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How to Clip Dog Nails


clipping dog nails

If you have a dog, you must learn how to keep his nails trimmed, clean and healthy. While your groomer can clip your dog’s nails for you when your dog pays them a visit, this unfortunately is not often enough for the average dog. It may seem like a bit much, but weekly nail trimmings can keep your dog’s toenails in top shape while keeping stress at an absolute minimum. Conditioning this activity along with repetition makes nail trimming easy and routine.

The Right Tools

Before you being cutting your dog’s nails, you need the right tools to get the job done. Don’t buy the first and most inexpensive pair of nail trimmers you come across at the pet store. Usually, the cheaper the tool the more unreliable it is for a good cut. You want a straight, clean cut on each nail, and you can only get this with quality tools.

The most popular and easiest nail clipper to use is the guillotine style. These clippers have a handle similar to scissors with an area for you to place your dog’s nail into. Squeeze the handles and sharp, sturdy black will literally chop the nail. You now have a freshly cut nail with no jagged edges! Another tool you can consider is the grinder. Most rotary tools marketed at pet stores are low quality and simply don’t work for dogs. If you want to grind your dog’s nails instead of clipping them, invest in a groomer’s quality rotary such as the Dremel pet nail grinders found at grooming supply stores and online.

How to Clip Dog Nails

Nail Clipping and Relaxation

Your dog can be relaxed and have his nails done at the same time! As surprising as it may sound, having your dog lay on his back in complete relaxation and comfort while you trim his nails is far easier than you may think. Start by sitting on the floor or even on your own bed. Ask your dog to get into the down position in front of your. If you have a small or medium sized dog, sit with your legs out in front of you and let your dog lay between them so he feels more secure. Offer him a belly rub, and give him a reward when he lies on his back. Help him relax by gently rubbing his belly, chest and occasionally handling his paws. Every time you handle his toes, reward him with a small treat or more belly rubs.

Now, you can begin on his toes. With your dog totally relaxed, he won’t be so worried about what you’re doing with his feet. Incorporate this little session at least once a week, snipping off the tip of each nail and rewarding your dog after each nail with a gentle belly rub. Not only are you getting some of his grooming out of the way, but you also have the chance to asses his skin and pad health more closely. You can check for cracked and sore paw pads or any marks, lumps, bumps or skin tags you may otherwise never see.

How to Clip Dog Nails

Nail Clipping and Trust

These little exercise and grooming sessions in which your dog can lay on his back in absolute comfort and relaxation means that a deeper trust is forming! This can carry on to other aspects of your lives together including bathing, ear cleaning, tooth brushing and even vet visits!

Stay consistent, and if at any time your dog becomes upset or uncomfortable take a small step back and help him get back into the zone of comfort through belly rubs and low value food rewards, such as a piece of kibble. Your attitude will directly reflect onto your pooch during this time, so stay positive and relaxed yourself to set a good example. Your dog’s toes will be more comfortable, his nails healthier and his trust more reliable with gentle and consistent nail clipping!

Resources and Photo Credits: Rob Blatt under the Creative Commons License.

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