When you have a dog at home, for sure there are a lot of things that you should learn how to do yourself. This is particularly valid if you don’t want to spend money on grooming, and you feel brave enough to get the job done personally. The bond between the owner and the dog is very strong and special, if it is based on love, trust and tenderness of course. A dog being scared will not love you, it will obey you, but affection is out of the question.
So the grooming procedures that a dog undergoes are various but the obligatory ones are bathing, brushing, combing, hair trimming, cleaning the nose, eyes, ears, teeth brushing and of course nail trimming. While the first few are not painful (although hair bushing can cause some nasty feeling if the hair is tangled), the nail trimming can be very painful and stressful for a dog. Moreover it can be very dangerous if it is done in a wrong way, it can even risk the life of your pet.
If you cut your nails too deep to the quick, it will be painful, and this pain will not go away for days. The same applies for your dog. The risk is even bigger because the dog quick is saturated with blood vessels, and if you cut it, your dog may even die. This is one of the reasons why people prefer not to do it at home. Moreover, dogs have some self-defense instinct when they sense that nail trimming is at hand. They know that it is painful, some from experience; others just know it by default.
But all of this should not freak you out because you have to do it anyway. When you go out for a walk, you should be careful where you bring your dog. After coming home, you should carefully check its paws and clean all the dirt or thorns (if you took it for a walk in the grass for example). If you notice the dog licking its paws, be sure that there is something that creates an irritating sensation, and you should take it away.
When you walk your dog in the snow, you will notice that all of a sudden it starts limping and sits down, trying to take away the lumps of snow using its teeth. The feeling is painful, so you should do it yourself so that the dog can enjoy the snow walk and play.
If you take your dog for a walk every day, and it walks on a solid surface (sidewalk, asphalt, etc.), the nails are worn out naturally which doesn’t bother the dog. But if it stays mainly at home and you don’t let it walk a lot outside, be sure that the nails will grow a lot. That is why they need to be trimmed. As we have already mentioned, this is not an easy manipulation and is dangerous if you cut too close to the quick. Cutting the nails is much easier when their color is bright because you can see how far the cuticle goes. But most dogs have dark nails, and nail trimming should be done at first at least by a specialist using special clippers.
There is no dog in the world that will just hand you its paws and howl with happiness while you trim the nails. Every dog finds this manipulation stressful and scary and reacts pretty aggressively – barks, tries to run away, tries to bite or scratch, etc. That is why you should teach your dog to like being touched on the paws. So when you pamper it and hold it, don’t just tap it on the head and back, but also play with its paws. Try the game “Give me five” and teach it how to give a paw like “Hello”. Thus it will learn that there is nothing to be afraid of.
If you bring the dog to the groomer, you will notice that he or she always gives your pet a treat if it doesn’t create problems while being trimmed. Although some people think that this is not reasonable, food treats always works with a dog because it means that you encourage it to be good and obeying.
Trimming is done by a clipper or a rotary tool, depending on what your dog can handle or how comfortable you feel using one or another. The rotary tool is useful when you don’t have so much experience, because it doesn’t cut the nail, but it files it. So you can do it slowly and carefully and avid cutting the quick. You should always have at hand styptic powder to stop the bleeding if by accident you hurt the paw of your dog. If this happens, put lavishly of that powder and bring it to the vet straight away.
You should know that dogs hardly forget such bad experiences and sometimes it is impossible to make a dog sit still to trim its nails if it had the bad experience in the past. It is the same if the dog was beaten with a belt, or dragged by the leash, etc. Anything that reminds it of stress and violence can trigger the aggressiveness of the pet. So even if trimming of nails seems like an easy task when you watch videos online, don’t forget that the people who do that have trimmed thousands of paws and know how to handle different situations. That is why you can do the rest of the grooming at home, but when it comes to nail trimming, take your dog to the groomer and witness how it is done before you feel sure you can trim the nails safely.
Some dog owners say that massage works pretty successful for desensitizing your dog’s paws. Dogs love it so much that they even fall asleep while being rubbed. Thus, they know that there is nothing to be afraid of when someone touches their feet.