How to NOT freak out about trimming your dog’s nails Part One

Every dog owner has at some point been through it: you’ve tried multiple times to clip your dogs nails. Normally it ends in someone having to man handle your dog to get their nails short enough to not rake your skin.

Here’s the deal: Your dog doesn’t like having their nails clipped for one of the following reasons:

  1. They’re had their quick (the nerve/blood source inside of their nail) hit and they’ve bled before when having their nails clipped.
  2. They don’t like being forced to do something when they have NO IDEA what’s going on.
  3. They’re picking up on you worrying about something going wrong, like hitting the quick.
  4. It’s you. Sometimes, dogs just won’t sit still for their owners when things like clipping nails have to be done.
  5. It’s Tuesday and the mail carrier is late.

OK, that last one was crap but the truth is is that we can’t read our dogs minds. We don’t know the exact reason that they don’t like certain things. The good news is that I’m going to tell you how to gently desensitize your dog to having their nails clipped. (I’m going to treat this tutorial as if your dog has never had their nails clipped and they’re not extremely combative about having their nails clipped) OR, if you don’t feel like reading, skip to the bottom where I have a video:)

Step 1:

Your dog has to be ok with you grabbing and holding on their paws first. If you can’t get this done, the clipping will never happen. Remember, your dog has to be ok with this itself. They have to be confident that THEY can be ok with this activity. First grab their paw, hold for a second, them mark (either with a clicker or a reward word) that they’ve done a good job and treat. Do this several time, making sure that you’re working up to holding their paw for longer periods as you progress. Get creative with it. Separate their toes. Rub their entire paw and arm. Rub the bottom of their paw. Get them used to EVERYTHING!


Step 2:

OK, so now you can hold your dog’s paws. Awesome! Now we have to introduce the nail clippers to your dog. While holding their paw, gently touch their paw with the nail clippers. We’re not going to just JUMP into the clipping. We nee to make sure they’re calm and jumping in could freak the %^#* out! Touch their nails with the clipper, mark and treat.  Work your way up to having the clipper open and ready to cut their nails, hold their nails in there but don’t actually

pull the trigger. if they’re ok with this, take the clippers away, mark and treat.

Step 3:

You’re almost done. Hang in there. Now we’re going to clip a nail. Just one nail. After you do that, you’re going to mark, and treat.

***If your dog has semi-transparent nails, you should be able to see the quick so you can cut beneath it. If your dog has black nails, cut just a little at a time. You can tell where the quick starts from the pictures here. If all else fails, just keep clipping a little at a time till you see a bullseye.

Once you clip one nail, you need to decide if your dog has had enough or you can keep going. If your dog has started trying to pull their paw away and, they’ve had enough. Stop and let them rest. You can wait several minutes or several hours but STOP. If you try and cut their nails when they’re opposed to it, it’ll make them leary of it in the future. The goal here is to be able to do this without you or your dog freaking out right? You can continue to cut their nails through out the day until you’re done, or over the course of a few days. Continue in this manner until you can cut all their nails in one sitting.

Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was the perfect dog. Keep at it, take your time, and I promise it will be well worth it in the long run.

If you’ve skipped to the bottom, here is the video: (PS Don’t judge, We’re in the process of moving which explains the chaos behind me)

And here’s a tip that I forgot to mention in the first video.

Next week I’ll be going over what to do if your dog is absolutely adamant that the nail clippers are monsters out to get them:)

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