Dog Won't Let Me Cut His Nails
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Thread: Dog Won't Let Me Cut His Nails

  1. #1
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    Dog Won't Let Me Cut His Nails

    Ok, I'm sure this has been discussed before, but I couldn't find what I was looking for...

    My dog is completely scared of getting his nails clipped. Like as soon as he sees the clippers, he backs away from me. Some times I can keep him calm enough where he will lay there panting, but as soon as I touch his nails he yelps and pulls his paw away. Forget about taking him to the vet, he's even worse with someone he doesn't know. I need to do something because his nails are just getting way too long. Today for the first time in a long time, I actually got a chance to cut one of his nails, but as soon as I went to cut it, he yelped and jerked away and I didn't get it cut. I know this isn't safe. I can't just hold him down because he's a big dog and he's going to get hurt if I try to do it and help pulls away. I have a feeling it's because when he was younger I accidentally cut into the quick and made him bleed. I've been able to do it a few times since then, but he's always been scared. It's getting to the point where I'm going to have to get him sedated to clip his nails, but there so way I'm gonna do this every time he needs them cut. Other than this, he is a really good dog and he's obedient and listens to commands. He's not just an untrained dog or anything. He is just too scared of anyone trying to clip his nails. Does anyone have any advice to get him over his fear? I've slowly introduced the clippers to him which is how I got the chance to clip them today, but as soon as I squeeze to cut the nail, he freaks. I need to figure something out. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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  3. #2
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    Re: Dog Won't Let Me Cut His Nails

    First, it sounds like you did the right thing by introducing him slowly to the nail clippers. Have him lay down like you would if you were going to clip his nails, show him the clippers and give him his favorite treats while doing so. Show him that the clippers mean GOOD things, like treats. As he gets more used to them, handle both his feet and the clippers at the same time, but don't put the clipper near his foot yet. Praise him like crazy while doing so, and continue doing this until he stops jerking his foot away. Then you can bring the clippers near his foot and apply pressure on his nail, but don't actually clip yet. Get him used to the idea of there being pressure, but no pain. Then, finally, you can attempt to clip his nails. Start slowly at first, doing just the very tips (maybe not even as short as you eventually want them), just so that he will regain his trust in you.

    ETA: This process can take weeks, and it sounds like you need his nails clipped right away, so a short term fix may indeed involve a sedative and professional nail trimming. The longer you allow a dog's nails to grow, the longer the nail beds and quick become. As follows, if you keep his nails short, his quick will become shorter, too.

    Hitting the quick can be a super traumatizing thing for a dog and it may take him a while to get over that. Desensitizing him by using treats and a slow, calm approach should help.

    That being said, I dislike doggie nail clippers. Even if you aren't hitting the quick, if you cut close enough, you're still in essence crushing the nail and pinching the sensitive areas of his nail bed. Using a dremel is an easier way to trim nails, much less painful for the dog and it gets the nails short and smooth. Here's a great site with lots of information about it:

    Dremel Dog Nails

    Good luck

  4. #3
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    Re: Dog Won't Let Me Cut His Nails

    Yeah I guess I can try the grinder deal. I know I tried it before and he was just as freaked out, but once I get him to calm down it might be easier to use the grinder than the clippers since there isn't the pressure on his nails. Thanks for the help!

  5. #4
    Senior Member agility collie mom's Avatar
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    Re: Dog Won't Let Me Cut His Nails

    I agree for now get a vet to sedate and clip the nails for now so that his quicks do not grow really long. I dremel my dogs nails. They lie on their sides while I do them. Start by placing the running dremel by his food dish (at a distance at first) to get him use to the sound. They most important thing about trimming nails is that you stay calm. I know it is hard with a dog that is freaking out but they feed off our feelings. If you feel nervous he will be nervous. Many dogs do not like to have their feet held their first reaction is to pull away. Handling and holding onto his feet without trying to do anything with his nails (while eating dinner) will help him think that this is no big deal.
    "Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring--it was peace." - Milan Kundera

  6. #5
    Senior Member lisak_87's Avatar
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    Re: Dog Won't Let Me Cut His Nails

    Is he food-motivated?

    I started cutting Brady's nails by squirting some easy cheese in a line on a plate for him...he licks at it the entire time I'm clipping. Completely distracts him.
    Proud "mama" of...
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  7. #6
    Senior Member Labmom4's Avatar
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    Re: Dog Won't Let Me Cut His Nails

    I'd work up to it very slowly. Get him used to having his feet handled. When you're petting him and he's in a relaxed mood, pet his legs and feet. Touch his toes, in between his toes, all over. If he gets nervous, back off. When he's comfortable having his feet handled, set the clippers next to him where he can see them, but dont use them yet. Pet him, touch his toes, praise him and maybe give treats. Then hold the clippers in one hand, while petting and touching his feet. When he's calm, try cutting a nail. If he's still nervous, you've moved too fast, so back up a bit. Do this over and over and be patient. It'll take awhile and many sessions.
    ~ Teri

  8. #7
    Senior Member kafkabeetle's Avatar
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    Re: Dog Won't Let Me Cut His Nails

    I would use this method of counterconditioning/acclimation, but you'll need someone to help you at first.


