Tag Archives: cutting dog nails

How we trim dog nails

There are a lot of dog nails in our house. We trim dog nails regularly – we’ve had a log ot practice. Four dogs, each with 16 toenails, in addition to Torque’s two bonus nails – he has dew claws on his front feet.

Just to make our lives more difficult, two of the dogs grow their nails at a great rate – making weekly trims imperative. Fortunately, one of them is the best dog ever for doing nails. The other, not so much.

Scaredy cats

We freely admit that we’re scaredy cats. We cringe at the thought of the damage possible with the squeeze-type guillotine nail clippers. Simon, the angel-for-nails dog, would be fine. But Booker? He has a hard time holding still for a millisecond. 

Booker is a very special boy. Not in the best sense of the word. He tries very hard, but life is difficult. He’s a high-anxiety boy. Touching his paws isn’t a problem. But keeping hold of a paw, positioning a clipper, and making the cut wouldn’t be possible. And we want to avoid horror-movie scenes. Not to mention hurting our boy.

Using power tools

The tool we use to avoid a bloody mess is the rotary power tool. There are lots of manufacturers, ours is made by Dremel. We use a fine-grit (120) sanding drum on the dogs’ nails. 

You might wonder how Booker reacts to that. It took some training (both us and him), and it still takes some patience, but we know we can’t do any major damage and there’s rarely blood.

The handiest hint we can share is to get the “Flex Wand.” It makes the sanding drum remote from the motor – and its whine. It lets you hold the sander like a pen. Not to mention not having to hold a heavy tool while you’re trying to perform a delicate task. 

Getting accustomed

Training the dogs to ignore the sound of the motor didn’t take long – aside from Booker. We just turned it on (placed on a flat surface) across the room and gave them treats. If dogs get a treat every single time they hear a certain sound – they’ll quickly learn to like the sound. Even love it.

Trim dog nails with a rotary tool and sanding drum

Not that our dogs “love” getting their nails done, but they don’t really mind (aside from Booker.) They know they get a treat after each paw. And they know our grooming routine. When we take out the tote bag with the rotary tool, they line up for their turns, and their cookies. It may not be a favorite thing to do, but to trim dog nails isn’t traumatic, either.

Second stage

The other factor, aside from length of the nails, is how smooth they are. Our dogs all use their paws a lot, usually to get attention. And if the dog is pawing at you, you don’t want to get scratched by rough nails. So we use an emery board on all the nails to take off any rough edges the rotary tool may leave. It’s an extra step that not everyone uses, but it makes the dogs’ pawing just naughty instead of painful.

You can find many charts and diagrams online recommending the correct length and angle to trim dogs’ nails. If your dogs’ nails have gotten a bit lengthy, don’t try to take off all the excess at once. A little bit at a time and you’ll get there.

Walking on pavement

We also see advice to walk your dog on pavement to wear down the nails. It’s never worked for us, but we’re also not miles-at-a-time walkers. If you enjoy walking, it’s certainly a great excuse to get out and enjoy the time with your dog.