Trimming your dog’s nails is a very important grooming responsibility that will help your Pet stay healthy and happy. If you don’t clip your dog’s nails and they are allowed to grow too long, it can not only cause discomfort and pain for your Pet, it can also cause inflammation or infection in the paw and other joints of your dog’s body.
When nails are long enough that they touch the ground, they exert a force into the nail bed that creates pain and pressure on the toe joint. This can cause a problem with your Pet’s natural body alignment and can leave them more susceptible to pain and injuries. Long nails are also more susceptible to cracking and breaking and can lead to infection in the paw.
If dogs are regularly walked on concrete, blacktop or other hard surfaces, it can help naturally wear down their nails. However, many urban and suburban dogs, are often kept indoors and don’t get regular outdoor exercise or they just don’t get enough exercise on hard surfaces. Pets that don’t receive regular exercise outdoors will need their nails trimmed regularly to keep them healthy and comfortable.
In order to trim your dog’s nails, it will be necessary for you to hold and restrain your Pet’s paws. It can be very threatening and frightening to a dog to be restrained and handled in this unfamiliar way.
It will help if, from the time your Pet is a puppy, you frequently touch and hold your Pet’s paws while being affectionate and acting relaxed and happy. This way, they won’t be sensitive to having their paws handled for regular nail trims.
It is still possible though, to sensitize an adult dog to nail trims, but it may take them more time than it takes for an impressionable puppy, to build the necessary trust and confidence to feel relaxed and cooperative for this routine grooming. Since nail trims are something you will have to do almost monthly for your Pet, it will be worth it for you to invest the time and effort it takes to make them feel safe and comfortable with this procedure.
If possible, have someone assist you with the following technique. The assistant can be responsible for feeding treats and giving affection and praise.
Nail Trimming Technique:
- Day 1-Let your dog sniff nail clipper or grinder while giving treats and praise.
- Day 2-Touch the grinder or nail clipper gently and lightly to each paw and nail while giving treats and praise.
- Day 3-While touching the nail clipper to each paw, squeeze the clipper so the puppy hears the sound, or turn the grinder and let the puppy feel the vibration. Give Pet a treat and praise.
- Day 4-Touch the nail grinder or clipper to your puppy’s feet again while praising them and feeding them a treat.
- Day 5-Trim a very thin piece of the tip from only one front paw nail while praising and feeding a treat.
- Day 6-Trim the tip off of just two front paw nails while praising and feeding a treat.
- Day 7-Keep working your way up, trimming additional nails each day, until you’ve got them all trimmed, and your Pet appears relaxed and comfortable during the trimmings. Even when the nails don’t need trimming, keep practicing daily and even pretending you are clipping the nails by going through the above motions. This will only take a few minutes every day but will help your Pet trust and accept this grooming as part of its regular routine.