Pawdicure – dog nail trimming – tips from a self taught amateur!

Why groomers are not considered an essential service is beyond me. For those of you suddenly thrust into the role of “dog groomer”, I feel your pain and am sharing 5 pawdicure tips this neophyte nail trimmer has learned while in quarantine.

Obviously, nail trims are really important for your dog’s comfort and health. Many years ago, when Samantha (my heart dog, sadly now gone) FREAKED out when I tried to trim her nails, I realized immediately I wasn’t cut out for that kind of drama. I’ve used groomers and the vet for nail trims ever since. I didn’t even bother to try with Indy and Lucca. That was pre Covid-19 of course. Given that Lucca has wicked dew claws in the back that curve into his pad if not trimmed, I simply can’t ignore the need to trim them.

Let me preface this by saying NO, i will not be wrapping my head in saran wrap and smearing it with peanut butter LOL. Not that I’m above it, but I can’t imagine I would be able to see my dogs’ nails well from that angle. Okay, yes I admit it, I’m above it haha.

First attempt. I tried to use a pair of guillotine clippers but i couldn’t get the right angle. I figured I’d better stop before I created a negative reaction to nail trims. So, I reached out to my groomer Colleen at Dogtown Jordan.

Colleen posted a good primer how to home groom your pets during the self-isolation restrictions. She provides recommendations for the tools you need, as well as links to video tutorials. I found the information really helpful. I ordered a pair of what I call garden pruner style trimmers through Amazon and they arrived in a week. Colleen told me to NOT use the cutting guard because it gives you a false sense of security that you won’t hit the quick. As the quick isn’t in the same place on all dogs, I might make a critical error with the guard.

My goal? To successfully take off the tiniest sliver of nail with the least amount of drama. If I do that weekly I will be helping to keep the boys comfortable, not make them fearful of nail trims and avoid blood shed at all costs [insert nauseous face expression here] and when this is all over I can take the boys to the experts at Dogtown for a proper trim!

5 pawdicure tips I picked up when trimming my dogs’ nails at home:

  1. be UBER patient – similar to  my photo sessions, I always tell pet parents to be calm and patient, it will take as long as it takes! Don’t forget, they feed off our energy (read frustration)
  2.  take it one nail at a time to start to see how slowly you need to progress
  3. give them loads of praise and at least one treat per nail. If you only get one nail done successfully, do another the next day and build your way up, try to end on a good note
  4. take off, like, a micron. You just want to start to make your dog feel more comfortable with you doing the trim – you’re not trying to be a professional groomer.
  5. make it a weekly thing, as you both gain confidence in your ability it will become much easier
  6. bonus tip, have some cornstarch on hand just in case you nick that quick, it will bleed. Pack the nail with the cornstarch and then do something your dog likes, like a walk. Shift gears quickly to something nice for them (and hopefully avoid negative association).

One last thought, if your dog is really leery of you touching his paws, try making a scratch board, there are tons of videos out there on how to train your dog to use it. This looks like a good video to start with in terms of teaching your dog what behaviour you want. This method might only get the front nails, but you’re half way there with this fun way for your dog to do stress-free nail care!

Hope that you found my 5 dog nail trimming tips helpful, I likely won’t be at the front of the line when this is over, because other dogs are in more serious need of full grooming, but I look forward to getting Lucca and Indy’s nails trimmed professionally again soon!