How to Clip Dog Nails When Dog is Scared of It

Read to find out the most tested and trusted ways on how to clip dog nails when dog is scared of the process.

To clip a dog’s nails when they are scared can be daunting. Nail grooming is a task not a lot of people enjoy taking on – from pet owners to even professional groomers.


How to Clip Dog Nails When Dog is Scared of It

To make matters worse, even your dog may be one that hates to have his or nails clipped. Growling, lashing out, biting and general aggression are common behaviors canines display when it’s time for this practice.

The experience would even be more unpleasant for both you and your dog if he or she has come to associate nail clipping sessions with fear and dread.

However, no matter how much discomfort your pet is in while his or her nails are being cut, it is an activity that is not negotiable. Choosing to not have your dog’s nails cut may be the easy way to take. This comes with a set of negative results, though.

Disadvantages of not Cutting Your Dog’s Nails

Clipping your dog’s nails should be done regularly. According to experts, once you hear your pet’s nails making clicking sounds on any hard surface, he or she is overdue for a cut. This can lead to a few negative things:

They experience pain and discomfort in their feet

One of the most common negative results of your pet having excessively long toe nails is pain in their feet. Each time your dog walks or their feet touch a hard surface in some way, their nails are pressed into the nail bed. As a result, there are two things that happen.

The first is that the joints of the toes experience an uncomfortable pressure causing them to spread unnaturally. If this happens for a long stretch of time, it can lead to the second problem where your pet’s toe twists to the side.

Both results are very unpleasant for your dog. There would be too much strain placed on his or her ankles and it could cause arthritis. Even the mildest touch would be so uncomfortable for your dog, making it nearly impossible to successfully have their toes cut. They would be in a lot of pain.

Your dog’s long toes could cause damage or injury

When your pet’s nails are too long, the sharp claws are quite likely to scratch things. These things could range from your wooden floors to your sofa to your beddings. It could also be you or any other person around your dog.

Having learned the above, it can be seen that deciding to not get your pet’s toe nails groomed may be an appealing idea. However, in the long run, it isn’t a great choice at all.


Types of Nail Clippers


At the moment, there are two major types of nail clippers which you can use for grooming your pet’s toenails. Each clipper has been designed for specific purposes.

The best type of nail clipper for your dog would depend on his or her breed. Not every type is suitable for every dog. Another thing to take note of in the selection of a nail clipper is the length of the toenails which need to be cut.

Here are the various types of dog nail clippers:

  1. The Scissor-Type Nail Clipper

The Scissor-Type Nail ClipperIf your dog’s nails have become too long and are curved, the scissor-style nail clippers would be the most ideal type to use. When a dog’s nails have been neglected for a while and have become overgrown, the nails tend to curve inwards into the pads of their foot.

This is usually the case with dew claws – nails that grow at a higher point of a dog’s paws. Dew claws do not get to the ground and aren’t filed down by friction like the nails at the front of the paw.

The scissor-type nail clippers, also known as the Millers Forge Trimmers, are also perfect for larger dog breeds. This is for the reason that this type of clipper can effectively cut thick and tough nails due to the amount of force yielded whenever you clip.

That this type of clipper is most ideal for bigger canines doesn’t mean smaller breeds can’t benefit from it either. The scissor-type clipper can be found in a number of shapes and sizes.

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  1. Guillotine-Style Dog Nail Clippers

Guillotine-Style Dog Nail ClippersThe guillotine clippers simply slide down to snip off any object that has been kept in it when the handles are squeezed. It works for simple nail-trimming tasks and is great for small to medium-breed dogs.

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  1. Grinding Dog Nail Tool

Grinding Dog Nail ToolThis isn’t actually a clipper; however, it is an appliance to really consider if your canine finds clippers terrifying. The grinding dog tool is designed to work like a powerful nail file, grinding down your pet’s nails until the length is suitably reduced.

While it is a highly effective method, there are some down sides to it. The machine vibrates and could actually do the opposite of making your pet calm during the grooming session. The other disadvantage is that it could possibly take longer to complete.

