Training your dog to stay calm during a nail-trimming session is the best way to take the drama out of this important grooming task. And if you avoid nail-trimming for fear of cutting into the nail ‘quick’, read on and learn how the pros do it!
Why dog nail-trimming is important
Keeping your pet’s nails cut regularly can release a dog from the pain and over-use of hind legs. Dogs develop a different way of walking when their nails are left too long, and this can cause weakness in over-used hind-legs.
Cutting the nails short can be an instant cure for a dog whose back legs had been painful or weak, from having long nails. It’s true that a lot of dogs kick up a fuss when you try to cut their nails. However, this may be the result of them suffering constant pain from long nails. And once you have trained your dog to accept nail-clipping, this behaviour should stop when their nails are short and not painful anymore!
Best nail-clippers for dog’s nails
Make sure you use the best tools and maintain them carefully:
- Clippers need to be sharp, so sharpen or replace clippers frequently
- Choose scissor-clippers and don’t use guillotine dog-clippers, which crush the toe and hurt the dog.
- Never put the whole nail in a clipper.
- Stick to small-clippers, which give far better control.
- Only use large clippers for the biggest breeds
- Use a pedi-paws type grinder and smooth rough nail-edges with a rotating emery board.
- Just file the insensitive part of the nail – around the top and sides of the quick.
Training your dog for nail-trimming
Before starting to cut your dog’s nails regularly, spend a week training him to be still when the nail-clippers are being used. Start off by just approaching him, getting him into position and using the ‘Stay’ command, and then let him see you place the clippers on his nails. Lots of soothing words, a gentle and positive approach, plus plenty of treats will help to relax your pet. Practise several times, until he’s comfortable with this and knows that clippers touching his nails means a tasty treat!
Move on to holding his paws in the cutting position and touching each nail with the clippers. Follow this with a treat and practise. Then move on to cutting just one nail in the practise session. Eventually, you should be able to cut your dog’s nails without them getting frightened. Always begin nail-trimming on the hind feet where the nails are shorter, and not as sensitive as the front-leg toes.
How to trim your dog’s nails correctly
How to trim your dog’s nails correctlyHow to trim dog nails that are overgrown: When you have thinned the insensitive part of the nail, so it’s not supporting the nail, the quick will dry-out and recede. And this means you can cut your dog’s nails shorter in the future. Dogs’ nails differ greatly, but very long toe-nails become cracked and dry. This shows the divide between living tissue and the actual nail clearly, which makes trimming longer nails easier.
First-aid for cuts
If you cut into the sensitive ‘quick’ don’t panic, just have tasty treats handy and pop one into his mouth instantly. If the paw is bleeding, use corn-starch to stop the bleeding quickly. Be prepared by packing a salt or pepper shaker with corn-starch, so you can easily shake some onto a bleeding nail.
Tips for efficient nail-trimming
- Keep clipper blades almost parallel to the nail and never cut across the digit
- Train your dog to accept nail-clipping about once a week for short nails, or every two weeks to maintain length
- If your dog is very anxious you can just cut one nail a day followed by a treat
- Use small scissors with rounded tips to cut-off long hair around the nails
- Dog nail-clipping should be done in a well-lit room or outside in natural daylight
- If you wear reading-glasses to read – wear them when cutting your dog’s nails
- The insensitive part of a dog’s nail shows as a whitish ring around the sensitive ‘quick’
- You can see the nail structure more easily on colored nails than white nails
- Hold paws gently and separate toes for clipping with your fingers
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