Dogs need regular nail trimming so they can walk better and give their feet a good grasp on the ground. Scratching their nails over a rough surface like a wall or a pavement is one indication they need to cut their nails. However, getting your dog confident with nail clipping is not a one day process. It requires patience and the right approach to get your dog confident with it. Here are some tips to clip those long nails of your dog.
1. Familiarize your dog with nail clippers. Like humans, dogs become confident with anything they always see. They will not fear a nail clipper when they are accustomed to its presence. They think that it’s just another harmless toy. Let them sniff and play with it to learn what it is about.
A good way to introduce a nail clipper to your dog is to teach him to bring it to you. It is a double purpose training as you teach him obedience and get him acquainted with the tool. It is also essential for your dog to be accustomed to the sound of the clipper. The sound is usually what scares them first. So make sure to also introduce its sound as he learns about it.
2. Introduce nail clipping through visual learning. Dogs are one of the most intellectual animals on earth. According to research, dogs rank 6th among the most intelligent beings and they have a strong visual learning ability. You can take advantage of this skill by showing them a video of a relaxed dog getting its nails clipped. It will give them an idea of what a nail clipper is, and its function. Your dog will have an impression that there’s no need to panic when you clip his nails.
3. Earn your dog’s trust in paw handling. Paw handling is a very common trick among dogs. Although this may be the case, teaching this trick is not easy as well. Just like any other dog tricks, learning paw handling will take a bit longer.
Start with a gentle touch on your dog’s shoulders going down to his paws. Massage his paws lightly to get him used to skin contact in his paw pads. The paw pads of dogs have sensitive receptors that make them uncomfortable when touching it. This is the reason why they take their paws away when you try to hold it.
Never hold them back when they take their paws away. Holding them back will only give them a negative experience in nail clipping. This will only develop their fear as it gives them the thought of being unable to get away from something painful. If your dog takes his paw back, let him go and just try it some other time.
4. Lightly press each nail. Pressure on the nails is uncomfortable for puppies and even for grown up dogs. This is because of the nerves and blood vessels in the pinkish area on the nails called quick. Most dogs do not want any pressure on each finger and it is very difficult to clip their nails if you can’t even touch it. So it pays to get them used to a slight pressure on each nail from time to time. Doing this on a regular basis can desensitize this part of your pooch.
5. Start the nail trimming process gently. Now that your puppy is confident with paw handling and fearless of nail clippers, it’s time to cut those nails. First, you can ask him to bring the nail clippers to you.
You can play a game with him using the tool to condition his behavior toward it. For example, you can use the clicking sound of the nail trimmer to teach him when to stop and go. This is one method to introduce the clicking sound to your dog. Then, gradually transition to the clipping process making sure that each nail is trimmed properly. Do not trim too much and never cut the quick (the pink part) as it will bleed profusely.
Give it your best shot to avoid hurting your bestest friend, or it will be one painful memory that you will not be able to do with him anymore. Be sensitive to his actions and let him go if he shows any signs of discomfort. Not being able to trim all his nails at once is totally fine. You can continue the next day to avoid breaking his confidence in trimming his nails.
Make sure to praise him or give him a treat once you successfully trimmed all his nails. Walking him outside with his best dog harness is another good idea. If this becomes a habit, he will understand that he needs nail trimming to walk properly outside. This will serve as a positive reinforcement that will make him excited to trim his nails.