It’s the simple things
It’s the simple things you do for safety that can go the longest way. I think its’ safe to say most people don’t consider their dogs’ toenails a safety issue until they’re looking down at a bloodied nail-stump (or worse, a torn toe) after their dog caught it in something. Dogs’ nails and toes are very sensitive and when nails are too long, the dogs’ suffer. You know how much it hurts when your nails are too long and dig into you- dogs have the same problem! now imagine running barefoot down an Aframe with long toenails that curve down and scrunch your toe back. Yep, that’s right. OWWWW!!!
Your dogs’ nails should be kept trimmed and rasped- no edges on the nail to get caught in the fabric of a chute and tunnel. Be mindful that some agility dogs wear their nails down naturally (somewhat like many typists) so check your dogs’ nails, don’t simply trim them all the time. Refer to the handy chart we’ve included, it will really help.
If, like me, you have a ‘clipper shy’ dog, consider these tips:
- Switch to a new clipper. Rusty old clippers or guillotine clippers can make cutting more difficult and painful, especially for big dogs (and labs. Oh lord, LABS!) Make sure your clippers are sharp and make crisp cuts.
- Operant conditioning. This is an EXCELLENT time to break out the clicker for clicker-trained dogs. Start out with them sniffing the clippers- click! the clippers touching them- click! playing with their toes- click! clipper touching their toes- click! you get the idea, right? Make toe-trimming the bestest thing ever. (Actually, all grooming should be bestest time ever. )
- If you just can’t get them to tolerate clipping, consider buying a nail grinder. I know some who swear by them!
- If your dog is a water dog, let them play in some water for a long time, then clip their nails. They’ll be softer and easier to trim.
- Try doing one nail, or one paw a session. If your dog just REALLY HATES those clippers, this might be the best and kindest method (if you don’t want to buy them a grinder).
- If you’re starting out with a long-nailed monster ( I confess, I had one of these before I realized it) start small. One nail, one little bit at a time. Don’t try to cut back all the way in one go, you’ll end up with a lot of blood and mess.