Trimming your dog’s nails can be one of your least favourite times for both you and your pet. With patience and persistence most dogs will learn to accept nail trims. Following the steps below may make nail trimming a positive experience for both of you.
While it is easier to teach puppies the saying still goes that you can “teach an old dog new tricks.” Many older dogs may have had a previous negative experience, have an aversion to their paws being touched or be fearful of the nail clippers themselves.
Getting your dog used to the nail clippers – When grabbing the nail clippers stay positive and praise your dog with treats. Continue this until they associate the clippers with a reward and are excited to see the nail clippers. Get them used to the sound of the clippers next. Open them and close them repeatedly while praising and rewarding.
Handling their paws – When your dog is in a relaxed state, start to touch their shoulder and move down to their paw. Start to rub their paws and then touch each toe giving a gentle squeeze. The final step is applying gentle pressure to each nail. Remember to have a calm voice and praise your dog through all steps. If your dog is showing signs of being scared, stop and then continue once they have settled down.
Introducing the clippers with their paws – This is getting your dog used to the sensation of the clippers. While your dog is relaxed handle their paw with one hand and open and close the clippers with the other hand. Continue this while moving the clippers closer and closer to their paws. If your dog is accepting this, touch the clippers to each nail all while praising and talking in a calm voice. If your dog becomes anxious or starts to resist, take a break and try again when they are relaxed.
It is time for the nail trim – If your dog remains calm when they see and hear the clippers, you handle their paws and are calm when the clippers touch their paws you are ready to try trimming their nails. While holding their paw grab a single toe and trim just the very tip of the nail. Avoid trimming too much so you do not expose the quick and cause any trauma. It is not necessary to trim all four paws in one sitting. Each nail you trim is a step in the right direction ensure you praise and reward along the way.
If your dog starts showing signs of fear such as growling, biting, panting or drooling consult a veterinary professional. They will help you trim your dogs nails in a safe manner that will help reduce the stressful situation.
Staying positive, having lots of patience and taking each step slow will help make nail trims a more enjoyable experience for you and your dog.
Written by Jessica Bucci RVT