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I am a dog nail clipping person! Rawrrr!

Note: If you don’t want to read my long-winded drivel on nail clipping, I do still urge you to scroll right down and check out the reference links on dog nail clippers, how to use them, how to get a dog to relax during nail clipping and more about the dog’s paws in general. You can ignore this if you don’t have a dog or if you are NOT a dog idiot. ;)

Today is turning out to be a pawsome day! Donna-nonna’s got her nails trimmed!

Just a little bit… … maybe about 1 to 2 millimeters a nail… … and I might have missed out some nails. But I hasten to assure you that it was a big deal…. (ok, it’s a big deal just for us :P) Because… well, we are dog idiots right?

We took Donna to be groomed once and another time just for nail cutting, at two different shops. Her reaction the minute we stepped into both shops were the same — abject tail-tucked-between-legs-trembling-I-am-such-a-poor-thing-please-save-me fear. :(

The first shop, let’s just say I got the impression that the lady was a little fierce for my liking. If the dog is already scared, being fierce will just make it more scared right? But to be fair, she was scolding another dog that was being groomed and not Donna. But still, that just made me uncomfortable.

The second shop was better because the guy behind the counter was  involved with dog rescue activities, so he spent time talking to me and making me feel more confident that they know mongrels. Of course I could see what the two ladies were doing to the nervously grinning, lip-licking dog behind the glass and at no point was she actually hurt by the nail cutting. We all can’t help it that she was just a dog that is naturally nervous about anything out of the normal! I understand. The only problem was Donna went home and her toenails were still clicking on the floor. Did she just get a nail cut that cost around $14? Because they look the same!

So anyway, toenails grow. So Mr P came home one day with a nail guillotine and between the two of us, we tried to cut Donna’s nails. I had read that we should cut at a 45-deg angle so as not to touch the dog’s quick. So one of us held the worried dog and fed it treats while the other tried to cut the nail. Unfortunately, we did cut into the quick for one of the nails. Donna gave a someone’s-murdering-me yelp and struggled like a thousand demon dogs. Of course she refused any more treats. And that was that. Our part-time domestic help who was home with us that day kindly advised the devious duo who were murdering the dog to take it back to a grooming shop instead. They have professional equipment that will hold the dog in place for the groomer to do his job. Ok.

So toenails grew again and very soon Donna’s clicking became more pronounced than ever. I was due to take her to grooming today but on the spur of the moment I decided to try cutting her nails, on my own. Oh yes, if at first you don’t succeed try, try again. And yes, I understand a dog is not a plastic toy. They feel fear and pain.

But you see, I have been trying to counter-condition Donna to view the nail guillotine in a positive light in the last few weeks. Every time I feed her a treat, the nail guillotine is in front of her, right beside her. Sometimes I get her to put her paw on the nail guillotine for a treat. Sometimes, I hold her paw and tap the nail guillotine on it. Sometimes she was worried but amenable. Sometimes, she grew suspicious and pulled her paw away.

At this point, I don’t want to take her to some grooming shop where there is a potential of her getting scared again and undoing my efforts in the last few weeks. I can’t be certain the groomer will be the kind that will make the “Good girl!”, “Good job!” big fuss that will bolster the scared dog’s confidence when she gets a nail cut. Maybe I am just getting ahead of myself to think I can do this. Hmmm…. please feel free to take me down a peg or two.

Anyway, today as usual, she was just sitting there and looking away. So I took her paw and held the nail guillotine real close. She gave a token, minimal resistance but continued sitting. I compressed the handles of the nail guillotine against the edge of her nail pretending to cut but not actually cutting. Perhaps she flinched a little but I ignored that and made a fuss and fed her lots of tiny little treats. As long as she is still taking the treats, she is ok. We know for our dog, she is quick to refuse treats when at the vet and the groomer. In this case, she was being brave. More treats! Then I held her paw firmly and cut a little sliver of her nail and made a fuss over her again. We took it slow. She could pull her paw away when she was uncomfortable. We can wait awhile. No treats while waiting. We try again.  Little shavings of nail at a time. A couple of treats every time we clip or pretend clip a nail. See, there’s no pain, is there? After a while, she was able to stand having her paw in my hand a longer time. More treats.

I don’t know how to judge where the quick of her nail is. But at this point, all I wanted was to relieve the impact of the long nails clicking on the floor on her joints. So I thought I’d just lift a paw and let her put it back down to test. As long as the nails are not hitting the floor when she puts her paw down, that’s enough for me. I did try to make her go to her bed and trot back to me. At a faster speed, there is still some clicking. By then she lost patience and had her fill of treats already so she stayed on her bed the second time I sent her there to test her nails out.

That’s fine. That’s enough for today. : ) I am feeling supremely bubbly.

My dog, not so much.

Not when she is told to “leave it” with the small jar of treats beside her. We demolished it from more than half-full to one-third full for the nail-cutting. Oh yes, she gets more of it after the photo. :P

Oh yes, one more good thing. I discovered the Snapseed app today via Heidi from Savvydesign <–click to see her beautiful set of running horse pictures. Donna on the left, is what would have come out of my usual slapdash Photoshop skills and Donna on the right is from Snapseed. OK fine, I still cheated and adjusted the levels in Photoshop again after that, simply because its kind of hard to judge the amount of brightness on my handphone vs on my laptop monitor. I felt the compulsive need to equalise for my laptop monitor. I didn’t like Instagram after Facebook bought it. So awesome to find a replacement. Yes, minutiae, minutiae.

Looking for a new photo app? Get the Snapseed app. The degree of control in it is way more than whatever barely-used photo apps I have in my phone. I recommend. (Not that I’m the authority, I’m not. :P ~)

– Learn more about canine feet http://www.canismajor.com/dog/feet.html
– This video helped inform my approach to Donna – How to train your dog to relax for nail clipping
– This page talks about the different nail trimmers, how to position them when clipping nails and how to judge when you are near the quick.
– This page talks about the process including the filing and what to do if you did cut too deep and the dog starts to bleed.


What the flowers saw


This dog doesn’t want to be kissed!


  1. Hello there city dweller. I just recognised you for a Best Moment Award – see my blog at http://rubytheblacklabrador.wordpress.com/2013/05/11/best-moment-award/ :)

  2. Thanks for sharing this! Sweet pictures and thanks for sharing a recommendation of what app to get. I try to do the same when giving my dog a treat :)

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