I’m sure there are some dogs out there who just LOVE to get a good nail clipping (are there really?). But, for the vast majority of others who would prefer to be left alone, or better yet, to be chewing on a nice juicy bone, here are some tips to clipping those hard to get toenails.
1) Use good nail trimmers. Try to avoid getting the Dollar Store version of nail trimmers – they will be worth the extra money. While you don’t need to get the most expensive, top-of-the line, professional trimmers, at least get a good quality, sturdy clipper with sharp blades. This will help to efficiently and quickly clip the nails and will prevent multiple attempts at cutting your dog’s nails. One or two quick clips on each toenail should be all you need to do. Dog’s nails can be very thick, so inadequate clippers won’t do the job and you’ll end up in a tug-o-war with your dog’s paw.
2) Use positive reinforcement. You want to make sure that the nail clipping process is as enjoyable as possible. If “enjoyable” is not attainable, then at least not painful or traumatizing.
Get out the treats and reward your dog after clipping his nails after each paw. Perhaps have a family member sit on the floor with him to give a good belly rub (and gently help keep him in place too). A peanut butter lathered plastic toy will buy you a few minutes.
As soon as you are finished clipping nails, provide another final “treat.” A walk, dinner, a toss of the tennis ball a few times. This will help your dog associate these fun and loving activities with getting his nails clipped.
3) Be aware of contortions. Avoid twisting any part of your dog’s paw or leg. It’s easy to concentrate so hard on clipping the nails, that you don’t realize you are hurting his leg. Be as gentle as you can on both his nails and the rest of the body.
4) Make sure you are familiar with where your dog’s nail quick is. And avoid clipping the nails too close to the quick. Have some clean paper towels, water and corn starch available to stop any minor bleeding in case you accidentally clip to close too the quick.
5) If it’s too difficult to do at home and you don’t have anyone to help, then consider going to the vet or groomer to have your dog’s nails professionally trimmed. But, be careful not to make the trip to the vet or groomer traumatizing or you’ll be back to square one.
The ASPCA provides some great information to help with clipping your dog’s nails. http://www.aspca.org/Pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-articles/trimming-your-dogs-nails