What’s the best way to trim a dog’s nails? That’s a common question, since most dogs have experienced painful or unpleasant nail trims and loathe the entire process. I have had to find an answer; the secret is peanut butter.
Orly’s nails grow so fast! Cali’s need attention occasionally, but if I let Orly’s go for a couple of weeks, they get unbelievably long. So, it has been important to get her cooperation for frequent pedicures.
I’ve never liked using dog nail clippers. First of all, they all seem to be designed for right-handed people, and I don’t feel like I can get a good grip on the nail and clip it. Second, all of my dogs have either had entirely or mostly black nails.
With black nails, it is really hard to tell where the “quick” is. This is the tip of the blood vessels that feed the nail. In dogs with white nails, you can see the quick (it’s pink). If you cut it, the dog bleeds. A lot. And squeals in pain. It’s horrible.
That leaves a dremel-type tool to file down the nails. It’s pretty easy to do … if the dog cooperates.
With Jana, Cali, and, most recently, Orly, I started dremel training early. Turn it on, let them hear it while getting great treats. Let them sniff it thoroughly when it’s off. If possible, let them watch other dogs get pedicures (and treats, always lots of treats). Things like that.
Jana spoiled me. She loved pedicures. She loved anything that made her feel like a pampered princess. She’d sit still, hold up her paw, and accept my attention (and treats!), looking bored by the whole thing.
Cali is good, but she doesn’t like the nail trims. She cooperates, but pulls her paw away if I spend too much time on it. I rarely do hers, so it hasn’t been an issue.
Orly … needs her nails done nearly every week.
Fortunately, she’s very cooperative. Even better, she loves peanut butter. I mean really loves peanut butter. So I have come up with the perfect pedicure process:
- Get dremel, styptic powder (in case of bleeding), and scissors from the grooming kit.
- Smear a small plate liberally with peanut butter.
- Find a comfortable corner where the plate can be pushed up against a wall and not escape.
- Put the plate down and let Orly start licking the peanut butter.
- Push Cali’s nose out of the peanut-butter dish.
- Turn on the dremel and pick up first paw. File each nail.
- Put down the paw.
- Turn off the dremel, and push Cali’s head out of the peanut-butter dish.
- Move the plate back into place.
- Turn demel back on and pick up the next paw.
- Repeat steps 7, 8, 9, and 10.
- If 4th paw is finished before the peanut butter is gone, use scissors to trim the fur between Orly’s paws.
- Give Cali some peanut butter as a reward for being (relatively) patient while Orly had her pedicure.
She doesn’t seem to mind this at all. I’ve never had any accidents (no blood and no pain), and she seems happy to participate in this activity every time I get the dremel (and the peanut-butter plate) out. It actually only takes about 10-15 minutes.
The trick is figuring out how much peanut butter is needed to keep Orly busy long enough to do all four paws. As she gets bigger, her peanut-butter-licking skills are improving rapidly, so the layer of peanut butter gets thicker and thicker. I might need a bigger plate soon. She’s pretty active, so I don’t worry (yet) about the large amount of peanut butter she’s eating. If we get up to half a jar at a time … well, let’s hope that doesn’t happen!