Many dogs share a fear of getting their nails trimmed. At TCAP, we do everything we can to help service the pets in our care; however, due to the prevalence of this underlying anxiety in most dogs, we are unable to provide this service during extremely busy vaccine clinics or for pets that risk harming themselves/ others when receiving a nail trim. To help address this issue, we have collected some advice on how to acclimate your puppy to the idea of nail trims to make their trips to the vet or groomer smoother and improve their overall health.
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Why Nail Trim?
To understand why nail trimming is important, we must first look at how untrimmed nails may affect a dog. Extremely active dogs typically do not need nail trims, especially if they are spending a fair amount of their active time on concrete or similar hard/ rough surfaces that passively file the dogs’ nails. Indoor or inactive dogs tend to need relatively frequent nail trims. Long nails are harmful for two reasons: First, walking with long nails is painful, especially on hard surfaces that force the nail back into the nailbed or cause the toes to twist to painful angles. Secondly, and more importantly, if your dog’s are left untrimmed, it will affect your pet’s posture and result in arthritis as your pet ages.
Reducing Your Dog’s Anxiety
The first step starts at home. Long before the nail trimmers come out you need to get your puppy used to having his feet handled when petting him or playing with him. The more you can associate having his paws handled with a positive experience, the better. If he does not initially respond well to having his feet handled, you will need to gradually work to it by instead petting his shoulders, then moving to his legs, then touching the top of his feet and eventually moving to holding his paw. You can sprinkle these steps intermittently throughout play sessions, baths, training, or by simply petting those areas and giving treats to distract him. By the end, your puppy should be comfortable with you holding his paws.
The next step comes with introducing your dog to nail trims early on. The first few times should be slow. Visualize the scenario before attempting it. You may even have to take a break part way through nail trimming (after every paw or even every nail) to do a more enjoyable activity or give your pet a treat if your pet begins to get anxious. Once he is calm, you may return to the task. Repeat this process until you have done all four paws.
Do not panic if your puppy becomes stressed. The best way to help your pet feel safe is to remain calm, patient and assertive throughout the process. Your ultimate goal is get your pet to associate having his feet handled and his nails trimmed with a positive feeling so take your time, distract him, but keep returning to handling his feet and eventually trimming his nails.
If these steps are not taken during your average puppy’s development, he may come to be defensive or even fearful about having his feet touched, especially if it only happens when he is getting his nails trimmed. However, if you take these steps at home, it will make his trips to the groomer and to TCAP much more enjoyable for both him and you. To get your dog nail trims, microchipping, vaccines or other wellness services, you can visit a TCAP location during our walk-in vaccine hours. Please note, dogs coming to TCAP for nail trims must be current on their rabies vaccine (vaccinated at least 7 days prior). We look forward to seeing you soon!
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