Q: I’m trying to get my dog to let me trim her toenails. Do you have any tips for making this easier? She is not very good at holding still and I’m afraid that I’m going to trim the nails too close and make them bleed.
A: I’ll try to give you a few tips for making the nail-trimming process easier, starting with simply rubbing your dog’s feet a lot. Doing this on a daily basis will help most dogs to feel more comfortable with their paws being handled. Thus, they are less likely to constantly try to pull their paws away from you when you are attempting to trim the nails.
Second, make sure that your dog is in place where she can relax while you are trying to trim her nails. If there is too much activity or excitement going on around her, she is less likely to hold still. If she has a favorite treat, have some ready to give her after you get each paw completed to let her know that she is getting a reward for holding still while you work on the nails.
Third, make sure that you have a good pair of nail trimmers. They should be appropriately sized for the size of your dog, meaning that you shouldn’t use a huge pair of nail trimmers on a small dog. Most importantly, make sure the blade is very sharp. You want to make a nice clean cut, not have a dull trimmer actually crush part of the nail, which will cause pain.
Lastly, if you simply aren’t comfortable with trimming your dog’s nails, then don’t do it. Take her to your veterinarian or a groomer who is comfortable with the process and good at it. Many dogs can sense an owner’s hesitation and anxiety, which makes them more nervous and agitated. It only takes a couple of bad nail trimming experiences at home for some dogs to hate having their nails trimmed for the rest of their lives. Know your own limitations.