3 Helpful Tips to Trim Your Dog’s Nails

Trimming your dog’s nails is an important part of being a pet owner. Any part of grooming a dog is important, but leaving those nails long can ultimately cause health issues and can be just plain uncomfortable.

3 Helpful Tips to Trim Your Dog's Nails

In just a moment I will share some of my own personal tips I find helpful to trim your dog’s nails. And hey, if it helps my huskies nails get done, hopefully it will help you too!

How could long nails possibly cause health issues to my dog?

  • Long toenails can easily get split and infected
  • A dog’s nail can literally grow so long it will wrap around and begin to grow into the pad of their paw.
  • A dog who walks on long nails for a prolonged period of time can have issues with bone structure in their senior days.

How do I know if my dog’s nails are too long?

  • Does his/her nails click on the floor as they walk? If so, they could be too long.
  • Hold your dog’s paw, press on his toe making his nail fully extend. If the nail curves down longer than his paw pad. Its time for a trim.

Some of you might be thinking… wolves or animals in the wild don’t get their nails trimmed for them. While that is quite obviously true, a wild animal is on their paws outdoors, day and night. Constantly wearing down the nails naturally. That’s the difference. However, it is definitely possible if you take your dog for loads of walks on the pavement, or if they spend a lot of time outdoors, that their nails can wear down enough that you don’t need to trim too often. This is not the case for all dogs.

Now that we have covered the importance of trimming your dog’s nails, lets get to the down and dirty. To be perfectly honest, some dogs absolutely hate their nails being trimmed – which I am sure some of you know – and that is where these tips can help you.

Helpful Tips to Trim Your Dog’s Nails:

  • The key to our nail trimming woes is as follows… paw handling. It is super important that your dog is comfortable letting you handle any part of him. From head to tail. Paws are especially important for this. If your dog isn’t a fan of having his paws touched, that is most likely the reason you could be having a hard time trimming those nails. Start slow. If you rush your dog into being comfortable with you touching his paws, it will only backfire and make things worse. While your dog is cozy, curled up having a good ol’ chillax, take advantage. Sit down on the floor or couch with him, and begin to pet him. While your petting his head with one hand, move your other hand to his leg with a pet here and there. Work your way down to his paw. Do this with each leg, and caress his paw until he moves it away. You might have to do this every day for a week or two before he gets used to the idea.
  • Introduce treats. If the above method isn’t working, time to bring in the big guns! Yummy, high value treats. Follow the steps I mentioned above, but add the fact of having his favorite treats. Once you get to his paw and you know he’s about to get uncomfortable, hand him a treat. Use this time to begin touching his paws. Let him chew his treat while you are caressing his paws. Again, do this for about a week or two.
  • Once you’re sure that your pooch is comfortable having his paws touched by you. Introduce the nail trimmers. Again, wait till he is in a chillaxed state, go sit by him, bring yummy treats and the clippers. Before you touch his paws, let him sniff the clippers while you are petting him. Give him a small treat or two while he is investigating the clippers. Now try a trim! Do one nail, then give him a treat right away. If he gets too freaked out, it is best to stop completely. Try again the next day. And continue to touch his paws on a daily basis.

These tips can take some time to achieve, but trust me, once you get the hang of it – nail trims don’t seem so bad anymore. To you, or your dog! Do you have any tips to add? Feel free to share them with us in the comments!

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jenna drady headshotJenna Drady

Jenna Drady is the author and creator of ownedbyahusky.ca. She is a mother of two beautiful daughters and 3 Siberian Huskies. Being a husky mom for a long duration of her life, Jenna was inspired to begin writing about them. In doing so, she began doing massive research on dog behavior, and all things dog in general. Jenna is inspired everyday by her family, and loves to bring her readers valuable information as well as a little humor too! Jenna has created her own business partnered with her lovely mother while blogging called Pawz N Clawz Jewelry N Things. They currently sell handmade jewelry with added pet charms, as well as a few dog toys too! As an animal rights activist, and huge believer in helping pets who have been stuck in shelters, they donate a portion of their sales to local shelters throughout Canada.

