tan chihuahua lying on a white couch

The Chill Paws Guide to Successful Dog Nail Trims

Necessary for proper health and hygiene, trimming your dog’s nails is an essential part of their grooming routine. Though you can choose to head to a professional groomer, you can also perform the task from the comfort of your home. We know that nail trimming can be anxiety-inducing for both you and your dog, especially if your dog is terrified of getting their nails clipped. However, there are helpful tips and tricks to desensitizing your dog to nail clipping. Chill Paws has your complete guide to successful nail trims to make grooming a breeze, from how to trim nails to how to calm a dog for grooming.

When Do I Trim?

A good rule of thumb for figuring out when to trim your dog’s nails is when you can hear their nails clicking on the floor. Though time between trims varies depending on the dog, most dogs will likely need a trim monthly. 

Get Your Dog Comfortable

Are you wondering how to calm a dog for grooming, and why they’re so uncomfortable with the grooming? Dogs can dislike or often be uncomfortable with parts of their body being touched, such as their paws. Their opposition to their paws being touched makes it that much harder to trim their nails when the time comes. 

Prior to trimming, your dog should be used to having their paws touched. Get them acclimated to the sensation by touching or holding their paws more often. The repetitive act will be helpful for desensitizing your dog to nail clipping. Also, try giving them a treat and/or praise each time you handle their paws to reinforce calm behavior. 

Choose the Right Tools

a dog getting their nails trimmed by blue and red clippers

Nail trims can be done with a pair of clippers or with a grinder. It’s all a matter of personal (and dog) preference and the quality of the tool. The tool you use can be the answer to desensitizing your dog to nail clipping. Just make sure your clippers are the appropriate size for your dog and that they’re sharp. Dull clippers will pinch the nail and hurt your dog.

Grinders are another great tool that you can use to trim your dog’s nails quickly and easily. Some dogs may prefer the grinder for comfort due to less pulling on their nails. Others might be scared by the physical sensation of the grinder or its noise, which might be contributors to your dog being terrified of getting their nails clipped. 

When figuring out how to calm a dog for grooming, start by letting your dog sniff the trimmers. You want them to be acquainted with the tool you’ll be using. A trick to desensitizing your dog to nail clipping is the use of treats with the trimmers. Show the trimmers again, and give them a treat. If you’re using a grinding tool, turn it on and off to familiarize them with the sounds it makes, then give them a treat. You can also place a treat on top of the tool you’ll be using to trim their nails to associate positive experiences with trimming.

Know the Process

For a successful nail trimming, you’ll need to know where and how to trim. When trimming, make sure you hold your dog’s paw firmly but gently. You don’t want to squeeze their paw! The key to desensitizing your dog to nail clipping is ensuring their comfort. Holding your dog’s paw, you’ll want to identify their quick. Located inside a dog’s nail, the quick is a soft cuticle that contains blood vessels and nerves. If your dog has clear/white nails, the quick will look pink. If your dog has dark nails, it’s a little trickier to find. You’ll need to look at the underside of their nails. You can safely trim the tunnel part of a dark/black nail. Stop if/when you see a gray or white bulb—that’s the quick. 

If you accidentally nick the quick, don’t panic! Have some styptic powder or cornstarch to help quickly staunch the bleeding and give them a treat for being good. 

Trim After a Bath

A tip for desensitizing your dog to nail clipping is to try trimming their nails after a bath. The warm water from a bath will moisten and soften their nails, making it easier to cut them. In addition to preventing cracking or splintering of the nails, a post-bath trim increases the accessibility of the nails. If your dog has longer hair, you’ll be able to easily move their hair out of the way to get to the nails.

Take it Slow

Cutting your dog's nails can be difficult. To help with desensitizing your dog to nail clipping, try taking it slow. Clip nails little by little or slowly grind the nails and continuously pause to look at the progress on the nail. Going slowly will help you avoid getting the quick. If your dog is terrified of getting their nails clipped, you could also try just trimming the nails on one paw each day until they’re all done. 

Use Positive Reinforcement

Using positive reinforcement, such as treats and praise, are also useful in desensitizing your dog to nail clipping. Give them a treat for getting their nails trimmed. Another option is to let them chew or lick a treat like peanut butter while you do their nails to distract them from the grooming.

Try CBD 

Nail trimming can be a grooming experience that’s filled with anxiety. If you’re looking for how to calm a dog for grooming and nail clipping, CBD products are a great option. CBD can be useful in helping your dog relax, especially if they experience significant stress or anxiety around nail trimming day. 

You can incorporate CBD into your dog’s normal routine, too. Chill Paws offers CBD oil and treats perfect for your dog. Use the oil alone or add it to a treat or food to keep them calm on grooming day! 

Your Steps to Desensitizing Your Dog to Nail Clipping

Nail trimming is one of the most crucial parts of a grooming routine and also the one that can be the most anxiety-inducing. However, it must be done to prevent health issues in your dog. Trimming your dog’s nails is often difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right tips and tricks for desensitizing your dog to nail clipping, you and your dog will get through your grooming day in no time. 

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