Puppy paws take a lot of abuse. They protect your pooch's joints from shock while running, jumping and playing; they abrade and wear on rough surfaces; and they provide protection against surface temperature extremes. Take care of them starting early in life. Regular cleaning removes grit and muck, and allows you to check for splinters and other injuries. Clean paws mean a cleaner home. If you have any questions or concerns about a puppy's paw, consult your vet.
Handle your pup's paws starting very early in life to prevent resistance when it comes time to clean them. The Michigan Humane Society recommends beginning by touching her paws with your hands or a towel while they are on the floor, then giving her a treat while saying "yes" when she remains calm. Later, reward her if she willingly places her own paws on the towel or picks them up off the ground for you to wipe.
Rinse your pup's paws when she comes inside after playing in your yard or going for a walk. Leaving a bucket of water and a towel near your door allows you to pick up the pup and quickly swish her paws in the water to remove mud, ice, snow and other materials before wiping them dry.
Stand over your puppy and lift each paw, one at a time, to wipe away caked-on mud with a wet rag. If your puppy is very small, place her in your lap for easy cleaning. Give your puppy a treat when finished.
Clean dirty or sticky paws with a gentle soap and warm water, when necessary. This is most easily done in the shower or bathtub. When lifting your puppy's paws, keep one arm around her to prevent slipping. Use only a soap or shampoo intended for use on puppies. Human soaps and shampoos can cause dryness and irritation.
Lift each of your puppy's paws to wash between each toe with a soapy washcloth. This is best done with your puppy in your lap, but if she's too big for that, have her lie next to you. Check for foreign objects stuck in your puppy's paw pads. The ASPCA suggests removing pebbles, broken glass and other debris with a pair of tweezers. Report any pad injuries or signs of infection to your vet.
Rinse your pooch's paws by pouring clean, cool water over them in the tub or by holding each under a running hose or faucet. Again, stand over your puppy and lift each paw individually to make sure she does not slip or fall.
Dry each paw with a soft towel. Make sure you offer a treat or other reward for a job well done.