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28 Responses to 3 Helpful Tips to Trim Your Dog’s Nails

  1. Rachel says:

    These are great tips for trimming my dog’s nails. We’ve never actually done it ourselves. We have always taken him to the vet or a groomer when it’s time for a nail trim. But your tips seem very helpful and we just may have to give it a try and save him the car ride (which he’s not a fan of).

  2. We’re constantly battling nails. They’re shorter now but not as short as they could be.

  3. Shayla says:

    Oh man, I am always telling clients to make sure they are keeping nails short! It’s hard watching a pup walk into class on day one with nails so long they curl under! Get them used to it as young as possible, so worth it! Love this!

  4. Tamara says:

    What if you have pups that know what the clippers are and totally lose it on sight?
    Our first pup was abused before we got her and it only took one slip during a trim for the other to lose all trust of the clippers.

    • Jenna Drady says:

      Aw i’m sorry to hear that! What I usually tell people in cases like this one is to first teach the dog that clippers are not bad. So rather than worrying about cutting nails at this point, put that on the back burner for now… time to work on positive association. Every day bring the clippers out, a couple times a day if you have time. Paired with those, have extremely high value treats on hand. Something extra tasty and that the dog doesn’t get every day. Before you let your dog even see those clippers, sit next to him/her and give a yummy treat while praising. Then sort of just set the clippers on the floor away from you. Let him notice they are there, but do not touch them. Keep praising and giving small sized treats to keep his mind on you and food rather than those clippers. Do this for as many days as it takes, then take it a step further. Hold the clippers in your hand while your other hand is handing out treats and pets. Do this for as many days as it takes. If your dog is okay with that, take it another step… with the clippers in hand, begin to touch his paws, do not attempt a clip. Just have the clippers near his paws while your touching the general area, give treats and praise the entire time. If your dog isn’t okay with this take a step back and continue doing whatever step you left off on. Then in a week or so, try again. This may take quite some time, and a lot of patience, but well worth it if you can succeed with it for sure. Best of luck!!!

  5. Cathy Armato says:

    It’s so important to keep dogs’ nails well trimmed! This is good advice, starting slow & creating a positive experience. Make sure you have the right size trimmer for your dog’s nails & that it hasn’t gotten dull is important too!
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  6. Jana Rade says:

    For a couple of years we had instituted a “a nail a day” approach; trimming one nail every day. That worked great but now, with Cookie continuing with her PT visits, having the tech do that is even a better idea LOL

  7. These are great tips. I’m a huge wimp about trimming nails. I always have been and often let the groomer or vet do it for me. I do occasionally do it myself, but always get super stressed and probably stress Ruby about it, too.

    • Jenna Drady says:

      Thats actually a great thing to add! We ourselves have to try and do our part to not make it seem like a big deal as well. Sometimes that can be difficult!! :/

  8. Tried ALL of these and little Mr. still has a full on freak for his nails. So we go to a pro every 3 weeks. At $5 it’s best for me to delegate the Divo attitude to someone else. SAME person for over 6 years. Never a hurt, never an oooops, never so much as a pinch … and yet he still acts like it’s the end of days. LOL

  9. These are such great tips. I have been playing with my dogs paws since the day I brought them home. There is not an area of their bodies I cannot touch. I think a lot of people don’t take the time to use treats and positive reinforcement so nail trimming becomes a big issue.

  10. Having long nails can be very detrimental to a dog’s confidence in walking. Thanks for these tips in trimming a dog’s nails. Dexter goes to the groomer every 2 weeks for a nail trim.

  11. Beth says:

    My dogs aren’t fans of having their nails clipped, even though I touch their paws all the time. I am worried about cutting them too short, so I take them into the groomer or vet for nail trims.

  12. Ruth Epstein says:

    I pay my groomer to do Layla’s nails or when at a vet visit, I will not try to do it myself

  13. Jodi Chick says:

    We’ve struggled for years to keep Felix’s nails at a good length. His first owner let them get far too long and now his quicks are so far grown out :/ We’ve had better luck with the dremel than with the clippers and over the last few years he’s gotten much better at letting me dremel.

  14. Many of the same things hold true for trimming the claws of cats, except cat’s claws retract. I usually know it’s time for a trim when the girls tap my hand for a treat and I feel sharpness. Truffle is okay with nail trims, but I’ve had to patiently work with Brulee. She’s getting better.

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