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Nail Trimming Nightmare


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Some background: JJ has been with us for 2 weeks now. He's settled in quite nicely at home, and we took him to the vet for a friendly meet and greet and a nail trim since he came to us with long clacking nails. I've been getting him comfortable with having his feet handled by touching and treating, and have clipped 2 of his nails myself. He's been fine with me lifting and wiping his feet twice a day after his regular walks.

 

Getting his nails trimmed at the vet he was all growls and snarls. By the time the tech got to the third foot, he was growling and barking and snapping. Thank goodness for those muzzles. She left the room for a while, and he calmed down, but as soon as she came back in he immediately started growling at her again. We never did get to his last foot.

 

Needless to say, I think he's now associated the vet office and nail trimming with being a really bad thing.

 

Unless there is a groomer with the magic touch, I think I'm gonna have to do his nails myself from now on.

 

Question: How do I now go about trimming his nails?

I've tested his front feet, and while he's lying down he lets me handle his foot and touch his nails. Haven't tested his back feet yet. Haven't brought out the clippers yet.

Any suggestions on how to get him comfortable again?

Dremmelling is an option I'm willing to try, but I'll still need to desensitize him to the idea.

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You can get him used to having his feet handled and nails trimmed by using treats to make it a good association. The same process works for both nail clippers as well as a Dremel. Even if the dog is fairly cooperative, I still recommend using treats to keep it a good experience and it also helps makes him more forgiving if you accidentally get a little too close. Here's a previous thread with good suggestions. And a

.

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Guest KsFrets

Our girl Maggie was a hard placement due to the reports of her biting her handler while clipping nails. The adoption group warned us, and even slightly discouraged us. She can be a pill, but I use a dremel, and she lets me do her nails, and she's never bit me. It's gotten easier over the years, as she has realized that the dremel doesn't hurt, and there's always a cookie waiting for her when we are done.

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Timo fights and snaps when getting his nails trimmed. We could no longer do it ourselves, even with the muzzle. We took him to the groomers, and they used the dremel. He has since learned to slip out of a muzzle and snap. So, he's been banned. I came on the forum and received great advice. PEANUT BUTTER! Now, my husband feeds him peanut butter through his basket muzzle while I dremel. Peanut butter is a great distractor, but he still fights a little. It's better than not trimming. We do this every other week now. I recommend doing this outside, or else you'll have peanut butter on your floors.

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This is going to sound weird, I know that and am saying it up front!

 

One of my dad's dogs,a German shorthair pointer, would not only growl, snap, tremble and growl while we were clipping her nails, she'd growl and lunge at the other dogs as we were doing theirs (had to put her behind a gate eventually). When hers were being clipped, it took one person to hold her in a full body grip while the other quickly trimmed.

 

Long story turned into a short one - I ended up housesitting with the shorthair for 9 months. Well, her nails needed trimming in that time and there was no way that I could hold her and trim at the same time. I learned early on with horses that if there is ever a barn fire, you had to cover their eyes with something (a shirt, towel, etc) to get them to be led out of the burning barn - somehow being suddenly blind made them more docile. So, the first time I tried clipping the pointer's nails, I had her lie down on her bed and i covered her eyes with a towel. She didn't move, didn't growl, nothing. I didn't have to hold her down. I clipped all of her nails, gave her lots of treats and praise. My dad used that trick going forward and never had a problem. :dunno

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So, the first time I tried clipping the pointer's nails, I had her lie down on her bed and i covered her eyes with a towel. She didn't move, didn't growl, nothing. I didn't have to hold her down. I clipped all of her nails, gave her lots of treats and praise. My dad used that trick going forward and never had a problem. :dunno

 

Now that's one I've never heard of. Well worth giving it a shot. Thanks for mentioning.

 

As for what I would have suggested initially, before reading sarabz's post, it would have been something like the desensitization that jjng listed. That has worked for us multiple times.

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Guest Wasserbuffel

Mine is great about having her nails done, but I still keep a pile of treats at hand and give her one whenever I get finished with a toe or two. I highly recommend the dremmel method over clipping, because it's nearly impossible to hurt the dog. (Just don't keep the grinder pressed against the nail for more than a couple seconds at a time).

