The Dreaded Doggy Clippers...
The Saga Continues
Doggy Nail Care - Dremel vs. Clippers: How to cut your dogs nails, and why.
Ziva has always hated having her feet touched ever since we first adopted her over a year ago.
Touching her paws would result in shaking, trembling, nervous panting, and "whale eyes".
We've spent this last year working hard to desensitize her using positive training, and LOTS of high value treats. We've hand filed her nails, handled her feet constantly, exercised her before working on her feet, and even painted her toes regularly to get her used to having her paws handled.
Being that we do a lot of outdoor activities and agility, her nails need to be cut for her safety. She's broken one in the past and we'd like to avoid repeating that experience if we can.
|Our sad puppy with her broken nail.|
|Back when she broke her nail. This was it healing nicely.|
We eventually worked her into allowing us to use a dremel.
Usually our setup would require two people, hubby would dremel Ziva's nails while I held her in my lap feeding her treats and attempting to keep her relaxed. If things got too scary we'd take a break. But this seemed to be working.
|Relaxing while daddy does her nails.|
Well, for whatever reason something was different last time and she panicked, total flash back, the poor girl freaked out. We only managed to finish one foot using a dremel and had to stop. We knew that if we pushed the issue we'd only end up damaging her trust and further cementing that fear in her head.
Feeling hopeless, we considered just quitting. For fear of being accidentally bitten due to panic, maybe we should take her to the vet and have her sedated once a month to get her nails done.
We talked about it...but didn't like the idea of sedation. But the reality is we needed a better solution. This should ideally be a one person job, and we had hoped that by now she would trust us more with her feet. Honestly no one else would be able to handle her feet without having her sedated.
After a couple days we decided to start over. So I researched nail files and found a nice glass file, and came up with a game plan.
We need new associations.
She can't think we're going to do her nails.
Sounds easy right?
First off, when it arrived this file is supposed to be used wet. So I took Ziva outside, nail file and tennis ball in hand. Dipped the file in the water, introduced her visually to the file, let her lick the water off, and rewarded her by tossing the ball.
Turns out she loved licking the silly file!
Next step, ask for "shake" a trick she knows and is comfortable with, tap her nails with the file, reward by throwing the ball.
Turns out she didn't mind the tapping, since the file was wet she enjoyed licking it while I tapped on her toes. She was a little flinchy at first but quickly relaxed because tapping meant I would throw the ball - her ultimate high value treat.
Next step, I gently held her paw and applied gentle pressure to hold a nail while beginning to file.
Any attempt on her behalf to escape I would allow and then throw the ball. As that got easier I began to ask her to let me file for a little bit longer in order to earn her reward.
Well baby steps seem to be working!
Our first session took two days to do all her nails, mostly because I didn't want to push my luck.
Our second session we finished in a day! And I managed to paint her nails. All by myself, no helper needed!
For some dogs relaxation therapy is a great place to start, but that didn't work for Ziva.
For dogs that are terrified of having their nails worked on, just remember to be patient, be creative, if you get frustrated or if your pup gets upset - stop and take a break. Figure out what works for you, if you can only accomplish one nail a day just remember to rejoice in those small successes.
If your dog works for a toy or treat, try shaping him/her into tolerating you messing with his paws like we did.
*I have considered teaching her to scratch a surface to essentially file her own nails, but I like being able to control the length, and remove sharp edges.*
Dante is our easy child, usually Dz Dog dad or myself just takes a few min to cut his nails. But this time I decided to infuse some fun in for him as well.
Every nail cut equaled me playing tug with him, this was also great practice for him to "release" his toy and be able to consistently get super excited, and then quickly calm again for another nail.
How do you guys conquer the dreaded clipper experience?
This month we are joining the Positive Pet Blog Hop hosted by: Cascadian Nomads, Rubicon Days, and Tenacious Little Terrier.