10 Tips on Clipping Your Dog’s Nails When They’re Scared!

by Reena Bakir
cutting your dog's nails

For many dog owners, clipping your dog’s nails can be quite the hassle! Your dog isn’t the only canine who fears getting your nails clipped, many pets will become agitated and anxious from the ordeal, and even go hiding at the mere sight of a clipper.

It is essential to routinely keep your dog’s nails trimmed, as it not only keeps them clean but it stops them from growing out and causing discomfort and pain to your pet. However, since this fear of clippers rarely goes away on its own and can in fact increase in intensity over time, you must slowly adjust your dog to being relaxed and comfortable when you are clipping their nails.

Here at 10 tips on how to clipping your dog’s nails when they’re scared to make the experience easier for both you and them!

1. Get your dog’s paws accustomed to being handled

Paws are very sensitive areas for many dogs, and therefore most canines are not used to being handled and touched in that area. Before you decide to engage in clipping your dog’s nails, you should work on getting them accustomed to being touched on their paws. This can be done when your dog is already relaxed and in a pleasant state. Pairing this with treats or positive reinforcement will change how your dog reacts to their paws and toes being touched.

2. Remove the fear of the clipper

clipping your dog's nails

Often, dogs can become fearful from the mere sight of a clipper – usually do to past experience that has ingrained it as a negative object. Getting your dog used to seeing the clipper in a normal and casual sense is important. Keep it in sight and even hold it at times while positively reinforcing your dog with food or playtime. Once your dog attaches positive experience to the clipper, you can begin gentle touching it on and around your dog’s paws.

3. Choose a relaxed time

Make sure your dog is feeling calm and relaxed before attempting to clip their nails. This can be done by doing it well after your dog has exerted their energy in playtime and are now ready to rest and fall asleep.

4. Bathe your dog first

Coordinating nail clipping with bath-time will make it easier for both of you. For one, bathing your pet first will make their nails softer and easier to cut through without exerting too much force. Moreover, the massaging motions of giving your dog a bath will most likely relax them and put them at ease.

5. Handle your dog with care

clipping your dog's nails

If your dog is already scared, the worst thing you could do is try to hold them down or handle them in a way that seems overbearing and aggressive. Try to clip your dog’s nails when they are sitting in a calm position or even lying down ready for a nap. Do not attempt to hold your dog’s legs down as this will only increase their fear.

6. Don’t be pushy

The biggest mistake many dog owners do when trying to clip their dog’s nails is continuing to push on after the dog has displayed signs of fear and anxiety. This will only enforce more fear and discomfort for your dog regarding this experience.

7. Practice patience

Understand that it takes time for your dog to overcome their fears. Patience is key to building trust and establishing a comfortable state. Start slow, by cutting one or two nails, and stop when your pet exhibits signs of fear. Over time, it will become easier for your dog to relax around the clipper.

8. Rewards, rewards, rewards

clipping your dog's nails

Rewarding your dog every time you manage to clip their nails will create a positive experience in their minds, and will motivate them to allow you to clip their nails more often.

9. Comfort objects

Some dogs have specific comfort objects in the form of blankets, toys etc that they associate with happiness and ease. Having these objects around your dog while getting their nails clipped will ensure that they feel more at ease.

10. Do it yourself

Unless your dog is very comfortable to a specific groomer or vet, it is advised to clip your dog’s nails yourself in the comfort of your own home – especially if your dog is already fearful of the situation at hand. Taking your dog to a clinic or a groomer may increase their anxiety due to being handled by a stranger.

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