Are you intimidated at the prospect of learning to trim your dogs nails? If you, or your dog, have had an unpleasant experience in the past, you may want to just put off the job entirely. Unfortunately, a dog’s nails need regular trimming for his comfort and safety. Generally, only dogs who walk many miles on rough surfaces wear their nails down enough so they can avoid the nail clippers. Even those dogs would need to have their dewclaw (or ‘thumb’) nails trimmed once in a while if they were not removed. The prospect of nail trimming does not need to frighten either you or your dog. With the right tools, a good deal of patience, and plenty of treats the whole job can literally be painless.
When choosing nail clippers for your pet, always look for a high-quality pair that has a concave, sharp cutting edge. Scissor or plier style clippers may be more comfortable for your pet than the guillotine type since they apply pressure more evenly around the nail. It is also important that the clippers be the right size for your dog’s nails. Since nail trimming should begin in puppyhood, that might mean buying more than one nail clipper as she grows up. It is also handy to have a small file available to smooth off any rough or ragged edges. An alternate method of nail trimming involves using a small rotary grinder to keep the nails short. “How I Dremel Dog Nails” has great step-by-step directions on how to get your dog used to the grinder and how to use it to keep the nails neatly trimmed.
There are many different types of nail trimmers. Buy good quality trimmers that are sharp and designed for the correct size dog. They should be concave at the cutting edge, to avoid crushing the nail. Blunt or poor quality trimmers will split the nail. If the nails aren’t that long but are sharp you can simply file them or use a pumice stone to take off the tips. In the US it is common to use a dremel to slowly burr down the nails and this can be more gradual and safer than clipping.
If you have never trimmed a dog’s nails before, it might be a good idea to have your vet or groomer show you how. You also do not have to do all the nails at once or even all of the nails on one foot at once! Instead, take it one nail at a time. Just think of all of the quality bonding time you will be spending with your pet as you trim one nail per day. An article “The No Fear Way To Trim Your Dog’s Nails” by Dr. Eloise Bright explains the proper technique for clipping your pet’s nails, including those intimidating black or extra-hard nails. Even if your dog’s nails are overgrown, Dr. Bright explains how to cause the kwik to recede gradually until your pet has properly trimmed nails. It will involve a bit of time and effort on your part, but the long-term results are worth it.
If your dog has ticklish feet or bad memories of a painful nail trimming experience, watch the video below. It shows one dog’s amazing turnaround from snarling and snapping at the sight of the clippers to totally ignoring them – in just four minutes! Dr. Sophia Yin uses counterconditioning, a helper, and plenty of yummy treats to accomplish this amazing feat.
If you need help training your dog to accept whatever life brings, contact Canine Commander. We can help you and your pet develop a bond of loving trust that can handle any situation, even nail trimming!