Dogs need regular nail cutting as untrimmed nails can injure the dog, the owner, and other pets during play. But not all dogs allow professional groomers or their owners to trim their nails. Some even become uncooperative by moving around, get extremely stressed, run, or bite. So, how do you safely and successfully do aggressive dog nail trimming? It needs dog training and a lot of patience.
Here are the steps on how to trim an aggressive dog’s nails:
1. Start slowly and gradually
Practice holding your dog’s paw daily. Start with a 15-second duration, then give your dog a treat. Lengthen the duration as tolerated. If your dog tries to bite you, firmly say ‘no,’ and do not provide a treat. Try this for a week.
2. Trim one nail
If a week of practicing holding your dog’s paw succeeds, try trimming on one nail. Proceed to cut another one unless your dog shows any sign of aggression, stress, or discomfort.
Make sure not to trim too far into the paw by:
- Approaching the nail at a 45-degree angle, and
- Keeping a 2mm distance from the quick to the edge of the nail trimmer.
It’s ok if you don’t get to cut all nails at this point. The goal here is to get the dog used to this grooming procedure.
3. Check the condition of the trimmed nail/s
Check your dog’s nails for bleeding or redness after cutting. If bleeding is present, use styptic powder. Make sure to keep your dog from licking the affected paw. Also, clean it regularly to prevent infection.
4. Proceed as tolerated (Don’t forget treats!)
Keep on cutting your dog’s nails, keeping behavior in check. Reward your dog at the end to reinforce a positive reaction towards grooming.
Tips for Owners
- Muzzles and other restraints don’t usually work. If anything, they cause injury or more discomfort to the dog.
- Treat, food, and toy distractions may be more effective in diverting a dog’s attention during nail trimming.
- When trimming nails of puppies, playing with their feet helps in getting them accustomed to nail trimming, especially when you introduce this type of grooming at an early age.
- When working with adult dogs, it would help to have two people work together. One holds the dog while the other does the trimming. The holder should be one whom the dog trusts to minimize the risk of biting and lessen the dog’s stress.
- Continue to practice Step #1 in this list, which is holding your dog’s paw daily, until he/she doesn’t mind the grooming.
- Experiment with positions. Adopt the one your dog feels most comfortable.
Ultimately, the goal here is to trim your dog’s nails without hurting them or yourself. The initial approach is always reinforcing positive behavior. If such positive conditioning (as above) doesn’t work, you may need to seek a veterinarian or professional dog groomer. Aggressive cases often require sedation before nail trimming.
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