I don’t know exactly what dogs are thinking, but as a veterinary technician I’m pretty sure they’re convinced I’m going to take their entire toe off – not just part of a toenail! If there is one thing the veterinary community would love dogs to be worked with, it would definitely be getting their nails trimmed. So what can you, as a pet owner, do to help us out with that nail trim? Let’s take a look at some things you can do at home to help out.
Desensitizing with Handshakes
Shaking hands isn’t just for meeting other people, it’s also a very useful way to desensitize your pet to people messing with their paws. Learning the trick may take some time but it’s more than worth it.
A couple of tips to keep in mind when working on this trick:
- It is not a high five. Just as it would be rude to go to shake someone’s hand and then barely touch them, we also don’t want a wimpy handshake; we want a strong, firm handshake.
- Work on both paws. We want our pets to work toward being ambidextrous!
Manicures for Dogs?!
Okay you don’t necessarily have to paint your dog’s nails to have them be well behaved. However, I love to play pretend manicure with all my dogs. It’s very simple – just hold and inspect each toe of your pet just as if you were working on each individual one. Feel free to grab some pet friendly nail polish if needed to get the full effect!
Now go grab the nail trimmers. Before you get scared or apprehensive, remember this article is about helping the people out who are trimming your dog’s nails – not about teaching you to do it yourself. So I know you aren’t going to trim your dog’s nails, you know you aren’t going to trim your dog’s nails, but your dog has no clue.
Remember this little fact, especially if your dog tends to be aggressive with nail trims. For those dogs who may bite, this step is probably best left to the professionals. For everyone else, pretend you are about to cut the nails. Calmly click the nail trimmers together, starting out just near the dog, working closer and closer to the toes. You would be surprised at how many dogs just have an issue with the sound of the trimmers rather than the actual nail trimming itself.
If you try this step, be absolutely sure to not cut the dog. While training, it is important to set the dog up for success, and if you were to cut or quick the dog it could do more damage than good. So it’s best to just pretend for now.
My last piece of advice is to pick up each foot and look at the bottom of it. Yes, this will feel weird to your pet and he or she will probably be wondering what is so interesting about the bottom of their feet, but this is incredibly useful. Some times, to trim a nail just right we have to hold paws in some very weird ways.
Hopefully this home work will help with future nail trim visits to your veterinarian, and make the process less stressful for you, your pet and your vet!