Extract from Aunty Kaye’s Doggy Dictionary of Training and Behaviour
Teaching your dog to accept gentle physical handling and restraint is to some extent a form of Leadership Exercise, as well as being a practical aspect of conditioning.
Physical handling techniques such as passive restraint, grooming and examination of mouth, ears and paws are best taught in puppy class. For older dogs, not used to being handled, this type of handling is not recommended until the other leadership exercises have taken effect and the dog will accept handling without defensive biting and mouthing. Then it is possible to extend the amount of handling the dog will accept by rewarding this behaviour. In the case of a fearful dog, it may be better to build a relationship of trust without stressing the dog, and leave physical handling until a little later, when you can gradually increase the amount of handling and restraint the dog will accept without panicking. In the case of dogs who are a bit fearful or defensive about being handled, food is used to create a pleasant, relaxed association with being handled, rather than as a reward for accepting it.