I have a large black lab that is a great pet. He is a good dog but won't let you handle his paws. I've tried to ease into the job and I've tried to flat out hold him, he just does not like his paws handled. Any tips on how I can trim his nails?
There are a few dogs that absolutely need to be sedated, but most dogs can be done with the right kind of restraint. You need at least one, preferably two other people to help you hold while you trim. I usually have the best luck with "bad" dogs if we lay the dog on his side and have one person hold the front legs/head and another person controlling the back end. Make sure your holders are holding onto the "down" legs well-if the dog gets those legs under him then you've lost your restraint. Trim as fast as you can without hurting the dog. I'd err on the side of trimming too little rather than too much for the first couple of sessions. Some dogs will also respond better if you use a dremel instead of trimmers. Never let the dog win or he will struggle all the harder the next time.
I have had a horrific time clipping nails with our puppy (now 11 mos), a border collie, blue heeler, black lab mix. Holding makes her wild, and her toes are apparently off limits.
I have started "tricking" her into thinking that cutting a nail is a part of the routine, like getting dinner, a treat or being let in/out. Everytime she gets something she gets a nail trimmed. I ask her if she wants a cookie, she gets excited and waits by the cupboard and I have her clippers ready. In between her arriving and my getting the treat for her I unceremoniously (and that is the important part) grab a paw and quickly (another important part) clip one nail. Same with dinner, getting let out, etc.
The trick is to have the clippers at hand, to slip in and cut a nail (only one nail!) before they have a chance to notice, and to completely not acknowledge that you cut one of their nails. The first few times I tried it she was surprised that it was over and didn't hurt, reminding me of a kid getting a booster.
You can't expect to get them all trimmed nice all at the same time, but a little every day or two keeps them in the same or better shape overall.
Already she is better al letting me play with her toes. Puting the cart before the horse, maybe, but whatever works, works i say.
1)have the dog stand in some warm, mildy soapy water for a bit-- this softens the nails--
2) have someone hold the dog firmly just behind the head, so it cannot turn and bite.
3) using a pair of nail cutters that can cut like scissors ( I use hoof rot shears, myself) you can trim in one of two ways--
a: Pick up each foot the way a farrier would a horse's hoof, and trim in the conventional 'pattern'- from underneath
b: Angle the trimmer 90 degrees perpendicular to the ground, and make the cut from the top of the nail as the dog's foot is placed firmly on the ground-- you hold it there with one hand while trimming with the other.
If the nail is too curled for this, then angle the trimmer closer to the ground with the angle opening to the FRONT of the dog
The second method gives a rather unusual look to the nail, but it helps the nail 'shorten up' in a natural manner. The quick recedes faster, permitting a shorter trim the next time around.
I once had a dog that refused nail work-- it always took three peole to hold her down-- I told her if she didn't comply, I would have the vet cut off the nails-- well, I had her spayed-- and the vet took back the nails-- severely, but not severely enough to suit me--( the dog had pressure bandages on her feet) When I approached with nail clippers the next time, The dog actually offered her paws!!!!
Desensitizing the dog to having it's feet handled can be a long process-- but if you encourage the dog to allow the paws to be held, squeezed, fussed with-- things get a lot easier...
Sometimes this method works when others are a fight:
Have the dog standing, either tied short, or eating lunch, next to a wall or fence, and do it like the horseshoer does.
Pick up each leg, flexed to expose the bottom pads of the paw-just like you'd do a horse's hoof position.
The toenails from underneith are so EASY to see just where to whack off the excess.
And a dog conditioned to fight from more typical positions, would have to "paws" and plan his struggle from this surprise, new position. It's easy for the dog to hold position, and easy for you to whack and hold the dog still against the wall or fence beside it.
Works for me with the Filas-but they are very brave dogs, and submit to all sorts of "torture" and take it because I tell them we'll "fix" it.
Give your dog a whole new word for doing his nails. I use the word "whack"-and they just let me.
When we adopted our Rottweiler ages ago (both the "we" and the dog are years in the past), he was 1 1/2 years old and untrained but friendly. He was also terrified of having his nails clipped. After 2 trips to the vet for this, where he got tied up and screamed like a dying horse throughout the process (plain panic, no pain), I started working with him to make it an easier job.
During play and petting sessions, I handled his feet a lot... stroking and squeezing a little and flicking my nails against his, working up to rubbing the skin between the toes and holding the paw for a short time without letting go, etc.