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When we first got Tessie, she was awful at having her nails trimmed. She waould practically turn herself inside out trying to hide her feet from me. I took her to a groomer who placed her in the bath tub with the shower head on. While the groomer worked on one foot, I sprayed the others alternately with the shower head. This re-directed her attention to each foot which was being sprayed, and took her thoughts off the trimming. We did this for several months, followed by loads of sweet talk, praise, and treats. Now she will let me trim her nails any time while standing up with little struggle at all.

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Get a poop guard, smear it with PB and freeze it. Put it on the muzzle when you are ready to dremmel. I also find with some dogs it's eaier to do with them standing up. Have someone hold them or tether tightly.

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Dremel Dremel Dremel. That thing is worth 10x what it costs :)

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You've had some very good advice.

Take it slowly...one nail at a time.

 

The PB frozen into the muzzle is a good idea.

Not sure where you can find stool guards up here, though.

 

We also use a Dremmel....It was the only thing our Dobes would tolerate

We have just the small rechargable one.

The one the vets use is HUGE. And very noisy.

 

Make sure you change the sandpaper frequently, and have it fully charged.

 

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Get a turnout muzzle with a poop cup. Slather creamy peanut butter inside the poop cup. Put the muzzle on. You will be protected and your dog will be distracted. Win/win.

 

I have found a cordless Dremel to be much easier to use than the corded variety as it gives you the freedom to chase your fidgety hound without being tethered to the wall. Make sure you tie your hair back first if it is long.

 

Riley is nasty about having his nails done and once came very close to biting me in the face. He lunged at me with jaws wide open and from my perspective it looked like a great white shark coming up from the deep to swallow a seal. He snapped his jaws shut about half an inch from my nose. The message was pretty clear. So now the above method is how I get him done. He still fusses a bit, but mostly he's concerned with licking the PB out of his muzzle and I don't have to worry about losing my nose if he does get snappish.

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Here's a previous thread with good suggestions. And a

.

Thank you for those links! The vid was really helpful.

 

Might have to see if I can buy a stool guard online somewhere. P'butter sounds like a good idea, and it's one of the few things he likes to eat!

 

So, the first time I tried clipping the pointer's nails, I had her lie down on her bed and i covered her eyes with a towel. She didn't move, didn't growl, nothing. I didn't have to hold her down. I clipped all of her nails, gave her lots of treats and praise. My dad used that trick going forward and never had a problem. :dunno

 

That's awesome! Don't think it would work here, because towel over head just makes him all prancy and do the head shake walk backwards dance. Might give it a try when he's lying down just for the heck of it though. :D

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You can get a muzzle in Canada with the stool guard built in (it's fully integrated and not removable). Get hold of Karen at Canada's Camp Greyhound/Awesome Paws. It appears that only the UK muzzles are on the website but contact her and ask about them.

 

Alternatively, you can get stool guards from The GEM Store in Michigan. I don't know what kind of muzzle you are using but I believe these stool guards are for the heavy plastic kennel muzzles.

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Guest Giselle

You can get him used to having his feet handled and nails trimmed by using treats to make it a good association. The same process works for both nail clippers as well as a Dremel. Even if the dog is fairly cooperative, I still recommend using treats to keep it a good experience and it also helps makes him more forgiving if you accidentally get a little too close. Here's a previous thread with good suggestions. And a

.

I've worked with Dr. Yin before, and there are some key things to keep in mind.

1) With fearful dogs, you must first make sure that the animal is comfortable and happy. This is done through classic counter-conditioning - or pairing the scary stimulus (clipper) with something pleasurable (food) simultaneously. You have to time the clipper EXACTLY with the treats and remove the clipper BEFORE you remove the treats. The two must be presented together. The dog must always stay comfortable. Watch the video closely to get a sense for the exact timing that is required.