    Sounds like you know what you're doing as far as the actual clipping, but just in case, I found this tutorial super helpful when I was just starting out. Part of my problem getting Sydney to accept nail trimming was my own anxiety and this helped me build confidence, since it shows actual close-up images of cat and dog nails. I also use a dremel and find it easier for a squirmy dog with dark nails.

    I also learned to not talk to the dog while I'm trimming. I found myself saying things like "Aw, I know you don't like it." and it seemed to just give her more anxiety. Now I don't say a word except to say "no" and continue trimming if she starts getting too squirmy. Anyway, good luck! I've been there, and it gets better!

  9. #8
    Senior Member Graco22's Avatar
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    Re: Dog Won't Let Me Cut His Nails

    I am going to come from the opposite angle here. As a groomer, I see dogs like this every single day. Its a nail trim, its not a horrible experience, no matter what the dog thinks. Get a professional to do this FOR you, and you can hold the leash while they do it. The more you "try" to trim his nails, and he screams and pulls away, the worse you are making it. He is "winning" the fear battle, and you are too nervous to get the job done, and he will feed off your nerves. If you insist on doing it yourself, which at this point I think is a bad idea, as is having him sedated for a simple 2 minute nail trim! ( I am appalled at the amount of people that feel sedation is the only way. )Have someone hold the leash with a collar he cannot slip out of. Back him into a corner, and have him SIT, not lay down! Laying down is the worst thing to teach a dog IMO for a nail trim. It makes it a difficult angle to cut the nails, is hard to put fast pressure on the clippers, which results in pinching of the nail before cutting. Have him stand for the back ones and sit for the front ones if he will not stand. With his butt sitting in the corner, back to the corner, pick up a front leg, and quickly trim the first nail. If he yelps, ignore it, and do not let go of the foot. Wait until he stops pulling (can take a minute or two at first, because he is used to getting out of the situation). Then go on to the next nail. This is best done with someone who knows what they are doing, and can make the nail trim fast and efficient. In less than 5 minutes, all nails can be trimmed and then you give him a treat, good boy and turn him loose. Don't overdo the praise, and don't talk to him while doing it, other than calmly saying "stop" when he is pulling. The more you ooh and aah over it, the more he feels there is/was a reason to freak out. Dogs get their nails "quicked" all the time. It happens, its not the end of the world, and no reason to have to be sedated for a simple nail trim. Take charge, without being harsh with him. Just matter of fact. Best of luck.

  10. #9
    Junior Member kingkongpet's Avatar
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    Re: Dog Won't Let Me Cut His Nails

    Quote Originally Posted by Labmom4 View Post
    I'd work up to it very slowly. Get him used to having his feet handled. When you're petting him and he's in a relaxed mood, pet his legs and feet. Touch his toes, in between his toes, all over. If he gets nervous, back off. When he's comfortable having his feet handled, set the clippers next to him where he can see them, but dont use them yet. Pet him, touch his toes, praise him and maybe give treats. Then hold the clippers in one hand, while petting and touching his feet. When he's calm, try cutting a nail. If he's still nervous, you've moved too fast, so back up a bit. Do this over and over and be patient. It'll take awhile and many sessions.
    Yes! Get him used first and relaxed. Remember feel tolerance effect in both human and animals.
    I'm a Golden Retriever and Labrador dog lover!

  11. #10
    Senior Member Graco22's Avatar
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    Re: Dog Won't Let Me Cut His Nails

    Quote Originally Posted by kingkongpet View Post
    Yes! Get him used first and relaxed. Remember feel tolerance effect in both human and animals.
    In an ideal world, yes. However, for many dogs, you can do this for a year, and the dog will still freak out about the nails when you go to trim them. At this point, the OP says the nails are in dire need of trimming, and she doesn't have weeks or months to try to "work" the dog out of it..Its a simple nail trim, it doesn't have to be a big ordeal.

  12. #11
    Senior Member kafkabeetle's Avatar
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    Re: Dog Won't Let Me Cut His Nails

    Quote Originally Posted by Graco22 View Post
    In an ideal world, yes. However, for many dogs, you can do this for a year, and the dog will still freak out about the nails when you go to trim them. At this point, the OP says the nails are in dire need of trimming, and she doesn't have weeks or months to try to "work" the dog out of it..Its a simple nail trim, it doesn't have to be a big ordeal.
    +1

    When I finally got that through my head it sure made things a lot easier!

  13. #12
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    Re: Dog Won't Let Me Cut His Nails

    Thanks for the advice everyone. Very helpful.

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