This can often be taught quickly with some well-placed treats and a clicker (or marker word like “good” or “yes”). Steps:
- Get out your towel or mat and have your dog sit-stay while he watches you place a few treats under the mat.
- Release your dog to go get the treats. Many dogs will quickly start pawing at the mat to get at the treats.
- As soon as your dog starts pawing, mark (click or say your marker word) and reward with another treat on top of the mat.
- After a few trials, stop putting treats under the mat and see if your dog will still try to paw at the mat.
- Start adding a verbal cue like “wipe” before your dog starts pawing.
If your dog just won't paw at the mat or you don't have time to train this skill (it will take a lot of repetition so in the meantime you might need a way to clean his or her feet more thoroughly), consider helping your pup associate positive thoughts with getting their feet wiped if your dog doesn't particularly enjoy this event. After coming inside, wipe one paw at a time and feed a small treat before and after wiping your dog's foot. Soon your dog will learn to love to have his or her paws cleaned!