2) After you've done a few repetitions of classic counter-conditioning, you can switch to operant counter-conditioning - where you present the clipper BEFORE you give the treat. It can look like: clip/Dremel the nail --> "Yes!" --> treat. This way, the dog understands that the nail clip precedes the treats. If you practice this many times, you can eventually clip all the nails before giving a single treat.

And voila! This works for virtually everything, even baths, injections, ear cleaning, etc. As long as your timing is accurate, it will work. :)

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i have tried classic conter counditiong, good luck. it's a long process and needs to be repeated daily or even a couple of times a day.

 

consistant clipping/dremmeling, weekly helps

working w/ a good groomer- making a deal for a rate- helps

having a cooperative partner to hold the dog while you trim and finding out what position works for you- helps

high quality treats only used for nail cutting is a must- in our house it's cheese. felix doesn't get of whiff of that stuff unless it's nail time.

 

one does not get that much off when using a dremel, make sure it doesn't get hot- they feel that and change those bands.

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Giselle is right, BUT, it usually doesn't really have to be EXACTLY done. Don't let that part worry you. You do want the treat to come at the same time as the trimming (be it clipper or dremel) & you want the treat withdrawn immediately when you remove the trimmer. However, you don't need to be perfect in your timing. If you did need to then a bumbling idiot such as myself wouldn't have managed to use this technique with success. And I have managed to use classical conditioning over & over again for a variety of issues including nail trimming.

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Guest Giselle

The better your timing, the faster & more consistent the results :) Dr. Yin demands extremely high standards (which is why she can guarantee fast results), so I've incorporated that mentality into my practices, as well. After all, if we are to do it, why not do it the best and fastest way possible? You know what they say, "Aim for the moon because, even if you miss, you'll land among the stars"!

 

Edit: I also want to say that timing&technique is so crucial because I noticed in your other thread a suggestion that classic counter-conditioning is "very gradual". On the contrary, it should be very fast. Otherwise, we would be promoting a different technique. So, again, if it isn't progressing as fast as you'd like, re-evaluate your technique (record yourself), and compare it to the video. Is your timing as exact as you'd like? If not, practice on a stuffed animal and get the muscle memory down before you try on your pup.

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Guest gomiesmom

My big guy Gomer is horrible about his nails. At first ( 5 yrs ago) he had no problems. Now- it's a different story. I have been bitten , and now use the muzzle but it's still a battle. i am dfinately his push over, and he knows it, and he is better when my husband helps. We have tried the peanut butter thing too. It works.

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Giselle, my point wasn't to contradict you but to point out that you can get some good results without perfection. Mainly, I didn't want someone to think they needed to be perfect just to make it work. There are plenty of us around who may not try something for fear of making a bigger mess of the situation. Wanted folks to know that even dolts like myself can make this stuff work. I'm not a dog trainer or a behaviorist. I'm just me, doing my best. Yet somehow even I can manage to get some decent results even if my technique isn't the best or I may not use the terms behaviorists like. :)

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My boy was very good with the dremel at first. I started doing his nails myself because I couldn't stand the trauma of watching him scared to death at the groomers twice. If anyone is going to traumatize him at least let it be me. Now he decided that he is scared of the dremel. I cannot do his nails myself becausr he fights and growls, but as long as I have a helper he is a saint. Ive found the best way is to have him lie on his side with a treat in plain sight.

 

I try to dremel maybe once a month and in the meantime I bought emery boards for the little stuff. He seems to tolerate the emery to an extent.

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UPDATE

We took the plunge and tried clipping again today. For the past week we've been giving lots of treats and practicing foot touching, then nail touching/pinching, then touching the clippers to the nail without actually clipping anything. Since he's been good with no growling or panting, we put the muzzle on, smeared some peanut butter on the refrigerator door and went for it. He was so intent on licking the peanut butter off the fridge, that he didn't seem to notice me clipping his nails. I only did one foot (the one they didn't do at the vets). Afterwards he got half a hot dog for being a good boy!

 

He then promptly rubbed his peanut buttery muzzled face all over my pants.

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If you have someone who can help you, have them pick your dog up then clip the nails. The dog is so focused on being up in the air that they don't notice what you're doing to their feet!

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