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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We have a 2 yr old mixed breed that we got last November.
She HATES her nails done. I've tried taking her to the groomers, after the 1st paw, they asked if I wanted them to continue.
Took her to the vet, they sent me home with sedatives.
She broke a long nail a few weeks ago and had to be put under so they could deal with it and trim the rest.
I have sat for hours with a running Dremel in my hand waiting for her to come up to me for a cookie. After a couple weeks, I could touch her shoulder for about 2 seconds.
She runs when she sees the clippers she runs, even if I'm using them on another dog.
I've had my husband try to hold her, she panics and screams.
I tried the doggie lift. After playing until she was worn out, then given a sedative, I was able to clip ONE nail before she flipped out.
Her nail NEED done and I'm out of ideas.
 

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Obviously gradual counterconditioning, which you've been trying, would be ideal, but sometimes a procedure just needs done now. How big his she? You might be able to use a nail trim sling (basically the dog is lifted off the ground in the sling with their legs dangling) to do her nails if she's not too large.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Obviously gradual counterconditioning, which you've been trying, would be ideal, but sometimes a procedure just needs done now. How big his she? You might be able to use a nail trim sling (basically the dog is lifted off the ground in the sling with their legs dangling) to do her nails if she's not too large.
She is 42lbs. The doggie lift is the sling you mentioned. I tried that, with her sedated, and managed 1 nail in 20 minutes. I can't sedated her for each nail.
She is scared as scared of the slight of the clippers as she is of the Dremel.

I think my next step is play until she is worn out, sedation then take her to the groomers. They need trimmed before she splits another nail.

I have never had a dog that freaked out by a nail trim.
 

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With the caveat that I haven't worked with a dog this bad about nail trims, my first thought is to go back and start even smaller and slower. Which sucks to hear, I know. Counterconditioning/desensitizing can be a mind-numbingly frustrating, slow process. I'd consider starting with having the vet giving her as good a trim as possible under anesthesia so you have some time to work on things before she grows talons again. Another good stop-gap is a scratch board - I have one made of a cheap cutting board and skateboard grip tape but there's lots of tutorials out there for different styles - that you train the dog to dig at to help wear down the nails. It won't replace proper nail trims for most dogs, but in many cases it's a lot easier for dogs with nail trim issues to accept and be comfortable with because they're in control and it's more of a 'game' or trained trick in their eyes.

Set the (turned off) dremel or clippers on one end of a room, then walk over to her at the other end and have a treat party with super special, high-value treats for 5-10 seconds, no matter how she's acting about the tool. Then walk back over and put the tool away. Do this a few times a day until you start seeing a positive change in her reaction to the tool being set out. Then slowly start moving closer for the treat party (move back if you start seeing anxious or stressed reactions again). Eventually, once she's happy to have her treat parties next to the tool, you can start reaching towards it before you feed her the treat. Then you can touch it and treat. Then you can pick it up and immediately put it down and treat, etc. etc. You'll want to work on touching and handling her feet in a similar way (start with just reaching, getting closer, touching, gentle hold, firmer hold, etc.) WITHOUT the tool around - one thing at a time so you don't flood her.

For the dremel, when you've got her happy with you holding it around her and think it's time to get her used to it being on, you'll want to start over with being at a distance again, rather than jumping right to turning it on while you're holding it right next to her. Think of the sound as a completely separate category of thing to desensitize/counter condition. Hopefully it'll go faster as she figures out that you're not pressuring her and that nothing you've done so far has been scary. Only start combining all the parts when she's really happy and comfortable with each one, and always back up to the last step where she was comfortable if she starts stressing out.

One thing I try to do is have a different space for grooming/nail stuff that is mandatory and for where we're doing this kind of cooperative care work. That way, even if I have to take care of something before we've fully worked up to it (and I have curly dogs so I can only avoid uncomfortable/stressful grooming so much), the cooperative care scenarios still look different enough that I'm not completely poisoning all the work I've done.

But I do suggest you check out the cooperative care facebook group if you want more information and support (Facebook Groups). They have a ton of people who have way more experience working with really difficult cases than I do, and will be way better at troubleshooting and knowing ways to help make it work for you and your pup. The creator of the group, Deb Jones, also wrote a book on the subject (Cooperative Care: Seven Steps to Stress-Free Husbandry) and has a class specifically about dealing with nails coming up in December on Fenzi (Fenzi Dog Sports Academy - FF190: All About Nails), if you want more guidance than the group can provide.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks, actually the vet did do her in May after she split a nail. I've been working on a lot of the things you mentioned, but they aren't working.
I have clippers in various areas of the house and I pick them up and put them down quite often.
I try to handle my dogs feet often, so they are okay with it, but she isn't. If I pet her feet when she's sleeping, she'll get up and move.
Today, I did some agility training, then played until she was worn out. Gave her a sedative and just walked around the yard for a while until it had time to work. Then attempted to trim a couple nails. Got 2 done before she sliced my arm open. Took her to the groomers where we managed to get 1 more trimmed before she totally freaked out (got out of the noose, fell/jumped off the table, and screamed her head off)
I'm going to ask the vet about stronger sedatives and will check out the groups you mentioned.
 

