Does your dog hate having their nails trimmed? Four reasons why, and how to address them
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Does your dog hate having their nails trimmed? Four reasons why, and how to address them

Dogs
Health & Safety

If your dog is very active and spends a lot of time outdoors and being walked, the chances are that their claws will wear down naturally and stay short enough on their own without needing the occasional trim, particularly if your dog walks on hard ground a lot. However, if your dog is fairly sedentary, always walks on grass or simply has fast-growing claws, the chances are that you will sometimes need to trim down your dog’s nails, or take them along to a groomer or veterinary nurse who can do this for you.

While many dogs will put up with this in good spirits and happily accept a couple of treats at the end of the procedure, many dogs take their manicures very seriously, and make a huge fuss about it, even going as far as to struggle, snap, or otherwise do everything in their power to make things difficult and get away as fast as possible! If this sounds like your dog, it may mean that you are unable to trim your dog’s nails at home, and that even having them cut by a professional can be problematic and stressful for all involved.

While every dog is of course different, a dislike of having their nails trimmed is a fairly common canine problem, and generally there are one of four main reasons behind their dislike! In this article, we will look into these four reasons, and make some suggestions of how you can address them. Read on to learn more!

A dislike of being restrained

However calmly and cheerfully you approach the procedure, clipping your dog’s nails is an unusual experience for them, and you cannot explain to your dog in terms that they will understand what is about to happen! Trimming the nails safely and effectively starts with effectively restraining the dog, usually by means of leads and someone to hold the dog and one of their limbs while you get on with the trimming.

Often, it is this process of restraint that triggers a dislike in the dog, and instantly puts them on edge and expecting something bad to happen before you even get so far as touching their nails. It is not a good idea to try to trim your dog’s nails without restraining them, so in order to address this problem, you should work on your dog’s issues with being restrained in the first place.

This may mean conditioning your dog progressively to accept being restrained stage by stage, with lots of reassurance and treats, over the course of several weeks before you ultimately approach them with the trimmers.

Unhappiness having their feet handled

While some dogs are amenable to being handled and restrained without a problem, the whole story changes when it comes to having their feet handled! Just like some people, some dogs really dislike having their feet touched, and they may be overly sensitive, ticklish, or just dislike the basic sensation of it. Added to this, in order to trim one foot’s nails, you need to lift it, and if your dog has poor balance or one limb that is sore or weak, this can provide added discomfort.

Address the problem by allowing your dog to lean against something when you take the weight off each limb in turn, and by gradually getting your dog used to having their feet touched. Start by stroking the tops of the feet, moving onto the paws, and ultimately, try to work up to being able to massage your dog’s paws. Once you get to this point, you may even be able to nip off your dog’s long nails without them even really noticing!

A previous bad experience with nail trims

It is all too easy to inadvertently cut too far when trimming the nails, particularly if your dog is struggling or fidgeting. Not only does this cause a painful shock to your dog, but nipping the nerve also often leads to a lot of bleeding, and sometimes, stress or panic on the part of the person doing the clipping!

If your dog has been nipped before, it can be really difficult to get them to relax in order to trim their nails another time. You may have to spend a significant amount of time working up to clipping by handling the paws, getting your dog used to seeing and sniffing the trimmer, and placing the trimmer on a claw without cutting. Obviously, it is really important to go very carefully in the future, to ensure that you do not nip or cut your dog and begin the whole process all over again!

An unusual situation causing stress

If you take your dog along to the vet or to a dog groomer to have their nails clipped, just the additional stress of this unusual situation can cause your dog to react badly to having their manicure! Try to take your dog along to the clinic or parlour just in passing now and then, to say hi and get a treat, so that they do not automatically see the visit itself as outside of their comfort zone.

Even if you clip at home, just the sound that the clippers make when they nip off a nail can make the dog jump, and when you bear in mind how effective clicker training is for dogs, it is no wonder that this short, sharp sound will make your dog sit up and take notice, or possibly jump.

Again, try to get your dog used to the sound of the clipper when you are not using it directly on your dog, and always ensure that nail clipping comes accompanied by lots of praise, reassurance and treats!

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