Long and sharp nails can cause injuries to people, scratch floors and furniture—as well as cause dogs discomfort and even pain if the nails become too overgrown. Pet owners don’t like their dog’s nails to become overgrown any more than groomers do, but maintaining short nails on dogs has its challenges, especially if the only time the nails get trimmed is at grooming appointments every few months.
Over time, long nails can change the structure of a dog’s paw and throw off their natural movement. If the nails continue to grow without maintenance, they can curl and grow into a dog’s pad, or splay out sideways and get caught easily on carpets or furniture, only to be painfully torn off. Long nails are not just a cosmetic concern, they are dangerous and uncomfortable for the animal. Some animals may naturally wear down their nails when they walk, run and dig, but it is the job of pet owner to ensure that their pet’s nails are healthy.
Cutting the nails on some dogs is as easy as picking up a paw and trimming or Dremeling each nail, but there are too many dogs that do not take to nail care that easily. It is a challenge for groomers to trim and shape each nail on dogs that are pulling away or trying to bite. Some dogs just seem more sensitive about nail trims than others.
The dog’s anatomy and structure might have something to do with the way they protest when their paws are handled, but there are many other reasons as well. A dog that has had negative experiences with having his nails trimmed can become very difficult. In some cases, it just comes from a lack of experience. When there is no reinforcement history associated with nail trims, who could blame a dog for disliking such an awkward way of being handled? Let’s face it…it is kind of weird.
As groomers, we can prevent some of the problems we face with dogs that misbehave during nail trimming by reaching puppy owners and educating our clients, and providing creative solutions for at–home nail care. Giving clients homework to help their dogs become more comfortable with nail trims can be very helpful when it comes to making dogs less nervous about the procedure.
The problem is, even if a dog loves having his paws handled when laying on the sofa, it doesn’t mean they will be fine for nail trims. We have to work with our clients so that they understand that dogs don’t generalize well, and that they can help their pet have stress–free nail trims, leaving the nails short and smooth with some work.