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Maybe also ask the vet how giving oral sedatives regularly while trying to work on this compares to just knocking her out with that reversible sedative they use maybe once every 2 or 3 months? I have no idea but with a dog this bad about it, I'd at least ask and also look into the scratch board setup and training. If you could come up with something that kinda sorta works for now, you could keep working on it at a low level with fondling her feet, etc., and if it took a couple years, so be it.

You have my sympathy. It's taken me 2 months to get my puppy to where I can do a halfway decent job on his nails with the Dremel. I'm sure it will take another 2 before I can do the kind of job I want. He was another one, got hysterical, screaming and fighting at clippers or Dremel. My guess is he was held down and it was just done at the breeder's, and I don't blame her for that. It has to be done, but I can't imagine starting with an older dog that had a couple years to work on that kind of aversion.
 

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Have you tried rewarding just for reaching towards her feet or the clippers? Not even halfway, breaking it down to even moving your hand 1/4 or 1/3 of the way towards your goal and working up slowly only when she's comfortable with the previous motion. I'd also never work on this in the same area you have to do mandatory nail clips, or at least put down an obvious signal that this is a different exercise, like a specific mat/towel you work on only when you're doing desensitizing/counter-conditioning.

I'd reach out to the group I mentioned, though. Like I said, there's people there (including Deb Jones herself) who have way more experience than me troubleshooting handling exercises and figuring out ways to work with sensitive dogs.

Is the sedative a benzodiazepine? I know those are specifically used as fast-acting anti anxiety drugs, and while they can cause sedation/sleepiness, they also target anxiety symptoms better than a standard sedative. So if you're not using one already, it may be worth discussing trying them with a vet to see if they think it's worth trying, even if she's not anxious in other ways and doesn't otherwise need anxiety medication.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited by Moderator)
my dog has gave me quite a bit of problems with having her nails done
i got this nail grinder and he gave me no problems at all.
it became avery easy and even fun process
10/10 recomneded
[link removed by moderator]
The link is for a grooming glove.
I have sat for countless hours, holding a Dremel, letting her get used to it. After about a week, I was able to touch her shoulder with it turned off.
I can now touch her paws when she is sleeping on my lap. This is a huge improvement.
I'm hoping after a few more sedation sessions she will figure out its not a big deal. In the meantime, I keep working on touching her feet.
 

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We have a 2 yr old mixed breed that we got last November.
She HATES her nails done. I've tried taking her to the groomers, after the 1st paw, they asked if I wanted them to continue.
Took her to the vet, they sent me home with sedatives.
She broke a long nail a few weeks ago and had to be put under so they could deal with it and trim the rest.
I have sat for hours with a running Dremel in my hand waiting for her to come up to me for a cookie. After a couple weeks, I could touch her shoulder for about 2 seconds.
She runs when she sees the clippers she runs, even if I'm using them on another dog.
I've had my husband try to hold her, she panics and screams.
I tried the doggie lift. After playing until she was worn out, then given a sedative, I was able to clip ONE nail before she flipped out.
Her nail NEED done and I'm out of ideas.
my dog also wore out his welcome at pet smart and the vet. I did start running his paws every chance I got, if he was laying near me. Mine is very did oriented and has a sweet tooth also. The first time he let me trim them we had a little Debbie parkway cream cookie. He was nervous of course, but he let me trim one nail and my helper gave him a piece of cookie. I think I only got one paw five the first time. But we continued with this approach, using hot dogs or the cookie and eventually got to the point we can do all 4 paws. But he doesn't let us cheat. Mystery have a great after each claw or your not getting the paw back. Lol
 

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I think its worthwhile to keep up on the Dremel. Keep the sessions super short and positive. If you are getting frustrated your dog can probably tell even if you think youre doing a good job of not showing it...which will add to the anxiety so try to stop before it gets there. Groomers are great when they are pups to condition them but at this point she's been conditioned to fear it and react. At the groomers/vet they can't spend the time to accustom her to it they just need to get it done - and they WILL get it done usually. honestly if it's that extreme it might be best to sedate muzzle and do it at the groomers/vets every 2 weeks for grinding until they get shorter. It's going to take a bit to get the quick to recede and grinding is the best way to do it.

Did they shorten the quick and cauterize them while she was out?



We have a 2 yr old mixed breed that we got last November.
She HATES her nails done. I've tried taking her to the groomers, after the 1st paw, they asked if I wanted them to continue.
Took her to the vet, they sent me home with sedatives.
She broke a long nail a few weeks ago and had to be put under so they could deal with it and trim the rest.
I have sat for hours with a running Dremel in my hand waiting for her to come up to me for a cookie. After a couple weeks, I could touch her shoulder for about 2 seconds.
She runs when she sees the clippers she runs, even if I'm using them on another dog.
I've had my husband try to hold her, she panics and screams.
I tried the doggie lift. After playing until she was worn out, then given a sedative, I was able to clip ONE nail before she flipped out.
Her nail NEED done and I'm out of ideas.
 
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