However, if you take your dog through a few training exercises and you are patient enough, the results are usually worthwhile. This method even helps in shaping your pet’s nails as well.

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How to Clip Dog Nails When Dog is Scared of It :

Here’s a video that might help you.


How to Trim Your Dog’s Nails with No Stress

If you can help it, begin teaching your dog to get used to his or her nails being clipped as early as possible. As with nearly all dog training techniques, the best time is when they are puppies, right after they come home with you.

The process of getting your dog to be comfortable while they have their nails clipped begins way before the actual clipping activity. For the best results while nail grooming, you should train your pet to allow you touch his or her paws when you don’t have intentions of clipping their nails. Follow these tips and do so consistently, over a couple of days before the day you want to groom:

Start easily and gently. Begin with light touches, maybe on your pet’s shoulder.

Once your dog relaxes at your touch, give treats as rewards. Treats are very helpful in getting your dog to be calm while you work on his or her nails. They work well as distractions and are effective in applying the positive reinforcement technique.

Gradually progress downwards, getting to your dog’s leg and finally ending up at his or her paw. Ensure you give them treats with each step as they stay calm and relaxed.

If they continue to remain calm when you touch their paw, proceed to holding that paw in your hand for a little while.

Afterwards, start to touch the pads of the paw, beneath the toes before moving to the nails.

Gently touch the nails using your fingers and if your pet stays calm, start to apply a bit of pressure to the nails. This pressure would mimic the sensation of getting their nails clipped. In all these, keep giving your dog treats to let him or her know they are doing great.

Once you have successfully gotten your dog to remain relaxed as you touch their nails, you can then have a practice nail trimming session. Here is how you do so:

Begin by getting them used to the feel of clippers on their nails

Before doing anything else, try to get your pet to be comfortable with whatever type of clipper you have decided on.

You first start by touching your pet’s nails with random objects such as a straw, a small comb or a teaspoon. It could be anything at all as long as it is not dangerous. You do this while holding the paw in one hand and the object in another.

If your pet is still at ease with different objects on their nails, lightly touch the nails with the clippers and not actually do any clipping. If your dog behaves as though he or she is still comfortable, reward with treats.

Next, you can hold the clipper over each toe nail but do this without cutting.

You could hold it close to them for a significant time and even have them sniff it to help them become used to it.

Get them accustomed to the sound the clippers make when cutting nails

After the first step of getting them used to the feel of the clippers on their nails, the next thing would be to help them get comfortable with the sound.

Move away from where your pet is and squeeze the clipper until a sound can be heard. If the appliance you intend on using is mechanical, turn it on.

While the tool is turned on, feed your dog treats. Once you turn it off, stop the treats.

Combine the sound of the cutter and you holding your dog’s paw

When the previous process has been completed, you would then need to combine both the sound of the nail clippers with holding your pet’s paw in your hand. You can do this in the following way:

You would start this step by holding your pet’s paw and the nail clipping appliance close to the nail. Once close enough without actually cutting the nail or even touching it, squeeze the clipper so it produces the snapping sound that it makes when the nail is being cut.

If you would be using a mechanical device, turn on the tool and hold it close to your pet’s paw. Ensure you are careful and hold the tool far enough so it does not pull on your dog’s fur and cause an injury.

If for any reason, your pet displays behaviors of fear, stop and take a few steps back in the process. Afterwards, work your way forward to the point where you use the nail clippers.

Do this as many times as needed for them to become comfortable with the idea of having their nails groomed. Remember you need a load of patience.

Clip the Nails

Having completed the following steps above with your dog remaining relaxed and calm, you are now ready to actually trim his or her nails.

You would start by holding a paw as you did while you practiced but this time clip one of the nails using the clipper. Do this carefully and be sure you only clip the tail end of the nail, avoiding the quick. The quick is located towards the end of the nail.

It contains live blood vessels and not only would it cause pain to your dog, the nail will bleed if cut. Ideally, you can continue trimming until you see a white part with a dot in the middle. This can be done for both black and light-colored dog nails.

