Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Clipping a Dogs Nails Without Causing Bleeding and Pain

There was no way in Aspen's lifetime that she ever was well behaved during a nail clipping. And Happy, our Pom also has had to learn to cooperate with nail clipping.  My husband would hold Aspen firmly against him as I clipped, until she finally would let me clip them in older years because she wasn't as strong as she used to be.  It is good to learn how to do this properly, or you can get very frustrated as a pet owner, and your pet could be injured if you clip the nails beyond the vein that is in the nail.  Here is an article that you might find helpful. 

Improving a Dog’s Response to Nail Clipping Using Paws-itive Conditioning

By: Sandy Tuniewicz

The purpose of this document is to teach the dog owner specific methods of conditioning a dog to enjoy clipping of the nails.


Some pets accept nail trimming without much fuss, but others will not tolerate it at all. This document addresses some methods of modifying the anti-clipping behavior of the dog through training and conditioning.


Use a clicker or a special word as a marker to show the dog when it is doing the right thing. The marker is a bridge between the behavior and the food/treat. In this example we’ll use the word “YES” as the marker.


• Keep the dog’s interest during conditioning sessions by varying the food treats so the dog never knows what he’s getting.
• Have several different treats each session.


You can condition your dog as follows:

1. Touch the dog’s toe. If the dog doesn’t pull away, say “Yes,” and give him a yummy food treat. If the dog does pull away, try again only touching the floor in front of the toe first, then touching the toe. Note: Yummy food treat means steak, chicken, string cheese, ham or some other special treat that has a high value to your dog and that your dog does not every day. The treats should be in tiny pieces, about the size of a pinky nail.

2. Repeat this process for all front and back toes.

3. Once you can touch his front and back toes, put a little pressure on the nail like you would if you were clipping them. If the dog doesn’t pull away, say “Yes,” and give him a yummy food treat. If the dog does pull away, go back to just touching the dog’s toes, and progressing until you can put a little pressure on the nail.

4. Repeat this process for all toes.

5. Put the toe nail clippers in front of the toe. If the dog doesn’t pull away, say “Yes,” and give him a yummy food treat. If the dog does pull away, go back to just putting a little pressure on the nail, and progressing to putting the nail clippers in front of the toe.

6. Repeat this for all toes.

7. Once you’ve accomplished the above, try clipping one toe nail. Note: Starting with the back nails can work well.

8. Clip one nail per day, just taking off a little bit.

• Sessions should be short.
• Quit while you are ahead.
• Train no more than 5 minutes per session and several sessions per day.


Linda Caplan is/was a trainer, professional handler and Weimaraner breeder and has been in the dog fancy for 28 years. Sandy Tuniewicz is a technical writer, Pet Consultant, and the recipient of the 2005 Ulti-Mutt Sales award and the 2005 Dream Team Leader award from Shure Pets, the premier direct seller of pet products.  

(March 2013 update: Sandy's site is no longer available, or has moved...February 2017 update: I found Linda online and have linked her name to a site that shared information about her.)

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