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Nail trimming


TxMom
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I've tried gradually building up comfort with paw handling and rewarding with treats for nail trims, but Livi wants none of it and she seems to react specifically to the actual moment the nail is clipped. In fact, she was pretty ok about me handling her paws until after the first time I trimmed her nails. Is there any chance the clippers I have are causing unnecessary discomfort, or that I'm doing something wrong, or is it just an acclimation thing? These are the ones I have: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000UGEVDQ?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o03_s01

 

She's generally very polite and tolerant of being touched. She loves everyone she meets and is happy to let anyone pet her, including kids. She didn't like being brushed at first but I've seen significant improvement there while I think she's getting worse about the nail trimming. Just makes me wonder if I'm doing something wrong. I don't want this to turn into a big deal if I can help it.

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This is the kind of clipper I use too.

 

I've noticed that my dogs react to the clippers some times even when I'm far enough away from the quick that I wouldn't think they'd feel it, so I think maybe there's pressure that hurts or scares them even then. So I reposition the clippers a tad further away from the quick and try another snip just a teeny bit closer, or else angle the clippers so that I can trim off some more of the nail from each side. That usually works; I'm just not getting the nails quite as close as I think they should have been, but that's OK.

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Those clippers should work fine. I agree with Gentle Lake's suggestion of just taking off a little snip. I don't usually clip as close as I 'could', but I would rather not have to deal with the blood from cutting the quick and also don't want to hurt the pup.

 

You could also try just cutting one nail at a time, or just the nails on one paw. My older dog doesn't like his nails clipped, so I will do only one paw or two paws at a time, with liberal treats. Then the next day or 2 or 3 days later, I will do another paw or two to finish up.

 

When I start cutting the nails of a pup, I also do a lot of paw handling, then treat, and work up to separating the toes and pinching the nails with my fingers to try and approximate clipping - always with a treat afterwards. Then when I cut the nails, I do one nail, treat, next nail, treat, etc. And build from there.

 

Is there a way you can have someone holding a treat that is lickable? While Livi is distracted by licking the treat, you might be able to sneak in a clip or two or three. Just don't push it too much at this young age. Build up gradually.

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I LOOOVE trimming nails. I have such a problem.

 

There is a fantastic group on facebook called Nail Maintenance for Dogs, it's full of smart people and resources for nail trimming and desensitization.

 

One thing you (and perhaps GentleLake) should check is that your clippers are nice and sharp. A dull blade will crush the surrounding nail, rather than cutting straight through. Think a dull needle vs. a sharp one. I use the same type of clipper and love it. But I have a Dremel on my Christmas wish list.... It definitely helps to take off slivers rather than chunks. Also try different angles. It sounds ridiculous, but I always clip nails with Keeper next to me on his back. I've found that clipping quickly and with confidence can help ease their discomfort.

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My clippers are sharp, but thanks for the suggestion.

 

The lickable treat idea's a great one. If you're able to get down on the floor and clip while the dog is standing up (I'm not able to do that any more), the way they do it at Glen Highland Farm rescue is fantastic. They smear thin layer of peanut butter over a fairly a large area onto the side of a fridge at the dog's eye level. The dog's usually so preoccupied with licking the peanut butter off that they can clip nails with the dog barely noticing. It's brilliant!

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I'll try for more distraction, more treats, and trimming in smaller increments. I think it may be that I'm trying to trim too close -- less aggressively and more frequently might be the solution, which would be fine. I'm not terribly worried about her current toenail condition; I just want to eventually get to a place where it's not a big deal. We're also working on handling ears, mouth, tail, etc.

 

I'll let y'all know how it works out!

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One thing I did with my dogs (who don't really mind having their nails trimmed now, but used to hate it) don't actually clip the nail, but just pretend to do it at first. Once she is ok with that clip one nail and then give an awesome treat and be done with nail clipping for the day do this until you manage to clip every nail. Then next time you need to clip do two nails at a time ... Ect until you can do them all in one sitting. It may take 10-20 days to get them all the first time, but eventually it will get easier. I also always make sure they get something super tasty for letting me clip their nails.

 

Also think about what position your dog is comfortable in. Some dogs clip better on their backs getting a belly rub, some on their side, Some sitting, some laying down... Just find out what position makes your dog relax a little. My dogs won't let me near them with any kind of electric nail trimmers.

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Honestly dogs in general do not like it. Not sure the reason but if dogs could talk that is one question I would ask them. It is the single most common thing that owners can not/will not do. Dogs can be a royal pain is the butt if not taught to simply accept it. As a vet tech for 20 years I have seen dogs that Had to be sedated for nail trims which is just insane.

