Have you ever been to the vet clinic and heard a dog screaming behind closed doors? As a veterinary technician, I can
tell you that more than likely, the screaming dog is having it's nails trimmed.
There are a lot of reasons why a dog would not like his nails trimmed. Fortunately, there are positive training methods
available that can help your dog accept a nail trim without fear and aggression.
Unless a dog has had his feet handled from a young age, he will not be accustomed to this kind of handling. Puppies
need to learn that it is perfectly acceptable for a human to touch their body. Have someone feed your puppy treats while
you look in his ears, touch his feet, lift his tail and open his mouth. If the puppy pulls away, no treat. Reward for calm
behavior. Your puppy will soon learn that being handled is a good thing!
If you are not going to trim your dog's nails yourself, you will want to get your dog accustomed to being restrained for a nail
trim. Restraint can be very scary and threatening for a dog. As dog owners, we rarely, if ever, physically restrain our pets
at home. So when a stranger wraps their arm around your dogs neck and holds him tight, your dog will naturally become
worried and may struggle to get away. I've seen dogs struggle, pant heavily, whine, growl, urinate, defecate, try to bite and
express their anal glands all from being restrained by a trained veterinary professional. This can easily be avoided by
teaching your dog that it is alright to be restrained. Begin slow by first teaching your dog it is acceptable to be touched in
different areas of his body. Reward him with tasty treats if he allows you to touch him without pulling away. Gradually
progress to gently wrapping your arm around his neck and holding close to your body. Start with holding your dog for just
a second and gradually work up to longer periods of time. Remember to reward calm behavior.
Dogs will especially have an aversion to nail trimming if they have ever had their quick
cut. The quick is the fleshy part of the nail containing the blood supply. Cutting into the quick
is painful for the dog and he will not forget that his foot hurt when he got a nail trim. Even if
the quick is not cut, the clippers can pinch the quick while they are cutting the nail. You can
avoid this by using a dremel on your dog's nails. Desensitize them to the sound first by
turning the dremel on and giving them treats while it is running. Once they are seeking treats
while the dremel is on instead of shying away from the noise, have a friend feed your dog
tasty treats while you gently hold your dog's foot and apply the dremel to his nails. Use the
dremel on the lowest speed.
My Dog Already Hates Nail Trims!
If your dog already has an aversion to nail trimming, it is not too late to
help him. Clicker training provides you with a way to train your dog to
accept nail trimming. Watch the video below to see trainer Laura
VanArendonk Baugh, CPDT, KPA CTP, as she teaches Tucker to
accept a nail trim.
By Rebecca Lynch, KPA CTP, APDT
This video by veterinary behaviorist, Dr. Sophia Yin, shows yet another
great example of how you can use positive techniques to train a dog to
accept a nail trim.
Clicker training can help your dog, too! If you have a puppy and want to have a lifetime of hassle-free nail trims or have
and adult dog that is already scared of them, contact Rebecca to schedule your training session today.