All About Nails

Posted by Sheena Neil on Thursday, October 15, 2015 Under: Nails and Husbandry
Nail trimmings are an essential part of your dogs health. Nails that are too long can change your dogs posture, putting additional strain on their joints. Long nails can also be extremely painful. 

Most dogs do not enjoy having their feet touched. Many dogs require training and patience. Making the process a positive experience will help reduce the stress of nail trims for you and your dog. 

Part 2 can be found here.

The next steps in having successful nail trims is the equipment you choose.
Many people prefer some type of rotary tool. A rotary tool is used to grind the nails down.
There are many types and styles specifically for dog nails. Reviews of these tools are often poor, especially if your dog has hard black nails, as they often lack the power required to grind successfully. 
Another option is to choose an electric rotary tool such as a Dremel. There are a variety of models that are small, easy to use, and cordless. 

Nail clippers are important as well. The style you choose should be sharp. Most can be resharpened at home. 
Scissor style clippers are preferred over guillotine styles. Scissor clippers will put equal pressure around the dogs nail, where as guillotine styles put pressure on one side more than the other and can squish or crack a nail and can be painful or unpleasant for your dog.
My preferred brand of clippers is Millers Forge.

These red handled clippers are perfect for white nails or the nails of small dogs. 

These orange handled clippers are excellent for thick and hard to cut nails.

A major issue we often have with nail trims is knowing how to cut and where to cut.
The following video explains the anatomy of a dogs nail.

In these videos and photos I am using The Alternative Cut Line. More information can be found here.
To see what it looks like to Dremel into the layers check out this video.

Have you tried everything to get your dog comfortable with nail trims? Are you still struggling to make the process as stress-free as possible? 
How about teaching your dog to trim their own nails!!!!!! Dogs pick up on this game very fast and typically grow to love it. It puts them in charge of their own actions and the consequences so it's also great for building confidence in shy or fearful dogs.
Here is Kodiak using the board for the first time. He is naturally very pawsy so and is also very clicker savvy so he caught on in seconds. Some dogs may take a few sessions to get the hang of it.
Here is Symka using the board as well. It's our main method for shortening her nails.
You can see the difference between filing on a flat board versus and angled board here

To see more of our YouTube videos you can visit our Dog Nails playlist here.

Here are a few photos to give you a better idea of what the inside of the nail looks like.

The nail on the left has been Dremelled to remove the new growth. The nail on the right shows how the outside shell of the nail is growing around the centre. 

You can see the light coloured centre of the nail here. The centre is heart shaped and is surrounded by a white/grey layer. This is better explained in the above video of the layers.

Accidents happen to all of us. A few years ago I cut my dogs dew claw too short by accident and it bled A LOT. She wouldn't let me touch her dew claws for 2 years and they grew very long.

It took time and patience for her to let me file them again. Over the course of a year I was able to use a hand file (my preferred file is here) to slowly file the nails back.

If you are looking for a great community to discuss the ins and outs of foot handling, nail trims, equipment reviews, and everything in between then you need to check out the Facebook group Nail Maintenance for Dogs. Members are at various stages in their training process and the File section has a lot of additional resources to help you.

If you are still having problems with nail trims Keystone Training can help. We offer private in-home training, online training, and group classes to help with nail trims and other husbandry and grooming procedures. Contact us for more details.

In : Nails and Husbandry 

Tags: nail trim  stress-free  positive training  force-free 

About Me

Sheena Neil Owner/Trainer Keystone Training