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How to clip your dog’s nails

How to clip your dog’s nails

First of all, your dog is not going to be perfect for the first, second, or even the twentieth time that you go to clip their nails. It is always going to be a challenge but as long as you stay consistent and always use positive reinforcement it doesn’t have to be a fight.

Tips On Clipping Dog’s Nails

The four things you will need in order to be prepared for a successful nail clipping session are:

  • Nail Clippers – Personally I am a fan of the scissor/plier style clippers because I feel like you have the most control with them, but there is also guillotine style, which tends to break or shred the nail more than cut them.
  • Styptic powder – There are specific products made to clot the blood if and when you cut the nail too short and make them bled. If you don’t have such a powder around you can use baking flour or cornstarch.
  • Treats – High reward treats are the best for use during nail clipping. High reward treats are your dog’s favorite treats ever, such as dried liver or cheese. Use it only for when you clip their nails to make it something they want to work for.
  • Time – It is going to take time to get their nails trimmed so make sure you don’t rush through it, because if you rush, you may end up cutting too much off.

Actual Task

Clip dog nailsAlright, getting down to the actual task of cutting your dog’s nails can be a challenge. First, find a comfortable place to clip your dog’s nails. In the summer, I love to go out on the grass and clip my dog’s nails, one because there is no cleanup and two because it is also a low-stress environment for my dog. At first, I start by playing with my dog’s feet and getting them used to their feet being handled. I also try to get him used to the sound of the clippers. A lot of dogs associate the clipping sound with the action of clipping the nails. So getting them used to the sound separately may make the process easier. When your dog is nice and relaxed feel free to give them their reward of love and treats.

Rewarding The Dog

Finally when you go to clip your dog’s nails, clip a little bit off the first nail and reward with a treat. If your dog has white or clear nails you will be able to see where the blood vessel is. If your dog has all black nails, clip a little bit at a time until you see the tip of the vessel, usually, it will look like a little light pink or white circle. After each nail is clipped I like to give a treat to reinforce them being patient and allowing me to clip their nails.

After I finish clipping my dog’s nails, I make sure to hold him until he is nice and calm before I release him. This allows me to maintain control of the experience and not only remind my dog who is the boss, but also that if he stays calm the whole thing will happen faster. When he is still and I am ready, I release him with a big “OK!” and then we have major play time. We play fetch and tug of war and do whatever he likes as a reward for his good behavior.

Like I said before, it is going to take a lot of time for your dog to get used to getting their nails clipped, and they will never totally be ok with it. You may need to take it slow, start by playing with their toes while you cuddle on the couch, work your way up to holding their feet, and then finally clipping their nails, even if it is just one nail a day. Find what works best for you and your dog. If they don’t like to be on their side or being held down, try just lifting one leg up at a time and clipping their nails that way. My dog loves laying on my lap, so when I clip his nails I flip him on his back to clip his nails, if he starts to struggle, lick my hand, or whines I just tell him to settle and then wait until he stops fighting me, give him a treat, and then continue clipping his nails. Like I said, it is going to take time and patience on both you and your dog’s part, but it will be worth it in the end!