, the dog is unlikely to be
successful in drying their own feet to please the parent.
This brings us to the concept that maybe the
dog could acquire some skills to help clean their own feet! Wow... YES!!
If mats were used that are highly absorbent and designed for drying dog
feet, it would take far fewer mats and much less time to get the job
Ideas or techniques for training dogs to
walk on floor mats:
Using the collar, lead the dog to walk
on the floor mat. At the same time, offer much praise and love to
the dog for walking where you want them to walk. This technique may
require a lot of work and not work very well with some dogs.
Use a stocking from the parent that has
been used at least one day. Rub the stocking in a stroking manner on
the mat where you want the dog to walk. Usually, the dog will sniff
the area on the mat where you have rubbed and at the same time; take
a couple of steps on the mat. Remember, it usually takes more than a
couple of steps, even with the best paw drying mat available, to get
paws dry and clean. The effectiveness of this technique is limited
by how much area of mats the dog walks on smelling the scent or if
the dog becomes comfortable in walking on the mat.
Place one or two good paw drying floor
mats just outside the door where the dog enters the house. Place the
mats so when the dog exits through the door, the first thing they
walk on is the mat. When the dog is ready to come inside, and is
standing on the mat, hold the collar and gently nudge the dog side
to side or in a turning direction, causing them to take repeated
steps as they move around. Be sure there is enough mat area to keep
the dog on the mat for several steps. This technique works only
marginally well when using conventional floor mats. It works much
better when using mats that are designed specifically for drying
Training dogs to dry or clean their own paws
is easier with ample mat area. The ability of a dog to dry their own
paws depends very much on the absorbency of the mat and the total mat
area available to walk on.
SCIENCE of Paw Drying and Cleaning
How do we physically remove water and yard materials
such as dirt, debris, mud, grass clippings, mold spores, bacteria and
pollen from the dog’s paws? We refer to the process and the materials
used to accomplish this as the “Science of Paw Cleaning.”
Getting the water removed from your dog’s
feet is the most important part in eliminating paw prints on the floor
and in being able to have clean paws. If paws are dry, there is no mud,
and debris will not stick to dry dog paws as well. Hardwood fiber paper
that used to make paper towels offer the fastest, most effective
Water increases the stickiness of your dog’s
paws because of ‘surface tension.’ Have you ever seen a needle float on
water? The needle floats because of surface tension on top of the water.
It is like a very thin film of plastic wrap; if you prick the water
surface with the needle, it is like the needle breaking through the
plastic wrap and it will no longer float. The needle floats because of
surface tension and a surface that is only a few molecules thick.
Surface tension creates the ‘stickiness’ that causes grass clipping and
debris to stick to wet paws.
Another method that grass clippings and
debris attaches to paws is by micro hooks. Velcro has two parts, the
hook and the
loop. When the two parts are brought together and they touch, hooks of
one piece are hooked into the loops of the other piece, holding the
pieces together. When the pieces are pulled apart, it causes each
individual hook or loop to bend until they break free from one another.
similar process happens when organic materials such as grass clippings,
pine needles or seed pods touch the hair on dog’s feet. The dog hair may
act as the loop and the micro fibers of the grass or seed pod act as the
hook. If you look at a blade of grass under a microscope with 40X to 80X
magnification, you see many little micro hooks on the edge of the blade
of grass. When a dog romps around in the wet yard, as those hairy paws
touch grass, leaves and just about everything else, the grass clippings
and other debris attaches to the paw hairs. With attached debris, the
dog becomes a transportation system to carry part of the yard into the
To pull off or remove grass clippings and
other debris from dog paws, something must physically touch the blade of
grass or whatever is stuck to the paw and get it to fall off. Then, when
the grass or debris is brushed off the paws, we want it to stay in the
mat so it is not carried into the house.
The more steps a dog takes on a mat that
brushes their feet as they walk, the cleaner their feet will be. The
walking dog creates a brushing action with every step. When bristles
touch the dirt and debris stuck to their paws, it is loosened and
removed. This material can then be trapped in the mat base and does not
get carried into the house. Note: The depth of brushing action of a mat
is limited to the length of the bristles or fabric fibers. Short
bristles will only remove debris that is a short distance (the length of
the bristles), up the dog’s paws.
The more steps a dog takes on a mat that is
highly absorbent, the more water is removed from their feet. When water
is removed from the paws, there are less mold spores, bacteria and
pollen carried by the water into the house.