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  • Courteous K9

The Importance of Nail Trims

Updated: Apr 11

Keeping your dogs nails short is one of the two easiest ways to prevent injury in your dog (the other is keeping their weight nice and trim). Another benefit of keeping your dogs nails short is that they are less likely to get snagged on something and get ripped off. Long nails can be painful to walk around with, so keeping them short also prevents unnecessary pain. 

Ideally, a dog's nails should be trimmed weekly or biweekly to prevent the quick from growing too long! If the quick becomes too long then we can not trim their nails as short. If your dog has long nails, it can alter how they walk on their feet which dramatically increases the risk of injury. 

Since we should be trimming our dogs' nails every week or two, we should teach our dogs to be okay with the nail trimming process! A mistake many people make when they are working on their dogs nail trims is letting go of the dogs paw if/when the dog pulls it away. Try to avoid doing this as you are reinforcing the dog for resisting the nail trim. This can create a dog that has a larger emotional response to the nail trim process, inevitably making it more stressful for both you and the dog! 

Instead, it is important to do your best to hold their paw and not let go until they are calm. When they are calm, you can let go of their paw and reward them. If your dog is trying to pull away from you too much, you can hold their collar so they cannot pull away. This puts less pressure on their leg/foot, and helps them calm down faster. This process will teach them when they do not want to do something, if they relax, what they do not want to do will end or they will be rewarded. This will make nail trims easier and less stressful for both parties in the future! When your dog is calm for the nail trim process, you are much less likely to quick them, which is painful and causes them to bleed. 

If you think your dog may bite you during this process, it is important to condition them to a muzzle. We don't want them learning that using their teeth gets them out of doing what they don't want to do. 

How to Trim Nails:

If your dog has white nails, you should be able to look through the nail and see the pink part. That is the quick, do not cut into that part, cut before it. If your dog has dark colored nails, I look for what I call the "bullseye". As you cut off very slim pieces of nail on a dark claw you'll begin to see a white/gray soft part of the nail, as you continue taking off little shavings at a time, you'll see a shiny dark spot in the middle, that's when you're getting close to the quick - stop there. See image below. If you want a more detailed how-to desensitize your dog to nail trims, look at our online Foundations 2 class. 

Nail Trim Guide

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