 

Yes there is a blood vessel and nerve there in the nail. The thing I have found that works best is to simply do it, make them sit there, stand or even lie and in two minutes you are done. Do it every week as a pup and they just accept it. Some stand I do them like a horse, some sit for front feet but turn when doing rear paws so simply lie them down on their side. The secret for me that I teach every dog that comes to me and gets nails done is you do not get your foot back until you are still and not complaining. I try not to let them pull the paw from my hand ever, if they do I simply pick it up again. They get corrected if they pull and complain with a gruff voice. I do not coddle or baby. It is a simple task and I approach it matter of fact - simple fact of life that you will need this done every month or so for the rest of your life, sit here be good and then you get rewarded when I am done with all 4. Yes I have clipped them short and yes they have bled, I say sorry and we move on. If that is the worst thing that happens to them they are lucky. Treat it like it is - just a simply thing - dont give in to their drama and they will stop.

Even dogs that have come to me when working as a tech or grooming that were ridiculous able nail trims learn that I will do it and it is easy to simply be good. There are some I still muzzle and there are are a few that take 2 people. Most learn that i do not play the poor dog game and they accept it. If I have a super bad dog I will lay it on its side and have person hold it while I trim. I imagine there is a photo on the net somewhere on how to hold a dog in lateral recumbency.

Dog on its side and the person holding is behind dog, one hand holding lower front leg with elbow on dogs shoulder and the other had holding lower rear paw with that arm over hips. The slight pressure if needed on hips and shoulders combined with holding Lower paws keeps dogs from rolling up. Anyone at your vet clinic should be able to show you how to do it well - good skill to have when you need it.

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FWIW, a little dog of mine previously fought kicked and was willing to bite over clipped nails (even though she is otherwise a sweet compliant little thing), It took 2 humans to restrain an 8 lbs dog. It turned out to be the snap f the clippers. Once I started with a dremel she will lie on her back and let me do it with no fussing.

 

Worth considering.

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Do you have a second person who can help you?

 

My husband and I always clip our dog's nails as a team. He makes the dog comfortable and I take care of the nails. We always start out with him feeding lots of treats as I am working on the nails. Over time, my dogs haven't needed that anymore.

 

All of mine are to a point where I can do them by myself if need be, but my husband and I still do this as a team as often as we can.

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And then there's mine. She was fine for awhile, then just decided she didn't like clipping. At. All. She'll pull and fight and I'm actually worried she'll injure herself. Once in awhile, I can get one or two clipped. And yes, I've tried the peanut butter distraction; the "pretend" to clip and treat (over and over and over); all body positions, though on her back is her fav. She doesn't like the sound of the Dremel at all (all of my other dogs have been VERY tolerant of that). BUT - now this is weird - she will let me FILE all day long. Of course, it actually takes almost all day to do all her nails this way! But I found a very wide, very coarse file at my local drugstore (maybe for filing callouses on human heels?), and that's what we do. I usually do a couple a day, most days. So eventually we get the job done. Thankfully, she gets to run on sandstone much of the time, so nails don't get very long. Sigh. Dogs!!

 

diane

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Y'all have never had the displeasure of clipping my late Tilly's nails. . . . You're lucky. Like someone else mentioned, I was in fear that she'd hurt herself trying to avoid nail clipping. She had the alligator roll down pat, and I seriously think she would have broken a leg rather than submit, no matter how calmly and forcefully I held onto her. I'd finally let go.

 

Mostly took her to the groomer for nail clipping where I'd hold on to her front end, his assistant would also hold onto her, and she'd still manage to almost fall off the table trying to getting away while the groomer was clipping. During the last couple years of her life, when she was frail and didn't travel well, I let her nails go until she had her semi-annual vet check ups and let them do it. It took three of us there to get them done, too, with lots of screaming (from the dog; people in the waiting room thought we were killing her) and the last time she peed all over the vet tech.

 

She was 6 years old when I adopted her so I don't know if she had a terrifying (to her) experience with nail trims or not.

 

Some dogs just don't respond to desensitization or all the tricks we have to throw at them. :wacko:

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^^ Ditto most of the other dogs I've had.

 

I'm lucky Tansy's nails seem to be soft and keep themselves at a perfect length. I think she'd be as bad as Tilly was. If I'm lucky, I can trim the rear dewclaws without much drama by quietly and nonchalantly sneaking up on her when we're watching TV. Front dewclaws are harder to do, but if I do only one and then the other about a week later I can manage.

 

Another rescue, adopted at 6 months old, I don't know if she had a bad experience or what. The first time I tried to brush her a few days after I brought her home, she went seriously Cujo on me. She was fighting for her life! We've gotten past that, but not the nails. I was so excited when I adopted her. She was the first dog I've had whose nails were all white so I could see the quick on all of them. But I still can't cut them. :rolleyes:

 

Again, some dogs just don't respond to desensitization, not giving in to the drama, delicious treats or tricks.

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I was so excited when I adopted her. She was the first dog I've had whose nails were all white so I could see the quick on all of them. But I still can't cut them. :rolleyes:

 

This was my exact thought with Livi! White nails: no problem, this will be easy. Ha. Although now I'm wondering if being able to see the quick made me more confident to clip further back than I would otherwise and maybe that's part of the problem. I'm still hopeful she'll come around with help from the advice here... but if not, I'll feel better knowing I'm in (lots of) good company! I'm sure my husband will help me out if need be. He does the cats' claws, bless him.

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