The following is a guest post from veterinary nurse Ellen Herrlin.
Many owners think that clipping dog’s nails is an unpleasant and difficult task. Dogs can become stressed, difficult to handle and may even bite to get away. So here are some tips to show how easy it can be with some exercise, patience and good treats.
Bosse is my dog whom I have had since he was 9 weeks of age. He is now 15 months old. From the age of 9 weeks I have offered him treats as I clip his claws on a table. If he tried to get up, from his position laid on the table, I was determined that Bosse would remain still and calm. For this I reward him with warm sounds of praise and also offer him treats as soon as he relaxes. Before letting him get up I’m sure to stroke him all over his body and speak warmly to him. This teaches the dog that it pays to relax on the table and that no harm will happen. Although the clipping may seem unpleasant to the dog, it can be a pleasant experience for the dog.
Since then, I have taught him an appropriate command that instructs him to lay down on his side. When he understood it, I increased the time he would remain and then I introduced management while he remained. It certainly requires a lot of time and a lot of effort, but it is SO worth it! It’s also useful in many situations, such as seeing the vet.
Inside the claw there is blood-rich tissue that also contains nerve endings. This tissue is called the pulp and appears as a pink strip in transparent claws. If your dog has black claws you can use a flashlight to see where the pulp is, that way you can determine how much claw you can cut before you get started. The claw covering the pulp is made of the same material as our nails – Keratin. It is not painful to trim the claws, but if you hit the pulp it may hurt and bleed. Of course you should avoid this, but if you do hit the pulp it’s definitely not the end of the world.
Owners often tell me how they once hit the pulp and then couldn’t ever cut the claws on their dog again. What often happens is that owners see the blood trickling and hears their dog whining in discomfort. Subsequently, the dog senses the owner’s anxiety and this in turn aggravates the situation and confirms to the dog that this was an unpleasant experience that it does not want to go through again.
Cutting the pulp can happen, and if it does the important thing is to not get upset. If possible, pretend that nothing has happened and reward your dog when it relaxes. Don’t give it any treats if it is stressed and anxious.
Feel and squeeze the paws and maybe try to cut one more claw before releasing the dog. If the dog has already forgot the pain of the pulp, you can continue with the rest of the claws before releasing the dog.
Ensure you have sharp, proper claw scissors on hand, as well as the all-important treats, in the place where you intend to trim your dog’s nails. Once you have your dog in place, get it to lie down or sit if it prefers that. Get help, if you need it, to keep your dog in place and then it is time to start. If you’re afraid that you’ll hit the pulp and that it will start bleeding, you can buy something called Blood Stoppers at the pet store or at your vet’s. It comes in either a powder or spray form and can be applied to the bleeding pulp to help the blood to clot.
After that, just take one claw at a time and cut only what’s needed. Also be sure to only cut a bit at a time, not all at once. Don’t forget to occasionally reward your dog and speak warmly and calmly with it.
The claws on the hind legs wear naturally when the dog is running and they are usually shorter, which is good to keep in mind so you do not cut too much. If you have a very active dog then maybe they do not have to be cut at all.
When you’re done, you’ll be pleased with yourself and proud of how well-behaved your dog will have been! Remember to reward your dog while it is still down and patch and massage all over its body before you release it.
I hope you learned something new and I hope that these tips will give you a little more confidence for the next trim. Keep calm and be patient and you’ll soon be pleased and proud of the results.
Ellen is a veterinary nurse who also runs a fantastic blog which is full of great advice for pet owners. You can find it here: http://nursedolittle.se/. If you like what you read don’t forget to share this article and subscribe for more!