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Trim those Nails

It's that time again! you can hear the clicking of nails on your floors as your dog scampers around.

What do you do? Neither you or your dog find nail trimming a delightful experience.

Things you need:

- Nail cutters

- Kwick stop or styptic powder is best, though you can use corn starch if you're in a pinch.

- Treats are always good, especially when getting them accustomed to nail trimming.

Find a quiet comfortable spot with no distractions, it's best to choose a time when your dog is the most relaxed, such as after their nap from a long walk.

Place your dog in a sit, stand or a down, whichever is most comfortable for you and your dog. Stand is the easiest when you have two people. One person holds the collar and lightly scratches their belly. This keeps them stable and happy, allowing you to focus on clipping their nails.

Hold their paws in a way that is comfortable for your dog. Raising legs too high or too far out from their body makes them feel stretched and unstable.

Now for the fun part, clipping! But how much do you take off?

If you look at the shape of the nail, the base is round and thick and starts to thin and turn into a hook shape at the tip.

When looking at the underside of the nail, you will notice that the base has a fleshy filling, that's their quick, then the nail hollows out towards the tip.

Typically where the hook shape begins and the fleshy part under the nail ends, are the same location. This is the ideal place to trim the nail. Right before the quick.

If you are unsure, start with little cuts, taking a bit off at a time.

If where your cut is crumbling and chalky, you can cut some more. You will see a small dark moist circle in the middle of the nail signalling you that it's time to stop cutting, you are right before the quick and are as short as you can go.

It's best to get your dog used to nail trims if they aren't a huge fan of the experience, it's important for their health! When nails are too long they can cause pain and can lead to arthritis.

Start by practising daily, picking up a paw, holding the toes and adding pressure.

Praising them when they have settled and giving them a treat as a reward.

Then add in the clippers, hold them close to their toes, mock the nail trim process (opening and closing the clippers, touching it to their nails). Praise when they settle and offer a treat.

In the beginning, you may find working on all 4 paws is a bit too much for them, breaking the work up into individual sessions throughout the day and week by doing one paw at a time. Working towards the goal of clipping all 4 paws in one session.

Oh no! you hit the quick.

Don't panic. Though we all want to avoid this, it can happen to even the most experienced groomers. Have your styptic powder ready when trimming nails.

Stay calm, dogs pick up on your energy and will become more upset.

Hold the affected nail with one hand and with your free hand press a dusting of the styptic powder on your finger. Clear the excess blood away and then press and hold pressure for a few seconds to apply the powder on the nail. Check to see if the bleeding has stopped and apply more styptic powder if you need to.


Calm praise lets them know they are doing great without getting them too excited. Once you're done the session, have a big praise party and go play to celebrate!


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