It seems like every time you visit a friend or family member, they have a new story about their dog that could use some TLC.
Whether it’s a tale of how their dog has escaped from the yard or a tale of how their dog has chewed through an expensive rug, your friends always seem to have something to share.
Unfortunately, many dogs don’t enjoy having their nails trimmed.
In fact, they may even resist it, which can lead to painful and unsightly problems for both the dog and owner.
If your dog won’t let you clip his nails, here are some tips on how to get him accustomed to nail trims so you can avoid these issues in the future.
Why trimming your dog’s nails is important
Trimming your dog’s nails is one of those things that you should do on a regular basis, but if your dog is resistant to getting them clipped, there are several potential causes.
The most common reason is that dogs associate the sound of the clippers with pain.
They may also not want to get their nails cut because they may feel insecure around people who are doing the clipping.
This can cause the dog to become nervous when someone tries to touch his paws, which will make him more likely to try to bite or scratch at any part of the body that he feels threatened by.
If you’re worried that your dog isn’t going to give you the cooperation you need to keep his nails trimmed, here are some ways to help encourage him to cooperate.
While this may seem counterintuitive, giving your dog a reward after each nail trimming session will help him understand that the process is a good thing.
You can offer small pieces of food as a treat, such as a piece of cheese or a slice of bread.
You can also rub some peanut butter or honey into the nail bed before you start cutting, which will act as a lubricant and help your dog tolerate the sounds of the clippers better.
Keep his nails short.
Keeping his nails shorter than half an inch will make him less likely to resist getting them trimmed.
If you aren’t sure what length is best for your dog, ask a vet for advice.
Cutting too much off.
One of the biggest mistakes pet owners make when trying to teach their dogs to accept nail trims is that they try to shorten the nails too much.
This only makes the process worse, since you’ll end up cutting down to the quick, which can result in infection.
Instead, keep the nail short enough that you can easily remove any debris without damaging the nail bed.
After you’ve done the first few times, you may find that your dog gets used to the process quickly and doesn’t mind it anymore.
Don’t overdo it. It’s tempting to cut all of your dog’s nails once they grow out, especially if you think they look ugly.
However, over-trimming can actually harm your dog’s nails, causing them to break off or tear away from the nail beds.
If you notice that your dog’s nails are starting to peel back or come loose, you can trim them down again to prevent further damage.
Common reasons why dogs resist nail trimming
There are several common reasons why dogs resist nail trimming.
The following is a list of the most common reasons why dogs hate nail clipping.
Keep in mind that there are also other reasons your dog might not want you to trim his nails, including anxiety, fear of hurting you, or just plain boredom.
He doesn’t like the way the nail clippers feel on his paws.
He’s afraid of being hurt when you try to trim his claws.
He knows what will happen if you do manage to get his nails clipped.
He’ll get a treat, but it won’t be as much fun as getting to eat whatever he wants.
He gets scared when you touch his paws.
He doesn’t know you’re trying to help.
If you’ve tried everything else, then it’s possible your dog hates nail trimming so much that he’ll actually bite down on your hand if you try to trim his nails.
This is especially true of large dogs who weigh over 100 pounds (45 kg).
How to get your dog used to nail trimming
First, you’ll need to find out what’s causing your dog to not want to let you clip his nails.
There are several possible causes for this, including anxiety, fear of being confined, fear of pain, or even just general dislike of being touched.
Before you start working on getting your dog used to nail clipping, try to figure out why he is resisting.
If it’s something as simple as nail biting, consider finding a solution that will stop that habit.
You can also work to train your dog to trust you enough to let you clip his nails.
After all, if you’re going to make the effort to trim your dog’s nails, you might as well do it right.
If your dog is afraid of you, then you should look for ways to make him feel safe around you.
For example, you can put a muzzle on your dog when you take him outside, or you can keep him separated from other animals while you’re at work.
Once you’ve isolated the problem, it’s time to think about how to fix it.
The first step in any training process is to identify the behavior you want to change and establish a reward system for good behavior.
Once you’ve done that, you can begin working to teach your dog to respond positively to commands like “come,” “stay,” and “sit.”
The next step is to start teaching your dog to respond positively to “let me touch your nails” and “let me clip your nails.”
As soon as your dog lets you touch his nails without reacting negatively, move on to the next step: actually trimming his nails.
Start by using a gentle approach, and gradually increase the length and frequency of nail trims until your dog finally starts responding positively to the command.
You’ll know that your dog is ready to go further once he no longer reacts negatively to nail trimming or touching his nails.
Keep in mind that there are certain precautions you must take when trimming your dog’s nails, especially if he already has long nails.
Here are some things you should keep in mind if you plan to trim your dog’s nails yourself.
Never allow your dog to become overheated before starting nail trimming.
This is especially important if your dog has a heart condition.
Always supervise your dog while you trim his nails.
A lot of dogs will chew on their nails if you aren’t watching them closely.
Don’t trim your dog’s nails in areas where he may lick or bite himself.
Instead, use a pair of scissors or clippers to clip only the ends of each nail.
Trim your dog’s nails before you leave home.
It’s easier to trim your dog’s nails than to wait until you get back home from work.
Trimming his nails on a regular basis will help prevent your dog from chewing down on his own nails, which can damage his paws over time.
The best way to trim your dog’s nails
If you want to keep your dog healthy and happy, you should take good care of his nails.
When his nails grow too long, they can cause him discomfort and pain.
