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Why do dog's hate having their nails trimmed?

February 03, 20243 min read

Why do dog's hate having their nails trimmed?

It's not at all surprising that most dogs hate having their nails trimmed. If your dog struggles with it, know you are not alone!

Does your dog freak out when you take the nail clipper out?

Do they constantly pull their paw away?

Do they tremble or try to avoid you when it's time to cu their nails?

I've been in that boat with my own dog!

Why do dog's hate having their nails trimmed?

There are a few reason why our dog has such strong feelings to having their nails trimmed.

They had a bad experience.

Bad experiences can have long lasting effects, especially if there weren't many good experiences to begin with. Using a dull nail clipper can pinch the nail when you attempt to cut. Instead of going through the nail like butter, you need to apply more pressure...ouch!

Of course the most notorious is hitting the quick (the vein in their nail). It's happened to most of us, myself included. You're most at risk of hitting the vein if your dog's nails are black and you can't see where the vein begins, but also when they are constantly pulling their paws away.

If your pups first experience is one of those, it may have made a big impact on how they feel about nail trims. However, if your dog has had many nail trim experiences with most always being positive and fun, the more likely they are to bounce back and shake it off.

For example if they had 100 nail trims in their life and 99 have been great and one awful. The chance of that 1 awful experience being a core experience is very slim.

Your dog is sensitive to body handling.

It often comes as a surprise that most dogs don't like being touched or restrained. (like a hug, for example). Some dogs are more genetically predisposed to being sensitive and most is from a lack of experience during their socialization period as a puppy.

When we get a puppy, socialization is one of the top priorities. Part of that socialization process is body handling. We want to teach our puppy that being touched, held, groomed and checked at the vet is so much fun! However, it's often put on the back burner. These are easy exercises to practice when they're young. And most good puppy classes have it part of their curriculum. (We do!)

If your dog has a hard time having their paws wiped, you might find it difficult to trim their nails. This is something that will need to be worked on before attempting to clip their nails. It's important to mention that even if your dog HATES being touched on their feet, training is possible to teach them to not just tolerate to but actually enjoy it!

It's painful for your dog.

If your dog has an underlying condition like arthritis or allergies where their paws get super itchy, it may be very uncomfortable for them when you touch their paws, let alone cut their nails.

While this is not as common as the two reasons above, it's still worth asking your vet if you have an older dog, if they lick their paws a lot, or they suddenly became sensitive to nail trims when they used to be totally fine with it.

Want to learn on how to make nail trims less stressful for your dog?

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Want to learn on how to make nail trims less stressful for your dog?

Katherine Davidson, CTC, CSAT, FFCP (trainer)

Founder and creator of Dog Inspired

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Hey There!

I'm Katherine Davidson​

I love puppies and I'm a total behaviour geek! I enjoy watching new puppy parents thrive in their roles of raising the BEST puppy ever!​

Author, course creator and professional dog trainer from Montreal Canada.

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