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7 Tips for Teaching for Your Dog to Accept Nail Trims

If you have a dog, you have to trim their nails – that’s just a fact. No breed of dog can get by without having their nails trimmed. It just isn’t possible!

However, getting your dog to trim their nails can be difficult. Sometimes, starting early helps, but that doesn’t always solve the issue.

Some dogs just need more work to accept routine nail trimming than others.

Below, we’ve listed seven different tips that may help your dog have a better time with nail trims.

1. Start Early

If your dog is still young, there is a chance they may develop a liking for nail trimming. Most dogs do not start out liking nail trimmings. Instead, they get used to it over time.

For dogs that just started their nail trimmings, it is possible that they’ll grow to like it soon enough. The key is to keep doing it – don’t put it off just because you’re afraid that your dog will complain. Frequency is key to desensitizing your dog to the process.

If you’re having a hard time trimming your dog’s nails, enlist the help of a friend or take your dog to the groom. Just don’t limit the frequency. While it may allow you to avoid trimming your dog’s nails in the short term, it may bite you in the back later.

2. Use Treats

You want to make the nail trimming routine as straightforward and calm as possible. You don’t want your dog to associate the trimming with stress, or they’ll learn to avoid it in the future!

Instead, try to make nail trimming a fun, relaxed time. The easiest way to do this is to utilize treats. Use small, easy-to-use treats when trimming your dog’s nails.

Anytime your dog stands still – even for a second – give them a little treat. Small treats very often are best. If your dog knows they’re getting a treat, they’re much more likely to stand still. However, they can’t wait forever, so providing them with treats often is essential.

Eventually, standing still will simply become a habit. Slowly phase out the treats over time as your dog is able to wait longer between them.

3. Desensitize Their Paws

Most dogs don’t get their paws handled very often. Therefore, a large reason many dogs dislike nail trimmings is because their paws are being touched – not necessarily because they don't like nail trimmings in general.

Luckily, this is fixed very easily. All you need to do is regularly touch their paws, especially during happy times like cuddles. With regular paw handling, their paws will eventually not be so sensitive.

Of course, you should never force your dog to allow you to touch their paws. This situation can actually make them dislike the paw touching more. If your dog is particularly averse to paw touching, you may need to utilize treats during this process.

Often and little is key. You don’t want to overstimulate your canine, but you want to get them used to regular touching. Follow your dog’s lead.

4. Get Them Used to the Nail Clippers

The nail clippers themselves are sometimes a source of fear. Some dogs could care less that the nail clippers are around, while others are very sensitive to their presence. Either way, it often doesn’t hurt to get your dogs used to the nail clippers.

The easiest way to do this is to pull the clippers out often – even when you don’t need them. Leave them where your dog can see them, hold them in one hand while you pet your dog with the other, and just leave them lying around.

The point is to make the nail clippers so normal that your dog doesn’t think anything weird is going on when they see them. You can use treats during this process as well, though this is often only necessary if your dog has a serious aversion.

5. Ensure You’re Sharpening Your Clippers

If you’re using traditional clippers, it is essential that you sharpen the clippers regularly. Dull clippers can actually be quite painful for your pooch and can lead to extra fear and trust problems. Therefore, take a few extra minutes to ensure that your clippers are sharpened appropriately.

Not all types of clippers need to be sharpened, though. Electric nail trimmers often don’t need sharpening. In these cases, this step is simply one less thing for you to worry about.

Don’t assume that new nail clippers are sharpened all the way. Often, they don’t sharpen them appropriately in the factory, so they should be re-sharpened before they are used.

6. Use Other Calming Measures

Sometimes, dogs are just anxious. High-strung dogs are often more likely to be fearful of everyday situations, like nail clipping time. Luckily, there are several ways you can lower your dog’s anxiety in general, which may help them accept nail clippings.

For instance, weighted jackets can help some dogs calm down. These are often advertised to help with thunderstorms and the like, but they can also help during other stressful situations, like nail clippings.

Proper amounts of exercise and mental stimulation are also important to keep your dog tired and relaxed. A dog that does not meet their daily exercise needs is more likely to freak out during a nail clipping. This especially applies to herding breeds such as Mini Aussies or Cattle Dogs.

On the other hand, if your dog is relaxed and settled, they’re more likely to sit still and be indifferent towards having their nails clipped.

Sometimes, all your dog needs is a bit more exercise.

7. Get Professional Help

Sometimes, your dog’s anxiety towards nail clipping is more than you can handle by yourself. This isn’t a sign that you’re doing anything wrong – some dogs are just more anxious than others.

Plus, if you adopt your dog later in life, you have no idea how their previous owner handled nail clippings. For all you know, this could be their first experience with nail clippings ever.

There are two ways to leverage professional help in this situation. Firstly, you could visit a groomer to get your dog’s nails clipped. Many groomers offer inexpensive, walk-in nail clippings. You’ll likely pay as little as $5.

Alternatively, you can speak to your vet about your dog’s anxiety. If your dog is also anxious in other parts of their life, it is possible that they need anxiety medication or other supportive therapy.

In many cases, you may want to utilize a vet and a groomer. Some dogs need all the help they can get.

Final Thoughts

All dogs’ nails grow continuously. In the wild, their nails would get run down by normal activities. However, domestic dogs often don’t wear their nails down naturally. Instead, they need us to clip them.

With that said, this isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Some dogs hate clipping their nails. Whether it is the clippers themselves or the paw handling, many dogs have a serious aversion to nail clippings.

Either way, desensitization can often help dogs get used to the whole ordeal. Other times, dogs need a bit of extra help to calm their anxieties around routine grooming. In these cases, you may want to speak with a vet or use a local groomer.


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