Does your dog become scared or anxious when you try to clip its nails? This is a common issue in dogs who have been in abusive homes in the past, or in those whose claws were allowed to become badly overgrown before being clipped. Luckily, nail clipping does not have to remain an uncomfortable challenge for your dog forever. Follow these tips to get your dog used to having its nails clipped.
Step 1: Playing with the paws.
About one week before you actually plan on clipping your dog's nails, start playing with its paws. Pick the paw up in your hand, press on various areas, and rub between the toes. While you're doing this, talk to your dog in a soothing tone. Make sure you handle all four paws, and give your dog a treat when you're finished. Repeat this exercise twice per day for one week.
Step 2: Introducing the nail clippers.
About three days before you plan on actually cutting your dog's nails, introduce your pet to the nail clippers. You can do this right after your paw playing session. Take the clippers, and let your dog smell them. Rub them all over your dog's body and paws to get it used to the idea of the clippers. You should notice that, by the third day you do this, your dog becomes less nervous around the clippers.
Step 3: Clipping one nail.
When the day to start clipping arrives, do your normal paw playing routine, and rub the clippers all over your dog' body. Then, when the dog appears relaxed and comfortable, take one paw gently in your hand, and clip one nail. Immediately afterwards, give your dog plenty of praise and a treat. Even if your dog does not appear nervous, only clip that one nail today.
Step 4: Clipping the remaining nails.
The next day, repeat your normal paw playing routine, and then clip a couple of more nails. Some dogs will be completely over the nervousness at this point and will now let you clip all of their nails without struggle. Others will still be a bit nervous, so you'll want to clip just a couple more nails and come back again tomorrow (and maybe the next day) to slowly clip a few more. Again, give your dog praise and treats afterwards.
By following the steps above, you slowly ease your dog into the nail clipping routine and train it to associate nail clipping with treats and praise. The next time you clip the nails, it should go much more smoothly -- you'll likely be able to do it in one sitting. If you'd rather have a professional do your dog's grooming, or if you have questions, visit Daily Wag.