N.B: You never want to cut your dog’s nails too short. However, it should be short enough to discourage the quick from growing longer. Cutting his or her nails right up to the pulp actually helps the quick to recede.

If your dog stays calm after clipping one nail, generously reward with treats and praise. After one nail has been done, you can take a break, then come back and do another. Keep clipping one or two nails each time until you see that your dog is relaxed about having their nails groomed. You can then gradually build up to more nails during each session.

What to Do if You Cut the Quick of the Nail?

As mentioned previously, it is important to trim only the overgrown tip of your pet’s claws, right before the quick. However, even the most seasoned groomer can accidentally cut a nail too short. So, here are a few tips to take if you ever make this mistake:

Cornstarch and Water

Combine cornstarch and water, making a paste with the two items. Dog owners and pet groomers have proved that this remedy works every time.

Don’t clean off the blood. Instead, directly apply the paste using a cotton bud. The mixture would aid the nail in clotting and also heal the blood vessel. Leave the mixture on the nail for a few minutes. You could add another layer if you feel you have to.

If you don’t have access to corn starch, you could substitute it with baking soda and flour.

Potassium Permanganate

Many professionals including vets go for this method whenever a dog’s nails have been cut too short. It helps to stop the bleeding and is also a disinfectant.

To use this method, wet a cotton bud with water and dip it into the potassium permanganate crystals. Press the cotton bud and hold it to the injured nail for 30 seconds. This should stop the bleeding immediately.

A Bar of Soap

Lightly wet a mild soap bar and press your dog’s bleeding nail into it, holding it in place for about five minutes. The soap helps to clean as well disinfect and also aid in coagulating the blood.

Training an Older Dog to be Comfortable with Nail Grooming

It is a bit more of a challenge to successfully calm an older dog. However, with a bit of patience and a lot of time as well as dedication, it can be done.

Some older dogs are terrified of having their nails clipped as a result of certain past experiences. It could be from a time when they were uncomfortably restrained. Perhaps, it was even the occurrence of an injury after a quick was clipped or their paw was accidentally injured. It may be the sound of the clippers being squeezed that even scares them. Whatever the case may be, with a few steps, this fear can be significantly reduced if it doesn’t completely go away.

Start All Over

One way of helping your dog get over their fear of their nails being clipped is to completely switch to a new pair of clippers. It could be that he or she has come to have a negative association with the old pair you once used.

Getting a new clipper that looks different from an older one or even a completely new type could help greatly.

Obedience Training

Teaching your pet to understand the basic commands of ‘sit’, ‘stay’ and ‘down’ is generally extremely helpful when dealing with anxiety. The way obedience training helps is by causing your pet to listen to and trust you in a range of circumstances.

With regards nail clipping, obedience training teaches your dog to focus on you and your commands instead of their fear of the clipper or the act of grooming.


Extreme Cases

Having done all within your power to do and you still can’t successfully clip your pet’s toenails without a huge fuss, going to your vet or professional groomer would be the next best option.

If your dog’s case is quite severe, particularly if he or she is a heavy biter, they may need to have a muzzle placed on their mouths. Another option would be to use a sedative. It doesn’t matter whether or not they are biters; if they simply cannot stay still while their nails are being cut, they may need to be sedated.

All in all, your vet would be in the best position to suitably help you make the best choice for your canine friend.

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About David Huner

David Huner is a dog lover. Dog training has become a passion for him. With many years of experience he is here to share his tips and ideas. His goal is to provide exact dog training solutions. His favorite quote is "Train your dogs, enjoy your life and be happy"

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  1. My dog is really scared of these kinds of things, especially when it comes to clipping the nail. This was really helpful David Huner for sharing this valuable knowledge.

  2. Just what I was looking for! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  3. Hi,
    Thanks for sharing about these today I learned some new knowledge from this post. Keep sharing such as like this informative article.

  4. Hi, Smith very nice article.

  5. At this time I am going away to do my breakfast, later than having
    my breakfast coming over again to read additional news.

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