Nail trimming can be an anxiety provoking experience for both dogs and their humans, but there are steps you can take to get accustomed to the activity. This article will explain:
- Why it’s important to trim your dog’s nails
- Tips for trimming your dog’s nails
- Frequently asked questions about trimming your dog’s nails
Why it’s important to trim your dog’s nails
Trimming your dog’s nails is an important grooming activity that will help your dog look and feel good. Left untrimmed, your dog’s nails can grow too long, get caught on carpeting or furniture, and cause problems when walking.
Tips for trimming your dog’s nails
The key to trimming your dog’s nails is to help them get comfortable with the clippers first. To do this:
- Start by simply showing your dog the clippers. Every time they sniff the clippers, say “Yes” and give your dog a treat. By doing this, you’re helping them make a good association with the clippers.
- Touch their paws with the clippers. Once your dog is comfortable sniffing the clippers, start touching their paws with the back of the clippers. Every time you touch the clippers to a paw, say “Yes” and give them a treat.
Once your dog is comfortable with the clippers touching their paws, you can start trimming their nails. To do this:
- Hold one paw in your hand. Have your dog sit on a non-slip mat or towel and hold one paw in your hand. Place your thumb on the pad of the toe and your forefinger on the top of the toe just above the nail..
- Trim slowly. Push your thumb slightly up while pushing your forefinger forward. This extends the nail. Clip the tip of the nail straight across. Do not clip past the curve of the nail. This area is called the quick and this is where nerves and blood vessels are. If you do cut the quick, it will hurt your dog and their nail will bleed.
- Work at your dog’s speed. To help your dog get used to having their nails trimmed, keep the sessions short and work at your dog’s speed. Start with one nail, and stop immediately if your dog shows signs of stress or discomfort.
- Provide your dog with lots of rewards. Help your dog feel good about nail trimming by feeding them treats or providing them with other rewards throughout each trimming session.
Frequently asked questions about trimming a dog’s nails
Can I trim my dog’s nails myself?
Yes. The key to trimming your dog’s nails at home is to help them get comfortable with the clippers and work at their speed. When you do cut a nail, clip the tip of the nail straight across and do not clip past the curve of the nail. This is where the quick is and cutting this area will hurt your dog.
How often should you trim a dog’s nails?
You will know it’s time to trim your dog’s nails when they’re standing up, and the tips of their nails are touching the ground. For many dogs, this means trimming their nails every 3-4 weeks.
Is it better to cut or file dog’s nails?
Filing your dog’s nails reduces the likelihood that you’ll cut too close to the quick and hurt your dog. Simultaneously, filing allows you to get closer to the quick without as much risk of injury to your dog. This is a positive because the closer you get to the quick, the more the quick will recede and the shorter you’ll be able to get their nails over time and the more comfortable your dog’s paws will feel. The challenge with filing vs cutting your dog’s nails is that cutting is often faster and doesn’t require as much patience on behalf of your dog.
Does walking your dog trim their nails?
Walking your dog on surfaces like pavement or concrete can wear down your dog’s nails naturally. That being said, you will likely still need to trim your dog’s nails with clippers or a nail file. The frequency of trimming will just be less often.