It is not too late to begin training your dog to get their nails trimmed. You can make this experience a positive one. Nail trims should be done in the position that is best for your dog, whether they are sitting, standing, or lying down. Choose a location where your dog is most comfortable such as on your lap. Consider lateral recumbency for toenail trims as noted above in the video guide.
Your dog will not have the patience for all their nails to be trimmed during the first few training sessions, so start this process when they are not urgently needing a nail trim. Each training session should be kept to less than two minutes. Frequent, short training sessions are better than long sessions.
- When your dog is in their comfortable place, practice touching the top of their foot and then feeding a treat. Alternatively, you could place a snack of wet food or treats in front of them during this process (lick mat/distraction mat). Practice this several times, giving your dog a treat after each foot touch. Each foot should be touched separately.
- If your dog displays signs of stress or gets up to leave, stop the training and just play. The next session, remember to stay under your dog’s threshold of stress to keep this a positive experience.
- Practice handling each foot lightly, then feeding a treat. You may only be able to touch the foot but not pick it up the first few times. Gradually, practice until you can handle each of your dog’s feet and toes. Isolate each toe individually and practice inspecting the area where you will trim the nail. Remember to treat after every nail examination.
- When your dog is comfortable allowing you to isolate a toenail, try trimming one nail. Treat immediately after trimming it and then stop the session. Engage your dog in something rewarding like play or a petting session. Eventually, your dog will tolerate having multiple nails trimmed during the same session, but it will take time and practice to get there.
- When trimming the toenail make sure to trim only the tip and not to trim into the quick (blood supply). Use the photo below to help see how to trim without hitting the quick.