How to Clip Your Scared Dog’s Toenails

How to Clip Your Scared Dog's Toenails

It’s time for that monthly drama that you both dread. Trimming your dog’s nails!

The toenail clippers come out and your dog makes a beeline for the crate to hide and hope that maybe you will just lose your nerve. He is trembling and giving you the “Please no!” eyes. Your own anxiety starts to rise and you briefly consider putting off getting his nail’s trimmed for another week.

This drama is playing out in households across the nation on a daily basis. Dogs and owners everywhere are dreading the having their nails trimmed. It doesn’t have to be this way!

Wondering how to clip your dog’s nails when your dog is scared? This article will walk you through how to change this dynamic so that trimming your dog’s nails from home isn’t such a traumatic event.

Can’t I just skip it?

Unfortunately, no, you can’t. If your dog’s nails get too long it can lead to serious problems. Time to put those nail clippers to work.

Your dog’s posture is, in part, determined by their toenails. When the nails touch the floor, it sends signals to his brain that he is on an incline and he compensates his stance accordingly. Over time this creates undue stress on joints and in some cases, it can do permanent damage to dogs soundness.

In addition, long toenails on dogs twist the toes out of alignment, which can cause lameness as well as contribute to arthritis in the joints of the feet.

Why is my dog scared of having her nails clipped?

Toes are sensitive areas and many dogs would simply prefer you don’t mess with their feet or nails, even on a good day. If there has been some trauma associated with nail clipping in the past, then the memory can cause a PTSD type of reaction to even the sight of the nail clippers.

In many cases for dogs, the initial trauma is having been “quicked.” This is when you trim too far and cut into the tender nail bed of your dog. This is extremely painful and often leads to a bloody mess.

Once a dog has a fear of having her toenails trimmed, or even simply fears the nail clippers, many well meaning owners make things worse for their dog without realizing it.

“You’re not going to get away with this nonsense!”

Many people want to know how to restrain a dog to clip it’s nails. This method of dog nail trims involves trying to muscle through a scary experience. This technique often includes squeezing the paws too hard (ouch!) or forcefully restraining the dog while they are terrified. This will (not can, will) lead to a cascading fear that erodes the trust bond between owners and their dogs.

This is a recipe for disaster, and it should be avoided at all costs. Instead, take the time to teach your pooch to be more comfortable, not more fearful, of the toenail clipping ritual.

“Oh no! You poor, poor baby! I am so sorry!”

Your dog is extremely tuned in to your emotional state during nail trims. If you are getting too emotionally involved and expressing your own fears and anxieties, then it is only going to add to the trauma of any nails related event for your dog.

“Forget it!”

Giving up is a common response, particularly for the owner of the melodramatic pooch. You can’t let your dog win this one. You know what is best for her and you have the responsibility to get the job done.

All of these responses to the drama of trimming make things worse by adding to the trauma of the nails experience, deepening the fear response. Here is the good news: No matter how bad things are, they can get better.

My dog won’t let me cut his nails! What can I do?

Loving dog owners are often traumatized by repeatedly going through this nail trim drama with their dogs. If any of the above responses sound familiar to you, just recognize they aren’t working and may even be making things related to even touching the nails worse. Instead, try to have confidence that you can change this event to a positive one.

Take your emotion out of it, and try these techniques:



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