Introducing Nail Clippers To Your Dog

fearful dogs Dec 05, 2023

 Have you tried to clip your dog's nails, but it didn't go as planned? Or maybe you're getting ready to introduce clippers to your dog, and you want to make sure to do it right. Either way, you'll want to break down the process into small enough steps that your dog doesn't decide nail clippers are bad news. Here are some ways to break down your nail clipper training, before you even touch your dog with the clippers:

Nail Clipper Introduction Step #1: Look At The Clippers

First, just show your dog the clippers, from a distance. I prefer to do this when they're in a nail care position like lying on their side You can see in the video below, I just hold the clippers out a few feet away from Pancake, so he can see them, but I don't move them toward him. When he stays in position, he gets a treat. 

If your dog can't stay in their nail care position when they see the clippers (or, if you haven't trained a nail care position yet), you might need to go back and train the position more carefully, show the clippers farther away at first, or even switch to a different set of clippers, or a nail file or dremel instead. 


Nail Clipper Introduction Step #2: Hear The Clippers

Some dogs have no problem with the nail clippers until they hear the sound of a nail being clipped. So it can help to introduce clipping sounds gradually and separately from actual nail clipping. In the video you'll see Pancake lying on his side while I clip nothing (I just move the clippers open and closed), while I clip a carrot stick (pretty quiet clipping sound), and while I clip a toothpick (much louder). I did all of these clipping exercises with the clippers at least a few feet away from Pancake, because I found that having the noises come from very close to him startled him. So moving the clipping sounds closer to him is something we'll have to do gradually. 


Nail Clipper Introduction Step #3: Move The Clippers 

Once your dog can look at the clippers held motionless in your hand while maintaining their nail care position, you can start moving the clippers around a little. In the video I show a couple of training repetitions in which I move the clippers toward Pancake (without touching him with them), but you might have to start with motion in other directions first. 

As you can see, there's lots of ways you can introduce your dog to nail clippers gradually, before actually touching them with the clippers- never mind actually clipping nails. 



If you have any questions about helping your fearful dog become more comfortable with nail clippers, shoot us an email at [email protected]. We'll be happy to try to help!

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