Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Dog Training: Nail Clipping

By Michael Russell
Many dogs simply do not like having their nails clipped. And that is putting it mildly. In fact, some dogs absolutely freak when you attempt to perform this small bit of maintenance. If you are looking for some advice regarding this issue, read on.

There is a solution to the nail clipping problem other than having to have your dog tackled and held down by rather large individual. It will however take time and patience. This, by the way, is an excellent example of how to take things one step at a time with your dog - in this case one nail at a time.

You first of all need to make decisions regarding the logistics of this training. Choose when and where you are going to do it and the time of day. You will also need another person to help, if you can.

When choosing the where, pick a room that your dog feels comfortable in and is relatively free from distractions, especially other dogs. Always use the same space so that eventually your dog will associate it with a warmth and relaxation. This will come in handy for things other than nail clipping as well.

Daily bring your dog into this "special" place at around the same time. With your partner, create a warm and soothing atmosphere by handling and talking to your dog in a calm and loving manner. This will make your dog feel like nice things are happening. The use of very special treats work really well here.

Give your dog a nice treat and lightly touch one of his paws. Don't make an overt move to the paw, just gradually work your way to the paw and gently touch it without lifting it. Do this for all four paws, perhaps working from the hind paws forward.

Do this daily and bit by bit increase the interaction with the paws. Make sure your dog remains comfortable while you are doing this. Give lots of treats as you work up to putting your fingers between his toes and slightly lift his paws. If your dog fusses at all when you lift his paws, do not fight with him. Keep the interaction calm and finish off on a positive note with a treat and a stroke of the paw.

Put the nail clippers in a spot where they are easily accessible. Work up to having them in your hand as you fondle your dog so as he is not intimidated by the sight of them. Get your dog used to the sound of the clippers by opening and closing them. Once you feel your dog is fairly comfortable, reach down and clip one nail. If he fusses, just end on a positive note with a treat. If your dog absolutely hates having his paw lifted, try to learn to clip his nails with his paws on the floor.

Start out on this "one nail a day" program and in time, with a lot of patience, nail clipping can become a special, intimate and pleasurable experience. There will be good days and bad days but the key is to remain calm and always make the session a positive one. Do not become angry with your dog and do not rush him. Sometimes your dog will only allow you to do one paw. That's fine. Just reward him and continue the next day.

You may not even have to clip your dog's nails much if they get lots of exercise including regular walks and free running in fields. This can keep the nails worn short.

The above illustration is an excellent example of how to train your dog effectively taking it one step at a time. You can successfully modify his behavior by ensuring that he associates pleasure with the situation. It is wonderful to see your puppy learning new things and growing in trust and confidence. This builds a warm and loving relationship with your pet.

Michael Russell

Your Independent guide to Dog Training

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