If you’ve ever seen a dog with long nails, you know how uncomfortable it is for them to walk around on those claws.
They’re also prone to getting infections, especially if they scratch at themselves while walking on the ground.
It’s not just humans who suffer from this problem, either.
Dogs suffering from this issue often end up in veterinary hospitals due to their painful conditions.
In addition, when your dog has long nails, it makes it easier for other animals to climb on them and potentially injure themselves, as well as causing damage to furniture and floors.
So, if you want to prevent all of these problems from occurring, there are several things you need to do to get your dog used to nail trims.
The first step is to find a method that will work for your dog.
Some dogs respond better to certain methods than others do, so you’ll want to try out a few different methods before settling on one that works best for you.
Below are a few methods you can try.
1. Offer Treats
One of the most effective ways to get a dog used to nail trims is to offer him treats along the way.
This doesn’t mean that you give him a full-blown meal.
Just offer him something small, such as a piece of cheese or an apple slice, to keep him distracted and engaged throughout the process.
The goal is to keep him interested in what you’re doing so he doesn’t become afraid or nervous about the whole procedure.
2. Use a Rubber Band
A rubber band is another option.
You can attach it to your dog’s collar and then gently pull it against his nail.
When you release the rubber band, it should snap back against his nail, making the sound of snapping.
Repeat this process a few times until he gets used to hearing the sound of the rubber band snapping each time you pull it against his nail.
Once he’s comfortable with this, you can remove the rubber bands and replace them with regular nail clippers.
3. Play a Song
Another option you can try is playing music.
Make sure you choose a song that isn’t too loud, though.
You don’t want to scare your dog away from the procedure completely.
Instead, play a soft tune that you can turn down once he becomes comfortable with the noise of nail trimmers.
4. Use a Nail File
Rather than using a nail file, you can use a thin metal file instead.
To use this method, start by filing off any rough edges or burrs that might be underneath the nail.
Then, hold the nail file in your hand and slowly slide it underneath the nail.
As you go, you can apply pressure to help guide the file into place.
Once the file is under the nail, continue to move the file backwards and forwards to shape the nail.
What to do if your dog’s nails are overgrown
While it is possible for some dogs to keep their nails trimmed without issue, most dogs aren’t as lucky.
There are several reasons why dogs might not want to allow you to trim their nails, including:
- They associate the sound of the clippers with pain.
- They’re uncomfortable being handled during the procedure.
- Their nails grow faster than they can be trimmed properly.
- They fear that you’ll hurt them when you try to trim their nails.
If your dog has any one of these issues, you’ll need to work at getting him used to the nail trimmer before you attempt to trim his nails.
Here are some suggestions for what to do next.
1. Make sure your dog is comfortable around you
You should never force your dog to go through a nail trimming session.
Instead, you should start small and gradually increase the number of sessions you schedule each week.
You can also add other activities such as brushing or playing games to help distract your dog while you work on getting him used to the nail trimmers.
2. Play a game
Instead of just sitting down and waiting for your dog to calm down, you can play a game with him.
The goal of this activity is to teach your dog to relax and not pay attention to the nail trimmer.
To do this, simply take two pieces of food (or whatever type of treat works best for your dog) and place them between your fingers.
Then, sit down and hold out your hand toward your dog.
When he sees the treat, he will automatically turn his head toward you to see what you’re holding.
Once he does this, quickly move your hand away and give your dog another piece of food.
Repeat this process until he learns to ignore the nail trimmer and instead focus on the food reward.
3. Offer rewards
Some dogs are afraid of loud noises, especially if those noises happen often.
If your dog is a nervous eater, you may find that he avoids eating whenever you try to trim his nails.
To combat this behavior, you can try giving your dog a reward after he eats.
This will make the nail trimming session much less stressful for both him and you.
Another option is to offer a reward after each nail trimming session.
For example, if you usually feed your dog dry kibble, you can toss a few pellets into his bowl after each nail trimming session.
Not only will this help to motivate your dog to eat, but it will also provide a distraction for him during the nail trimming session.
4. Use a different tool
If your dog doesn’t like the noise or feel of using the nail trimmer, you can switch tools.
For example, you can purchase a pair of clipper blades specifically designed for dogs.
These blades are made of rubber and they feature rounded edges to reduce the chance of injury.
While this tool isn’t ideal for all dogs, it should be enough for most breeds.
How to prevent your dog’s nails from getting too long
The best way to ensure that your dog doesn’t develop any serious health issues is to schedule regular nail trims.
Nail trims should happen at least once per month, but you should also check them regularly if you notice that your dog’s nails are growing out longer than usual.
If you suspect that your dog’s nails are getting too long before they’re due for a trim, try switching to a different nail trimmer.
Some nail trimmers are better suited to clipping short nails while others are designed to be used on much longer nails.
Your vet can recommend the best tool for you based on the length and thickness of your dog’s nails.
In addition to choosing the right nail trimmer, you’ll also want to make sure that you clean it properly.
You should follow all of the instructions that came with the nail trimmer when you purchased it — including cleaning it with soap and water after each use.
Also, make sure that you replace the blades as needed, especially if they become dulled.
As your dog gets older, it’s important to keep his nails trimmed regularly.
If you wait until your dog is old enough to require assistance when trimming his nails, you’ll likely end up spending a lot of money on products and services.
If you can find a good nail groomer who will come to your house and perform nail trims on your dog whenever necessary, you’ll save considerable amounts of money over the course of your pet’s life.