When he could handle that as "normal", I brought out the clippers, waited through his initial mild panic at the sight of the things, and incorporated them into the petting/playing. Stroke a foot with the clippers, click the metal against the nails, poke a little with them under the pad and toes, put them away again. Follow up with "OMG, whattaya know, you didn't die! What happened?" (it's not advisable to make a fuss of any kind, but I couldn't resist to rub it in a little. He was dense enough to not "get it", so it was ok) and a cookie
After a bunch of sessions like that, I went to holding a paw and acting as if I was clipping a nail. At this time came also the authority spiel, as in, "when I handle you, you must hold still and let me do it". All of the previous steps involved him lying down on his side. Now we worked on his rolling over on his back with his feet up. It went nicely with the authority bit.
Next, the clipping of claws. One claw per session, one cookie treat, done. After a week, 2 claws per session, one cookie per claw, done. Another week later, three claws per - you get the idea. Over the weeks, we got to one cookie per paw, and later to one cookie for all four paws (equaling one session).
It may sound like a terrible waste of time if you can just as easily manhandle a dog into submission for claw-clipping, but chances are that a manhandled dog won't flop over and stick his feet up for you for the next 10 years or so whenever you so much as click the clippers
Thanks for all the replies so far. I'll probably just take it slow, lots of playing, and give rewards. The horse trimmer position is also an interesting idea to try, he doesn't seem to mind it as bad as approaching from the front.
try not to pull the dogs feet out of their normal motion range. ive noticed that when trimming hooves or paws that i get to concentrating on the cutting and not that i am actually causing them discomfort by pulling them leg way away from their body.
i agree with the lots of praise and goodies when doing it.
I have hairy dogs and when doing nails or trimming hair from beneath the feet and between the toes I've noticed they respond a lot better if you don't actually hold the foot. Hold the ankle or fetlock joint or just below it. Don't pull on the leg. Also, I wait until the end of the day when everyone is sleeping off their evening run. Most of them don't even wake up. If the dog really likes treats you can have someone feed them small treats as a distraction while you do a couple nails.
My ideas from grooming dogs for more than 30 years... keep the restraint as light as possible, often it is the restraint a dog hates more than the nail trim. Make sure the dog is in a comfortable position (if possible). Work quickly and confidently - wussing out upsets the dog. I do them with the dog off the floor on a grooming table - they tend to be aware of being out of their territory and it helps to keep them still. I often use the "farrier" position, or, if the dog is moving, I might just take the tip off the moving foot (I do it by feel anymore - when you slide the nippers down the nail, they will catch when they hit the change of texture where the quick ends, so I keep the nippers on the nail even if the dog moves.) If I do get a quick and sometimes I do, I am very matter of fact and calm about it. When people get upset that they've caused their dog to bleed it upsets the dog more too. If you just say calmly, "Oh you poor dear, let me see." and pick up the foot and put the quick stop on it and go on, they seem to think... oh, that wasn't a big deal.
Some dogs have been mishandled for years and are hard to do. I will muzzle a biting dog and I will trim the nails with the dog as loosely held as possible, even if it is flopping about on my table, it really does calm them down. I try to save being "firm" for the dog fighting the muzzle and calm restraint for them fighting having their legs handled. I do work up to the feet of a nervous, fearful or "rank" dog. I'll take the leg higher up and just let them wiggle without putting pressure on them, when they "give" me a bit, I release it, do something else, then come back and and ask a bit more.
I've done a lot of dogs with very few problems over the years. It's hard to even know what I do - body language? tone of voice? timing of very small corrections and rewards (tightening a hand, releasing pressure)? Very calm attitude on my part? A good chewing out (rarely) when the dog is just disobedient, then we are good buddies again? I wish I could explain it better, I've worked with animals my whole life and bred, showed, trained and groomed dogs for many years now.
I think you are on the right track to play with the dog, get it less sensitized to having it's feet handled, then nip/treat/release for a nail at a time for a bit.
When I do them, I do them very fast, I try to get done before the dog has much of a chance to get worked up. That works well in the middle of a grooming session, either right before or right after the bath. I'm working on other things, the dog has had it's feet handled to have the pads clipped or the leg brushed and I just pick up the foot and snip the nails off and its done. I do definitely treat training the dog to accept restraint as a separate issue from toe nail trimming. I think that is important. If the dog will allow restraint of it's leg and foot, you have the battle won before you pick up the nippers! Then be calm, be confident and relaxed and you are fine.
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