Many people are amazed when I tell them that nail trims for my dogs are drama-free, quick and require no restraint.
Is that possible, you ask? Why yes, it is!
I have worked hard to ensure nail trims are easy, as stress-free as possible, and require no restraint other than holding their paws still so I can cut nails with the nail clipper.
And here is the secret…regular practice and consistency!
What do I mean by that?
Well, I put on my calendar to trim my dogs' nails at least every other week. Because I do it so often, and have been doing it since I first got my dogs, it has become a habit not just for me, but more importantly, for my dogs.
It may take you some time to get your dog used to it, but trust me, it will come when you put it in your calendar to do each week.
The alternative is to have your vet or groomer do it every once in awhile, which is often not enough.
First, like human nails, it is important to check and trim nails often because nails grow. Do you want to be taking your dog to your vet or groomer every few weeks to trim nails? Maybe that is OK with you, but I do not have the time nor can afford it!
Second, I’ve seen what can happen at vet clinics or groomers when the techs have to muzzle and restrain dogs for nail trims. They get harder and harder to do each time, and the stress is overwhelming for some dogs.
So, how do you trim nails on your own so that you can do it quickly, easily, as stress-free as possible for your dog, and saves you money because you are doing it yourself?
I am glad you asked. Here is what I do:
1. Train your dogs to lie down on their side. (Or to hold another position if you find it easier.) Build this important “trick” into your training. I teach this in some of my classes as well as my online dog training course. It is very easy to do. Get your dog to do it all the time and reward them for it. Make sure that over time, you continue to build in longer time frames for them to hold this position by delaying their reward.
2. At the same time, you want to practice handling your dog so they get accustomed to you touching them. Touch their paws and nails and handle them often. This will help your dog get used to you doing that.
3. Start your nail trimming sessions by getting your dog to lie down as you taught them and start gently cutting away very small ends of their nails while they hold the down on the side position. You can recruit some help if you find it easier to have someone else feed while you trim nails.
4. You might have to break up your nail trimming sessions to start…doing only one foot or even one nail at a time and come back again later to do another. Be patient as you need to help your dog get used to these sessions. So, like I advise in my training, start with short sessions.
If you do the above and stay consistent, your dog will become more accustomed to it. Some dogs are OK with it very quickly, but others it takes time.
I find clippers to be the best tool, while other people prefer using a dremmel. The dremmel's noise plus the vibration is stressful for some dogs, so if you use one, make sure you help your dog adapt to the sound before using on the nails. I find nail clippers much easier to use personally.
If you need help understanding how best to cut the actual nails, have your groomer or vet tech demonstrate it for you. Even if you decide you just can't do it yourself, these steps will help make the actual trims done by your groomer or vet tech much easier. They will thank you for it!