How do I cut my dog’s nails?

A dog sat offering its paw to the camera ready to have its nails cut

Cutting nails is not for the faint hearted. Some pups don’t mind it, others loathe it, some are more wriggly customers that make the whole operation nearly impossible. Whichever camp your pup finds themselves in, nail trimming time can be a total farce and if you, like me, want to save some money and do it yourself, hopefully you can find some helpful tips below!

Get a good gadget!

I love our nail clipper because it is super easy to use and truthfully that’s why we got this one. It’s the first time we were trimming nails and we wanted something that was straightforward, simple and effective. It has a safety on it so between paws we can make sure there won’t be any accidents, plus it’s super sturdy – what’s not to love! There are lots of different options out there and I’d love to try some for you guys to let you know what works best, but currently, these are where my heart lies.

Stay calm.

For someone with anxiety, trust me, I know the above is not easy and I am terrible for getting Beans all riled up just because I’m anxious, but trust me, if you can keep a lid on it you are much more likely to have a productive experience. Try taking deep breaths and know that this is all going to be absolutely fine – it’s just like trimming your own toenails!

Get them used to the gadget.

It is so important getting your pup used to the nail trimer of your choice. Springing it on them will only cause them to panic, you to then panic and then they will never want to get their nails done again. Not good. We introduced the clipper to Beans by getting him to sniff it and then rewarding the behaviour, playing with him near it, touching his paws with it – all that good stuff. The more your pup gets used to the tool the happier they’ll be when it comes to trimming time.

Set aside a good amount of time to do this.

The last thing you want to do is rush. If this is the first time you’ll be trimming their nails you want to make sure you have everything ready and ample time to do it.

Get treats ready.

Preferably a treat you can give continuously. We love this meat paste as you can keep squeezing it out of the tube and keep them occupied while you do the job. I managed to do it by myself with Beans, who certainly falls into the anxious/wiggly camp and it worked perfectly.

Easy does it.

I found this super helpful when I was doing it for the first time. All you want to do is snip the ends off, if you get too close to the paw you are in very much danger of cutting the quick (which I did once and never want anyone or any pup to experience – it was horrible) so just take it easy. You can always come back to it and there’s absolutely no harm in coming back and cutting them once a week if you need to. There is no need to get them super short on your first try – it just puts unnecessary pressure on you and your pup. If you do catch the quick, don’t panic.

Your pup might yelp and it can bleed quite a lot but they are fine (if you are worried at all or you have gone down super far, pop into your vet and they can give you something to stem the bleeding). It is so important for you not to freak out as it’ll make your pup never want to get their nails clipped again, so grab some paper towel/a regular towel and try to stem the bleeding.

Give reassuring strokes to your pup and try to minimise their movement so a clot can form. Once the bleeding has stopped, reintroduce your clippers to them again and treat when they nose it etc, just to encourage them that the clippers aren’t the problem. Do not beat yourself up about this. It can happen to anyone, even professional groomers and especially if your pup has dark nails (it can be really hard to see where the quicks are). Don’t give up, just take your time.

Do not treat after it’s done.

This sounds super weird and kind of mean, but honestly, don’t do it. What you are inadvertently doing is rewarding your pup for the task being over, therefore, when it next comes to nail time, they want it to be done as that is when they get their treat. Instead, just give a good old scritch and act as nonchalant as possible, even if you are doing backflips inside.

Just remember you are doing something new for the first time and you aren’t expected to get it right 100%

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