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I rescued my Springer Spaniel Max a few months ago. He's a really great dog, except for one thing I discovered this morning.

This weekend I took Max hiking, and the snow mixed with the mud created some pretty bad matts on his belly. This morning I decided to try to clip them off. At first he was just a bit miffed about being made to lie on his side. Eventually it escalated to him suddenly jumping up and trying to run off. I called my SO in to help me, but trying to hold him down just freaks him out more, and he tries to squirm away as soon as the scissors touch him.

He's sort of a nervous dog, and I'm tight on cash, so I really don't want to have to take him to a groomer (especially because it's just a few matts). I'm also hesitant to give him sedatives because he's epileptic and takes phenobarbital and I'm not sure if the two would react badly.

Any advice for how to get him more comfortable or calm him down?
 

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I was advised by a behaviorist, a vet tech and a few dog owners to basically work it out with them. This means that you just hold them down and go for it. I thought it would be counterproductive or mean but it has actually been kind of a miracle. We have a 90lb rottie that turned pretty aggressive and fearful anytime we would try and clip or Dremel her nails. After being kicked out of all the groomers and even being warned by the vets office I decided to try it. The first round was horrible! She screamed and flailed and it hurt me to put her through that but even on just the second clipping she haD significantly calmed down. I think she just needed to get through it and understand that it won't hurt or cause any issues.
Essentially we got the dog on her side, somewhere safe where she wasn't in danger of hurting herself or, to a lesser extent us. We gave her some treats, talked really sweet to her and then put the muzzle on her with peanut butter on a spoon at the end. We then put a towel over her face and let her adjust to that. Once she was basically calm we started on the nails. At first I only did a paw a night followed by massive praise and treats. We've done this three times now (once a week) and she is finally calm about it. No more yelping or fighting. A little squirming at the beginning but that's it.
The biggest problem with the method though is the chance of injury. It is dangerous. We use a dremel on the nails now so as to reduce the chance of injury from a blade. Maybe if you choose to try something like this start off with just touching the scissors to the paw and not exposing the blades. And, of course, only attempt this if you can properly restrain the dog otherwise you risk all kinds of bad things for all involved. If you have the chance of maybe working with a vet tech on how to properly restrain the dog, or even to discuss the behavior with a behaviorist those might be options worth looking in to.
 

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Try looking up kikopup videos on YouTube. She has videos that can help you do about anything with your dog through positive methods. It may take some time, but would be worth it in the end to have him not fighting you over it for the rest of his life.

I really need to do that myself, for clipping my dog's nails. Luckily my dog will at least let groomers clip them with little resistance. I know your case is different, but I'd bet she has a grooming video too.
 
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