JJ Murray wrote to us with a question about clipping his dog’s toenails: “I have a really hard time clipping my dogs nails especially my Sitzu He bites if I try to hard My other dog is skittish about getting his nails cut. Any ideas ? I really need help with this.”
“Clipping toenails seem to be a sticking point for many dogs, especially small breeds like Shih Tzus for some reason.”
DP Trainer 3 replied: “Clipping toenails seem to be a sticking point for many dogs, especially small breeds like Shih Tzus for some reason.
The main thing is to gt the dog used to you handling his feet. Make it a game. Several times a day pick up one of his feet and and handle it, touching the nails, checking the foot, etc. At first, just pick up a foot, reward the dog with something of high value (to him). IF he accepts the handling. gradually do more, such as actually touching/handling one nail, then 2, etc) before rewarding. Basically you want to teach the dogs that having their nails done is no big deal, but something positive and rewarding for them.
Now, if the dog actually tries to bite, that warrants a “You don’t mess with the Alpha” correction. And, make sure you are relaxed and confident about what you’re doing. Your attitude will go a long way towards how the dogs behave.
While working to desensitize (paragraph 1) one thing that’s worked for many people is to have someone hold a jar of peanut butter for the dog to eat the peanut butter while a 2nd person cuts nails. That might work, but don’t necessarily try clipping all the nails in one session.