Face it. Planet Earth is one big ball of dirt, some of which is bound to get inside your house — especially on shoes and paws. While you can take care of your own footwear, your dog needs help to keep mud where it belongs: outdoors.
Prevention is the best cure, starting with well-trimmed paws. “Rounding the paw means cutting fur short both between the pads and on top of the paw,” says Dana Harrison, a PetSmart groomer. “It minimizes the amount of dirt that clings to feet and makes them easier to clean.”
Training comes into play as well. Kathryn Newman, owner of Augusta Dog Training in Minneapolis, Minn., taught her canines to respond to specific requests. “When I say ‘wait,’ it means ‘stop and stand,’ so they don’t sit in more mud or a puddle,” she said; her dogs also know the words “mat” or “blanket,” where they go to be wiped down. In addition, getting your dog accustomed to having his paws handled is definitely worth the time invested.
Near an entryway, maintain a dog-dedicated cleaning station stocked with leash and pickup bags for outbound trips, and paw wipes, towels and waterless shampoo for use upon return.
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Scraper mats help, too; with their bristly, dirt-trapping fibers on top and waterproof rubber backing, they catch a lot of muck at the door. L.L. Bean’s “Waterhog” mats are one example; you can find more by searching online for “dog door mats.”
Paw-cleaning accessories include products like Spotless Paw, a glove with a microfiber palm that attracts dirt, and Paw Plunger, a mug lined with bristles that you fill with warm water to rinse paws one at a time. Of course, old-school solutions work, too: spread-out newspapers, a small bucket or basin of water, and an old towel do a fine job on muddy paws.