Do you have a new puppy that needs to get his nails done? Does your older dog dive under the bed when he sees you with the nail clippers? It's a chore for many dog owners, but there is a way to make it just a little easier to trim your dog's nails.
Start him young
If yours is a pup, start immediately with getting him accustomed to having his feet handled, before you even grab the nail trimmers. The more you manipulate his paws while playing, the less likely he is to freak out when it's time for the real deal. Press gently on and between the toes and also massage the pad of his foot; it will be helpful later if you need to remove a splinter or check for injury.
Old dog, old tricks
If you've adopted an adult dog who isn't used to having nails trimmed or who has had a bad experience, trimming his nails can be more of a challenge, but one that can be overcome. As with the young dog, take time to handle his feet as often as you can - when grooming or playing - until it becomes a routine that he knows won't hurt him. If he learns that a belly rub or round of ball-tossing is part of the deal, he may even look forward to the ritual (think Pavlov's dog). Once he's comfortable with hand-holding, poking, and prodding, then you can bring on the nail clippers to actually do the deed.
It's all about form
When trimming your dog's nails, make sure you have a firm grip on his paw, but not so tight that you hurt him or he feels threatened. If the dog jerks while you've got the clippers around the nail, you could pull the nail, or cut too short and cause injury.
I like to have the dog at my side facing the same direction so that I can reach one arm around his shoulders to help restrain him, and use that same hand to hold the paw steady while I use the clippers with the other hand. I always talk to my dogs in a soft or silly manner when trimming their nails or any other procedure they're not too keen about; I think it helps keep their focus on me rather than the scary tool ready to eat their paw. Don't use a harsh tone or fight with your dog. Even if not the most pleasant experience, you don't want it to be an ugly one. If your dog won't calm down enough to clip the nails, put the clippers away and try again later.
When practice isn't enoughMy Molly and Jethro don't exactly enjoy getting their nails trimmed, but because I've worked with them over time, they no longer run for the hills when they see I have clippers in hand. If your dog's nails are getting too long and you're still in dress rehearsal, take him to a groomer or ask your veterinarian to assist you. The few dollars spent to have someone show you the proper way to trim his nails might be a small investment with a big return.
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