Nancy Kerns: Hi! I am Nancy Kerns, Editor of The Whole Dog Journal. Let's talk about clipping your dog's nails. I will bet that the vast majority of dog owners don't clip their own dog's nails. Many of us rely on our vets or groomers to do it for us, or our dogs have overlong nails for most of their lives. That's a shame because it's not that difficult to do.
Because young dogs usually wear their nails down by running on hard rough surfaces, we tend to overlook the importance of teaching them to accept nail trimming. Then, when the dog ages, slows down, and needs help with those nails, the procedure is traumatic. It's vitally important to teach your dog to accept nail trimming as part of his regular grooming routine.
If you start with a puppy or a young dog, wait until she is resting quietly on the floor after a play session. Then, gently clip off the tip of one or two nails, feed her tasty treats and tell her what a great dog she is. That way she will grow up thinking that nail trimming is a wonderful thing.
There are several common mistakes that dog owners make when trimming nails. The first is clipping a nail too short or quicking the dog, which causes pain and bleeding and immediately teaches the dog that nail trimming is not fun.
The second major mistake is trying to trim all the dog's nails in one session. This is fine once the dog learns that nail trimming is a positive thing. But until then, physically restraining, a flailing, panicking pooch while insisting that every nail is clipped only makes matters worse.
Take the time to do the nails just one or two at a time, using treats, and games to make it fun. Finally, using poor equipment can make even the most accommodating dog fear nail trimming. Dull blades or shoddy tools can turn nail trimming sessions into nightmares.
Spend a few extra dollars to buy high quality clippers, and if you've never done it before, ask your vet or groomer to show you exactly how it should be done. Take off only small amounts from each nail at a time until you're confident that you know where the quick is and how to stay away from it.
Don't forget to be very generous with your high value treats, so your dog looks forward to nail trimming.