Trimming your dog’s nails can be quite the task, especially if your dog does not like their paws handled. I see so many dogs coming into the clinic just to get their toenails trimmed. I can understand owners not wanting to trim their own dog’s nails because they are either scared of hurting their dog or even their dog trying to bite them if they try. Here are some expert tips on how to conquer this easy but terrifying task.
Want to trim your dog’s nails yourself? Then start them young
When I go over my “New Puppy Speech” with clients, I ALWAYS repeat about 4 times how important it is to play with their puppy’s paws and ears. It helps a puppy know that having their paws touched is a normal thing and it is nothing to shy away from. Do this every single day; when they are eating, laying down, or even snuggling with you. This is just as important as house training.
Become educated on the proper way to trim your dog’s nails
Ask your veterinarian or veterinarian technicians how to properly trim your dog’s toenails! I will tell you a secret, client education is one of our favorite parts of our job! We can teach you all about how to properly trim even black toenails! Show you what type of toenail clippers work the best, how far to trim the nail back, and even what to do in case a nail is accidentally quicked and starts to bleed. After all, it is best to learn from the experts! (Qwik Stop is nice to have at home, but Cornstarch works too.)
Use positive reinforcement
You give your dog a treat when they perform a trick and do something good right? Apply this same concept to teaching an old dog a new trick – holding still and patiently while they get a pedicure. If your dog is paw-shy, progress slowly. When they let you pick up their paw, give them a treat. When they let you touch the toenail trimmers to their paw, give them a treat. As soon as you trim just one toenail, reward them. They will get the point quickly.
Lay your dog on their back
I trim 4 out of 5 of my dog’s toenails by laying them on their back between my legs. This works for two reasons. One, a dog laying on their back is a submissive posture, they respect me. Two, they are getting attention and they love that, and they know after we are finished they will get a carrot. This is another really important part of puppyhood – teaching them how to be submissive to you so they don’t end up running the household, your household.
Offer distractions when you trim your dog’s nails
Distracting your dog during a pedicure works well too. I use a lot of squeeze cheese for a distraction. Spray a line on the hardwood floor and while the dog is licking it up, I trim their toenails. It’s also positive reinforcement. You can also put peanut butter or something similar in a Kong for a distraction. Other distractions such as another person giving treats, talking to the dog, or head tapping the dog works well too.
Believe it or not, keeping your dog’s nails trimmed will also keep that quick short, and using the correct nail clippers are super important. Stay away from ones that pinch. Instead, use the ones that sort of look like a pair of pliers but have “C” shaped blades on them. And, don’t forget to ask for that nail trim lesson from your veterinary clinic!
Are you able to trim your dog’s toenails? How do you accomplish the task?