Nail care is an important part of caring for your dog. It should be an easy and stress free experience for you both. Unfortunately, for many this aspect of pet care is the opposite experience, and is a source of anxiety.
What we want to do is help your dog be calm when their paws and nails are being handled, and eventually be that they are actually happy to have their nails trimmed.
It’s important that you don’t push them when they are telling you they are stressed – using extreme restraint whilst they are struggling, only further reinforces that yes, they were right to hate having their nails trimmed!
Tips for stress free nail trimming:
- Ensure your dog is happy for you to hold their paw – without the clippers – and reward them with a yummy treat. When your pup is happy with this, then progress.
- Show your dog the clippers, and give a yummy treat. If they are relaxed when they see them, you can start to progress.
- Touch the clippers lightly to the paw and give a yummy treat at the time the clippers touch the paw. When your pup is happy with this, then progress.
- Touching the clippers to each nail, and give a yummy treat. When your pup is happy with this then progress.
- Trim a single nail, and treat!
- Do more nails if it’s going well, each time a treat for each nail. Monitor your dogs reaction carefully – it’s better to only do one or two nails and finish on a positive note where they had a great experience, rather than allow them to become anxious or fearful. Then start again with the other nails a bit later.
The hardest part of this approach is making sure you don’t progress too quickly and that you go at a pace that is ideal for your dog.
In extreme cases of nail trim anxiety in dogs, your Vet may need to administer sedation or even anaesthesia to facilitate the trim. As the nails are growing out again you can get started on training your dog to be calm for their nail trims as above.
Every dog is different, and what works for one may not work for an other – please speak to your Vet to work out the best plan for your pet.