Trying to get your dog used to having his nails trimmed can definitely be a stressful situation — especially if you wait until your dog is past the puppy stage to try it for the first time.
While some dogs take longer to get used to the process of nail trimming than others, success ultimately comes down to 2 things:
With a little time and a lot of patience you will be able to trim your dog’s nails with little to no fuss.
Here are my best tips to help get your dog get used to a nail trim…
You can’t go into this thinking you’re just going to trim your dog’s nails quickly and correctly the very first time. No way. You can’t and you won’t. It’s a learning process — for both you and your dog.
That mindset alone will go a long way.
The idea is to spend several days (or weeks) in a row getting your dog used to all of the little movements and maneuvers that come into play when trimming a dog’s nails:
You want to do each of these things several times in a row and over several days before you actually clip the first nail.
That’s how you get your dog to relax while having his nails trimmed.
If you’re wondering about the steps involved with trimming a dog’s nails, here’s everything you need to know to trim a dog’s nails.
Personally, I think the most important thing to remember is to keep it fun for your dog. Otherwise, your dog will stress out… and so will you.
That might mean only doing one nail at a time — because that’s all your dog can sit still for at the moment.
One nail at a time, a couple times a day, might take you a full week to do all of his nails for the first time — but that’s okay! It’s not about how quickly you can trim your dog’s nails, it’s simply about getting those nails trimmed.
This video from a veterinarian has some great ideas for dealing with a dog that doesn’t like having his nails trimmed:
Remember, you’re also teaching your dog how to sit still and have patience with you and how to get comfortable with the process of having his nails trimmed.
The more often you do it, the quicker your dog will accept having his nails trimmed regularly — and it will no longer be a stressful situation, but rather some good quality time that the two of you can enjoy together.
I’ve been through this exact same nail training routine with 3 dogs that I’ve raised from puppies over the past 20 years.
In addition to keeping it fun for your dog, I think the next biggest thing is to start early — preferably a few days after you first bring him home. Of course, most people don’t think about trimming their dog’s nails during those first few days & weeks — so I know it’s not realistic, but it is helpful if you could fit it in.
The younger your dog is when he starts having his nails done, the more quickly he will adapt to the process — trust me.
With my third dog (now 5 years old), the process is incredibly simple. He will lay on his dog bed — on command — and roll over so I can reach all 4 paws easily. He pretty much lays there (snoring!) until he notices that I’ve stopped touching his toes. That’s when he gets all excited because he knows he gets a “fun treat” for being so good while having his nails done.
Now that kind of calmness didn’t happen overnight, but I can tell you it was definitely worth starting early with him — and I was always consistent with what I expected from him.
This is how I taught my dog to relax and enjoy (or put up with) the process of having his nails trimmed:
What if your dog doesn’t play along and do what you ask him to do? Maybe he won’t sit still and he just wants to run off…
You end the nail training session (without giving a treat). There’s no yelling, or reprimanding, or obvious frustration on your part — because it doesn’t make any difference. Your dog has already checked out. Get ready to start the nail training session again whenever your dog is already in a calm state. Over time, he will get better each time and last longer each time.
Oh, and I forgot to mention this one last thing…
At first, you should go to your dog — wherever he is (while he’s already in a calm state) — to trim your dog’s nails. Eventually, you will be able to get your dog to come to you to have his nails trimmed. I usually ask my dog to come to his dog bed — which I’ve positioned to be in the best light in the room — and I’m already sitting there when I call him. (Yes, he gets his first treat just for coming to his bed on command.)
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