Your Dog Won’t Let You Trim His Nails? Try These Methods

By Aviram K.
February 3, 2021
4 min read
🏥 The information in this article is not a substitute for professional help.

So you’ve tried trimming your dog’s nails, but he just seems to hate it. What do you do now? How do you make the trimming process more enjoyable and convenient for both of you?

As a first step, if you haven’t done so already, familiarize yourself with how to trim your dog’s nails safely. Not safely trimming your dog’s nails can harm and cause him to fear the process, setting you back.

After you got the basics of how to trim right, here’s what you can do:

Over a few days or weeks, get your dog more comfortable with having his feet handled by handling them every day. Make sure to exercise him before the trimming session and distract him during the session. If that fails, you’ll need to slowly reintroduce the clipper or grinder. You can also try teaching your dog to file his own nails, or just go to a professional dog groomer or vet to handle that for you.

The most critical issue you need to get right is getting your dog comfortable with having his feet handled. Without this, your dog will never let you trim his nails. Let’s tackle that issue first.

Handle Your Dog’s Feet Everyday

This is much easier if you have a puppy without much knowledge ingrained yet, but it can work for dogs of all ages.

Commit to handling your dog’s feet every day until it becomes second nature for him.

Massage his feet, play with them, and squeeze the paw near the nail’s bottom to expose the nails more.

Reward your dog with verbal praise, treats, and pets each time you do this.

Within a few days or weeks, your dog should become much more comfortable having his feet touched and handled, making the trimming process much easier.


Exercise Your Dog Before You Try Trimming His Nails

A dog full of energy is much more likely to be uncomfortable, bite and chew your hands when you try to clip his nails.

Exercising your dog thoroughly right before the trimming session by going on a walk, or playing with him, can help a lot.

Don’t expect your dog to just sit there calmly when he’s all energized. Tire him out first.

Distract Your Dog When You Trim

Dogs don’t usually have great attention spans.

Distracting your dog with something he really likes may cause him to not pay attention to the fact that his nails are being trimmed.

You can try distracting your dog with a spoon full of safe peanut butter or simply his favorite chew toy.

Dog Still Hates It? Go Back and Slowly Introduce the Clipper or Grinder

If you’ve handled your dog’s feet every day and exercised him right before the trimming session, and he still seems to hate it - he may have developed a fear of the clipper or the trimming process.

You need to go back a step and slowly reintroduce the clipper or grinder.

Only do one step each day, making sure to lavishly reward your dog if he does well. If your dog seems to get stuck on any one step, you have probably done it too fast - in that case, go back a step and try the next day again.

  1. Let your dog sniff and lick the clipper or grinder.
  2. Touch the clipper or grinder gently to each of your dog’s paws.
  3. Touch the clipper or grinder gently to each of your dog’s paws and afterward use it (in the air, don’t actually trim). If it’s a clipper, squeeze it. If it’s a grinder, turn it on and let your dog hear and feel the vibration.
  4. Select just one nail on the front paw, and try a tiny piece of it. Repeat this every day (trimming only one nail) until your dog become comfortable with it.
  5. Trim a single nail fully. Remember that safety comes first, though. Don’t trim too far, or you’ll hurt your dog and risk introducing more fear.
  6. If your puppy does well each day, you can increase the number of nails trimmed in a day by one until you get to trim all the nails at once.


Try Teaching Your Dog To Dremel His Own Nails

This one is a bit unconventional. However, it may prove useful if you’ve tried all of the above and still failed.

You can actually teach your dog to dremel his own nails with these easy steps:

  1. Get some treats your dog loves, a towel, a large wooden board, and sandpaper. Tape the sandpaper to the board. Your dog will use the board and sandpaper combo will to file his own nails.
  2. Start by laying a towel on the ground and hide a few treats underneath. Guide your dog to it.
  3. When you get any paw action on the towel, immediately reward your dog verbally and with a treat (not the treat underneath the towel).
  4. After your dog reliably scratches at the towel, you can now wrap the board and sandpaper combo in the towel and try the same thing again.
  5. Reward your dog when he scratches at the board. Repeat this until he reliably scratches at the board.
  6. Expose the part of the board that is close to the dog and try the same thing again.
  7. After the dog reliably scratches at the exposed board, you can take the towel off entirely. Reward your dog for every successful scratch.
  8. That’s it, your dog can now file his own nails. Try the same thing again, focusing on each paw separately.

Getting back paws trimmed in that way may be challenging. What you can do for those is teach your dog to jump off of the board. By jumping, his back paws will lightly scratch the board and get slightly trimmed.

If you don’t want to go through the hassle of teaching your dog to jump off the board, you may need to trim those with a clipper or grinder.

Watch this video for a live demonstration:

Have the Professionals Trim Your Dog’s Nails

If you tried everything above, but still your dog won’t let you trim his nails, you can have the professional do it for you.

A professional dog groomer should know what to do and how to trim your dog’s nails quickly and easily. Look for one in your local area.

A vet can also trim your dog’s nails. And, in some severe cases of your dog not cooperating, the vet can sedate your dog and trim his nails with no resistance. Would not recommend going straight for this option, though.



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