Does your dog hate having their nails cut and absolutely freak out? The worst thing you can do is make the process even more unpleasant with extreme restraint whilst they are struggling, it only further reinforces that yes, they were right to hate having their nails trimmed!
If they are in need of a nail trim right now, it’s best to head to your local Veterinarian for a sedation to facilitate the trim. The sedation can be either by tablet or by injection, but in the case of a tablet it needs to be given about 2 hours prior to the visit to the vet, before they are stressed, for it to work best. The same is applicable for injections, in that when they are already worked up some sedatives don’t work as reliably, so if the injection is given when the dog is calm in the waiting room for example before heading into the examination room, the whole process will be smoother. Planning is essential for success.
Whilst the nails are growing out again you can get started on training your dog to be calm for their nail trims. I say get started because this takes a lot of time and patience. You need to be able to identify the first signs of anxiety in your dog and stop as soon as you are seeing these signs. The aim is to desensitise them from their paws and nails being handled, and to counter condition your dog (with treats) to actually be happy with the trims.
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.
Tips for stress free nail trimming:
- Get a different looking pair of clippers- different to what you’ve been using in case there is a negative association with them.
- Show your dog the clippers, and give a yummy treat. When you get to the point that you show them the clippers and they welcome the sight of them, and even actively approach them, you can start to progress.
- Start moving the clippers towards your pups paw, touch it lightly to the paw and give a yummy treat. When your pups happy with this, then progress. Only treat when the touching of the paw is happening.
- Start touching the clippers to each toe, and give a yummy treat. When your pups happy with this then progress.
- Trim a single nail, and treat!
- Do more nails if its going well, each time a treat for each nail. Otherwise, with any early signs of anxiety, finish the trim on a positive note, and start again a bit later- it’s ok not to trim all the toes at once!