Dog Agility Toe Nail Care

nail trimming It is pretty safe to say that if you have no feet, you have no agility dog. Two of the most important paarts of your agility dog that need to be kept healthy are the pads and nails of your dog’s feet. In this article we are going to look at toenail care and how to teach your dog to accept the process of nail trimming. Why some dogs find nail clipping time a torturous and dreaded time we really don’t know, but usually it is because the dog has never learned how to deal with being restrained and having it’s feet handled.

You may think it is a silly reaction by your dog, but you have to go by your dog’s ability to cope, not your perception of the issue at hand. So with clicker in hand and in a quiet area with low distractions, you can start with teaching your dog to accept you touching their paws.

  1. Simply touch and release the foot rewarding each time the dog does not pull away.
  2. If you are able to touch the foot then slowly extend the amount of time your hand is on their foot.
  3. Teach them to give you their paw starting with just a touch on your hand and slowly extending the amount of time they leave it on your hand.
  4. Start manipulating the foot while it is in your hand starting with a stroke and working toward a squeeze.
  5. When you can add a slight squeeze slowly add length to the squeeze and then adding intensity.
  6. Now you can bring in the clippers and start from the beginning while holding the clippers.
  7. If the dog will not allow you to get close with the clippers find the point where they will and gradually bring them closer.
  8. When you can touch their foot keep it brief and slowly extend the amount of time touching the foot.
  9. Then add pressure on the foot and manipulating the toes without actually putting clippers to the toes.
  10. Place clippers on the toes briefly and slowly extend the amount of time you can have them on the toes.
  11. Finally you will nip the very tip of the nail taking very little so you can have a few sessions and there is no chance of “quicking” your dog.

Especially with dog’s that have distrust with the process, we strongly recommend using guillotine style clippers. They put less pressure on the toenail, are easier to handle and make a better cut. Also be sure that you get clippers that are appropriate for the size of your dog. If you have both large and small dogs you should have clippers for each sized dog.

Keep sessions short looking for small improvements and giving jackpot rewards for any extra try from your dog. If at any point your dog regresses go back to a point where you can get success and start over. This is a lesson that may take weeks to work through so don’t rush it. You are replacing unwanted behavior with a new one and that takes time.