How To Trim Your Dog’s Nails – Part One

Some dogs run the other way if they see their owner coming toward them with a nail cliper. Others don’t seem to mind at all and sit still for the whole process. 

If you have one of those dog “drama queens” (or kings!) who hates having her nails trimmed, you may be wondering how in the world you could ever get her to tolerate it.

The answer is lots of patience. 

Ideally, you want to get your dog used to handling her feet when she’s just a pup. Gently hold and touch your pup’s paws from the start, and she’ll be much more apt to tolerate nail clipping. Some pups don’t mind a nail clipping with a clipper or grinder, but others need a more gradual approach. You can use this same approach on older dogs as well.

Day One – Allow your dog to sniff and explore the nail clipper or grinder. Give her a treat and praise her.

Day Two – Touch the clipper or grinder lightly to your dog’s paws, one at a time. Then treat her and also give verbal praise.

Day Three – Next touch the clipper or grinder to your dog’s paws and squeeze the clippers or turn on the grinder so your dog hears the noise. Note: you are not actually trimming the nails at this step.

Day Four – Repeat the step in Day Two.

Day Five – Attempt to trim off the very end of only one nail. If she allows you to do this, give her lots of verbal praise and affection and a treat. If she does not allow it, try again th next day, and the next, until she does.

Day Six – Attempt to trim the tips from two nails.

Day Seven – Keep going and work your way through all her nails. Go through the motions even when her nails don’t need trimming, so she remains used to the process.

In Part Two, we will talk about how to actually clip your dog’s nails.

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By Ellen Britt

Dr. Ellen Britt has loved dogs since she was a child. She is particularly fond of the Northern breeds, especially Alaskan Malamutes. Ellen worked as a PA in Emergency and Occupational Medicine for two decades and holds a doctorate (Ed.D.) in biology.

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