Taking the Fear out of Nail Trimming

“Oh my word, NO!!!!”  That was her response when I asked her if she wanted to practice nail trimming with her Head Start puppy.  Clearly she was terrified of the process.  I asked her why.   “My last dog used to fight so hard, we had to muzzle him and eventually had to resort to anaesthetizing him to get his nails trimmed.  It was awful!”

We hear these and other similar stories all of the time in classes and we consider it all the more reason to work hard with your puppy to get them used to nail trimming.  With a little bit of knowledge and practice, nail trimming can be a simple part of grooming.  Remember that even if you don’t want to trim nails yourself, your dog will have to be part of the process and it’s essential that they are comfortable with it.

For a healthy foot, nails should be trimmed short on a regular basis.  Care should be taken to avoid trimming too close and nipping into the nail’s blood vessel (the “quick”).  Also be aware that some dogs have dewclaws that will need trimming.  If present, they will be on the insides of the lower leg (possibly front and back), though often, breeders will remove these at a few days old.

Whether you are starting with a young puppy or an older dog, a little practice, paired with some well-timed rewards, will help you and your dog overcome any stress about nail trimming.

With that in mind, we’ve prepared this video to help you teach your dogs how to be comfortable with nail trimming!

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