Nail trimming

Experience speaks that the chore of nail trimming is a weekly job, on average. Health care is an important part of caring for a fur-friend and the nails are no less important than the daily meal. If allowed to grow out too long the proper alignment of the body is thrown out of line, from the fingers & toes, up the legs and effecting the back. Elongated nails can damage floors, furniture, and tear & bruise skin.

A contented relaxed dog for nail trimming doesn't happen overnight. It can happen progressively quickly with just a few minutes of practice every few days until the nails are where they need to be, or they need to rest for a week because they're as short as they can safely go (close to the quick).

Your tool of choice is a cordless Dremel, an electric sanding tool, sort of like a nail file set on "super grind". It's quick and easy to use, it doesn't leave any sharp edges on the nail, it doesn't cause physical discomfort to you or the dog, and is extremely difficult to trim the nail too short; the dog simply won't let you. All that's required is a calm, content dog and that begins with a calm, content you.

Breath. Breath deep and through the heart area. Relax with your dog in an area that's comfortable for both of you and well lit. Let your dog "meet" the Dremel ("the grinder"). You are the calm, you're driving this train.... gently. Turn it on, away from the dog but where he can see it. Talk to him, keep breathing, use your free hand to gently pet him like a gentle massage.

Once your dog is calm with the grinder running, continue to do so while handling his feet. If your dog refuses to have his feet touched, held, manipulated, .... you'll be checking back in a few days to get special instruction.

It's completely normal for a dog to jerk, jump or pull away at the first contact of the Dremel on a toenail. It feels freaky! Breath. Calm. Some dogs may need gentle constraint, but continue to lavish love, good energy, gentle massage, calming voice. YOU, the human, knows this process is painless, gentle and kind and it's you who needs to convey this to another species.

If that's as far as you get the first time, that's just fine. That's a huge positive step for your pup. Be grateful for this huge leap of trust and faith that your dog has made. Drop it for a day or two.
If your dog will let you continue, just make a brief grind on as many nails as he'll let you and call it a raving success. The goal is accept, no to conquer; to teach, not destroy.

Don't expect to get those nails down to size the first few sessions and be sure to leave a couple days in between sessions so the nail can adjust and the muscle memory can do its magic. It may take a couple of months before the whole exercise is acceptable to your dog, and that's just fine. You, the human, are learning, too. In no time you'll both be nail grinding experts.

Personally, I almost always forget to have my reading glasses on hand and can't see the details for the job to my liking. Since I choose to do the nail grinding exercise after the weekly bath and dogs are wet, escaping to get those glasses isn't really an option. There's a solution that works wonderfully. Your fingers of the non-grinding hand hold and steady the toenail. Feel the nail as you work and learn how that nail feels when it's trimmed correctly. This also helps catch any missed sharp spots as you're not relying on just your eyes.

Ttouch Update
Touch therapy blog entries can now be followed at: katsdogs2002.blogspot.com
Jazz's therapy dog blog remains just that... therapy oriented.