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How to Calm a Dog and Trim His Nails

Do you and your dog dread nail-clipping time? Does he run and hide every time you take out those clippers? If the answer is yes, you’re not alone. This is a common scenario that pet parents go through when it is time to trim.

It is highly recommended to start training your puppy early on. Just like you teach him commands such as “sit” and “stay,” you should also train him to relax when it’s time for grooming. Of course, it is easier to train young pups. When it comes to older dogs, be ready to spend some extra time preparing him for the process.

You may witness a lot of unpleasant reactions and an array of emotions from your dog during every nail-trimming session. However, it doesn’t have to be this way! In this article, we’ll walk you through some ways to calm your dog and have a relaxed trimming session.

But before delving into that, there is important information you’ll need to know first.

Essential Tools

Nail Clippers
There are plenty of nail clippers available on the market, but most fall into three basic categories. These include guillotine-style nail clippers, suited for smaller breeds. And then there are pliers-style clippers, which are suited for medium and larger breeds. Lastly, scissor-type nail clippers are also an option, especially for larger breeds. Each kind has its own advantages depending on the size of the dog being groomed, so it’s worth considering the differences before buying a pair for your dog. In addition, you can also file the nails using a pumice stone or grind them with a Dremel-style rotary tool.

Styptic Powder
If an accident should occur and the quick (pink part of the nail) is cut, you’ll want to have styptic powder close by. This is used to stop the bleeding and close off the wound to keep it from infection. If you don’t have any styptic powder on hand, baking soda, baking flour, and cornstarch can all make great substitutes.

Dog Treat
You want to make the nail-cutting session a positive experience for your pet, and dog treats can be a big help in that regard. Rewarding him after each nail cut can create a positive association with grooming in his mind.


Now that you know about the many clipping essentials, let’s dive into methods for calming your dog. This will make nail clipping a more enjoyable experience both for you and your dog.

  1. Prepare Him Slowly

Before you begin clipping, give him trial sessions. You need not use any tools at this stage. Just try to keep him relaxed, and train him to let you touch the paws. This is the first step to a successful nail clipping session.

Once your pup is relaxed and lets you touch his paws, you should slowly make way and touch his toes. Keep a soothing voice to keep him calm, and gently squeeze each toe. Next, apply some gentle pressure on the nails.

If your pup gets scared or pulls back, stop the process and continue later. Do this several times a day. You may even reward him with his favorite snack as a sign of appreciation.

  1. Get Him Accustomed to Clipper Tools

It is important to remember that the clipper tools may be new to your dog, so he may be understandably frightened by them. Thankfully, you can help him to get over this fear by getting him to become familiar with the tools, which includes picking up the clippers in his presence.

Reward your dog, and then act in a positive manner while holding the clippers. Continue this for a few weeks, and your dog will soon learn to associate clippers with praise and treats.

Your next aim is to get him used to the clipper sound. Stand away with the clippers in your hand, and then squeeze the tool to make a sound. Just remember to reward your pup while you do this.

  1. Tackle the Nail Trim

Once you have trained your dog to let you touch his paws and nails amid the sound of clippers, it’s time to get going. Gently hold the paw and only trim the tip of the nail; do not cut to the pink portion of the nail. Reward your furry friend after each trim. Trimming all the nails in one go may not come easily, so take time and divide the trimming into several small sessions.

  1. Don’t Hold Him Down

It is advisable to hold the dog gently or have someone pet him while his nails are trimmed. Forcing him down will only make him panic more, so avoid doing so. Instead, you can try to distract him with soothing talk or praise.

Tips and Tricks

  • Choose to trim the nails outside or in a well-lit room.
  • Keep clipper blades parallel to the nails and not across the finger.
  • Avoid squeezing the toes—it hurts!
  • Make nail trimming a fun experience.
  • Cut every two weeks for maintenance and every week for keeping them short.
  • Use your fingers to separate the toes.



It is essential to ensure that the clipper blades are sharp. Dull blades often lead to painful trimming. This may create fear in your pet, and he may resist in the future. Handling him with patience, and persistently trying to teach him, can make everything much easier in the long run.

However, since each dog needs time to become accustomed to the process, you need to go at a comfortable pace. Do not scold your dog if he exhibits fear or pulls back. Continue to follow the above steps regularly, and headache-inducing nail-trimming sessions should become a thing of the past.


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