The other day I trimmed one of my dog’s toenails. It was a piece of cake. Why? I’ve trained her to expect a special dog cookie for each foot I complete. After we first adopted her I started clipping just one nail and then surprising her with a cookie. After a few sessions we worked up to a whole foot before she would get her cookie. Now she eagerly hops into position when it’s time for nail trims. Sound too good to be true? Here are some tips that can help make nail trimming easy. Try them and let me know how it goes.
Start off doing what you dog will feel comfortable with. There is no need to plow through and finish all four feet in one session. Take your time.
Start with back feet. Most dogs find that much easier to deal with.
Use the Hughes Maneuver (pictured). I named this after the veterinarian who showed it to me, Susanne Hughes, DVM. Dogs love this and often give up their nail trim anxiety when you use this position instead of forcing them to lie down. Have the dog stand, with you facing the dog’s tail end, standing near the leg of the foot whose nails you want to trim. Grasp the foot and just curl it under ’til the dog’s pads are more or less parallel to the ceiling—presto, you’ll be able to see all the nails and trim them one by one.
Have someone knowledgeable show you how to trim the nails so you will be confident. If you are confident in what you’re doing, you’ll be less nervous and more accurate. I enjoy helping new puppy owners with this; it teaches the pup to gladly accept restraint and grooming from their people right off the bat. Owners who trim their own dog’s nails save money, too.
If you don’t have a helper, slap a dab of peanut butter on the side of the fridge dog nose-level. (Why the fridge? Easier to wipe off afterwards!) That’ll keep your pooch occupied while you trim away.
Keep a container of styptic powder handy in case you cut the quick. It stops bleeding instantly. Stay calm, take a deep breath, apply the powder, and you’ll be good to go.
By the way, my other dog hates having his nails trimmed, more than the average dog. So I taught him to do a little job during nail trims which keeps him distracted. He does a “leave it” with a dog cookie on the floor until I’m done trimming a foot, then he gets the treat.
Check out some of the links under Doggie Supplies to the right for quality clippers and styptic powder.