Husbandry – nail trimming

It’s so important to keep a dog’s nails short. It’s so bad for them if their nails touch the ground as they walk. Imagine how it feels when you’re in too-short shoes and every step you make pushes your nails back into your toes. Sore, isn’t it? It’s the same thing for dogs. Not only that, but nails that are too long will also push your dog back onto his heels, putting strain on his joints, which can cause serious damage over time.

This article explains more and in greater depth. The video on that page is well worth a watch, as it explains a different way of trimming your dog’s nails to the standard cut, and is the cut I use to keep the nails as short as necessary.

I had a really hard time with the Two Bigger Doggies getting them to accept having their nails done. In fact, it’s still very much a work in progress. I can clip all of Shadow’s nails in one session now, but I can’t use the Dremel on him. Willow, on the other hand, won’t tolerate the clippers and, as her nails grow like weeds, I have to Dremel them a lot. When she then goes through a phase, like she is at the moment, of hating the Dremel again, I end up very quickly with a dog with too long nails once more. It’s tiresome to say the least, so I’m making a concerted effort to do everything right from the start with This Little Doggy.

Every couple of days, I take the tiniest sliver off each nail with the clippers. I have these ones, by Millers Forge, which are wonderful compared to the last pair I had. They are very sharp and very quiet, so they slice through the nail with no undue pressure and there is no loud noise which can startle the dog.

Each session, I begin with a little bit of desensitisation and counter conditioning, before I actually start clipping. So, simply picking up her paw and treating her for that, then playing with her nails, and slowly reintroducing the sensation of the clippers touching the claw, making it rewarding. It may be a little painstaking and may be unnecessary for the Squidge, who is pretty ambivalent about it, but I’d rather take things slowly at this stage to avoid any issues later on. It’s so much better to go through a programme of accustoming her to the process so I can manage to do this myself at home. It’s far less stressful for everyone than if she needed to be restrained or to go to a salon for it.

This video only shows the clippers; I did start using the Dremel when she was younger, but she had a tendency to try and eat it, which wouldn’t have been ideal, so I put that on hold until she was old enough to sit still for a while. I think she’s more than ready to try it again now, so watch this space for that video.

You’ll notice I’m not using a clicker in this video – that’s simply because it’s one too many things to juggle alongside the clippers. So, although you can’t really hear it, I’m using a marker word, “yes”, instead. It’s not quite as effective as the clicker, but it’s good enough.

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