Good morning; I first want to tell you that I have joined the I love my dogs fan site. I would like to thank everyone over there for the warm welcome. This new site is a wonderful extension of the HUGE Facebook site I love my dog. I am very excited about this new endeavor.
It is nail day at my house; a day that comes around every couple of weeks or more. I know the whole issue of nail cutting is a scary one for many canine guardians. Anyone can cut or dremmel their dog's nails, you just need to be aware of a few things. Being that I started my whole dog life in the conformation show ring; nails are a non issue for me. It is something you simply have to do when you have dogs going in the ring; the judge is noticing everything. There are several options with regards to doing nails; you can cut them with either a guillotine type clipper, the scissor type or a dremmel. I have used all of these and have now after 30 years of cutting nails; settled on the dremmel.
The first nail cutter that I used was the guillotine type; which worked great but I found that the scissor type gave me a better cut. When you do cut your dogs nails it is very important to just cut off the very tip. If you are lucky and your dog has white nails then you can actually see the quick and avoid cutting it. A dogs nail has an inner fleshy part called the quick which is surrounded by the hard nail protection. If you cut too far and hit the quick it will bleed; and that hurts. The deeper you hit the quick the more it hurts; so you must be careful. Less is more when cutting nails.
Many dogs keep their nails ground down simply by walking; if you have one of these then you are lucky. But most need a trimming now and then. The back feet tend to stay shorter as they are used to propel the dog into motion. So they often don't need as much attention as the front feet. When a dog's nail are left too long it interferes in the way that they walk. The proper length is just clearing the ground when standing in a relaxed position. You should be able to slip a sheet of paper under them. Some people keep their dog's nails very short; but you must be careful not to hit the quick.
No matter which means you decide on for doing your dog's nail you must prepare your dog. Lots of positive association work before the actual cut. A common scenario is created when you begin to cut without preparation. Your dog freaks out; causing you to hold them tighter, this freaks them out even more and they fight harder. This is freaking you out now and you grab them tighter so that you don't cut their quick. The whole scene snowballs until the dog is completely and 100% convinced that nail cutting is the worst thing in the world; they don't forget this.
To start off on the right foot so to speak; introduce the clippers and food. Show the clippers and give your dog a treat. Again baby steps are the way to success here; touch the clipper on your dog's foot, treat. Tap the clipper on their nail and treat. Do this over several days until you can pick up your dog's foot and clip one nail then treat without resistance. If you get resistance from your dog then you still have positive association work to do. NEVER EVER hold you dog down firmly to cut their nails; instead make getting their nails cut a worth while necessity.
For Dremmel usage; I found it best to work on the positive association and then up to barely touching the nails for a half second. This was done for several days in a row until my dogs were showing no signs of stress. When you use a dremmel you must be careful not to burn your dog's nails. The dremmel heats up the nail with by friction so small 1-2 second touches ensure that you don't burn their nails.
To this day I still give all the dogs a treat after having their nails done. Do they enjoy it? No. But do they tolerate it? Yes. I have made it very clear that if they let me do this then they will receive a treat at the end. It is also important to build trust with your dog; more on that in a later blog.
If you do hit the quick by mistake; there is a product called quick stop that you can apply. The bleeding typically stops quickly; if it does not stop within an hour, call your vet.
Step by step how to cut your dog's nails