Caring For Your Dog: Taking the Frustration Out of Nail Trims

grooming handling Jan 30, 2024

 Let’s talk nail trimming! We believe this is an invaluable skill to teach your dog (or puppy!) as soon as possible. 

First, let's talk tools! Our favorite tools consist of a quality dremel and a good pair of clippers. For young puppies, you can try a human nail clipper since their nails are so tiny and easy to clip! For the dremel, we prefer to use a diamond bit. These do not heat up like regular sandpaper bits, and the top of them have a special piece for rounding out the nail. They also last much longer, which is an added bonus!

One of Our Favorite Dremels

Diamond Bit for the Dremel

One of Our Favorite Sets of Clippers

Individual needs will vary by dog, but we typically recommend a combination of trimming and using a dremel. It's good practice to get your dog comfortable with both options! 

Conditioning your dog to having their nails clipped can take time. Starting young (before 16 weeks of age) and making it a positive experience is the best way to set your dog up for success. If your dog is older, that's okay! These tips will help you with the conditioning process either way -

  • Frequently practice handling drills with your dog. More on those here! If your dog is older, consider getting them comfortable laying on their side or standing on a grooming table.
  • Move through each step S L O W L Y. Each step in the conditioning process could take your dog a 1-2 weeks to become comfortable.
  • Once ready, touch the tool to your dogs nail. If they don’t pull away, reward. If they do resist, go back to the first step of touching nails and apply light pressure to each. 
  • If using a dremel, turn it on and have your dog get used to just the sound. If your dog willingly smells, licks, or shows interest- reward!
  • Next, touch the bottom of the dremel to the nail, and reward.
  • Once they begin to get used to the vibration and sound of the bottom of the dremel touching their nail, being dremeling one nail at a time and rewarding.
  • Always end on a good note. Don’t move too fast!

A note on trimming the nails of an adult dog - You can use the handling position if its comfortable for them, or we recommend elevating them on a grooming table (or a similar surface!). There are two options for how to hold your adult dog's paw for trail trims if on an elevated surface - out front so their leg stays mostly in line with their body or tucked under them. You want to avoid stretching your dog’s legs out to the side at an awkward angle. This can be uncomfortable and add to the possible stress of nail trimming.  

For a full list of our recommended toys and tools, check out this page!


Check out the other posts in this series here:

Caring For Your Dog: Getting a Handle on Handling Drills

Caring For Your Dog: Making Your Dog a Grooming Rockstar!

Caring For Your Dog: How to Brush Your Dog's Pearly Whites



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