Trimming your dog’s nails is not for the faint of heart. If you’re lucky and you started training your dog from a young age, it may not be that bad. But for a lot of us, our dogs start to tremble when they see us take out the nail trimmers, then we get nervous that we’re going to cut the nail too short and it will bleed and the process becomes not fun for anyone! You can always opt for Struttin Pup to come to the rescue. Our groomers, who are here 7 days a week, are more than happy to trim your dog’s nails. Sometimes your dog will even behave better for our groomers than they do for you (kind of like a young child!). But if you want to learn this skill, here are some easy tips and tricks to guide you through the process.
Start with treats and start slowly. Many dogs are too scared to take a treat during the nail trimming process, but most will take a treat afterwards, making it a positive experience. Slightly freezing a jar of baby food and having someone hold it for your dog to lick while you trim can also be a great distraction. Also, remember that you don’t have to do all the nails at once. My dog, Sage, is 4 years old and I still typically only trim the nails on one paw at a time. It’s just easier and less stressful for both of us.
Make sure to use good quality trimmers that are sharp and the correct size for your dog.
Look at your dog’s foot from the back and the bottom. Keep in mind how their joints work. If you’re pulling their leg to the side to make it more convenient for you to trim the nails, your dog could start pulling away. You may interpret this as them being fearful of nail trimming when it’s simply that their legs don’t move that way! A great visual is to imagine a farrier working on a horse’s hooves. If you can move the dog’s leg like a farrier moves a horse’s leg, you’ll be golden.
Hold the handle of the trimmers flat against the toe pad and cut straight across the nail. This cuts the nail so that it sits just above the ground. Cutting this way also makes it unlikely that you will cut your dog’s nails too short.
Black nails? Not a problem. Cut where the nail gets thin, not where it is thick. And take little snips at a time until you see a black dot in the center of your dog’s nail.
“Oh no, my dog is bleeding!” Preparation and attitude are the keys to this tip. Make sure you have corn starch, styptic powder or a styptic pencil on hand. Even a bar of soap will do in a pinch. Some say that cutting the quick, which is the vein that runs into the nail, is like ripping off a human hangnail. It can be quite painful, but you both will survive. Remember to stay calm. Your dog can feed off your emotions and if you are stressed, they will stress too! Simply plug the nail with the corn starch, styptic powder or pencil or soap, praise and give your dog a lot of treats!
Remember to be positive and patient. Unless you’re lucky and just walking your dog keeps their nails short, most dogs’ nails need to be trimmed every 2 weeks. So, learning how to trim your dog’s nails is a great skill to have. Also, feel free to drop by with your dog and have one of our groomer’s give you a tutorial. We love to help!