Bust Out The Nail Grinder

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My younger dog Zoe was pretty good about having the vet tech clip her nails when she was a puppy. Unfortunately, all that changed as she got older and not only acquired a fear of going to the veterinarian, but also started to hate the clippers after being quicked the last time the vet tech cut her nails. I had been lax about introducing the clipper to her as a puppy, and now I was paying the price for it when she started thrashing around when the poor tech tried to clip her nails.

Zoe should have been able to overcome her fear, right?

Of course, I immediately reached out to the positive reinforcement trainer we’d used to teach basic obedience to ask for help, and we set up a training session to teach the basics of nail maintenance. With some time and patience, Zoe should have been able to overcome her fear of the nail clipper right? Unfortunately, that was not the case. She was having none of the clippers, although she slowly became more comfortable with me handling her paws and nails with all of the counterconditioning and desensitization we did.

Patricia McConnell wrote a blog post in April 2016 about why so many dogs absolutely loathe the nail clippers. She speculated that some simply hate the ideas of having their paws being handled, while others don’t like the feeling of the clippers going around their nails or loathe the sound the clippers make as they cut the nail.

Her dog Willie wasn’t thrilled about the clippers, and she made the decision to use a nail grinder to keep his nails short. Even though she had to get him used to the sound of the Dremel, Willie preferred having his nails trimmed with a nail grinder rather than clippers.

Much like Willie, Zoe hates clippers and I suspect it is not only due to the fact that she was quicked, but also because she doesn’t like the feeling of pressure on her nails. So I made the decision to try a nail grinder, and I’ve made far more progress using a Dremel than I ever did with clippers.

If you’re getting frustrated because no matter how hard you and your trainer try your dog still fusses over the clippers, you could try a nail grinder instead. It is possible that your dog doesn’t like the feeling of the clippers going around their nail, or they get scared at the sound the clippers make, both issues a grinder avoids.Of course, you do need to condition your pooch in order to get them used to the nail grinder. If your pet is truly scared of the clippers, it is worth it in order to make them feel comfortable and to keep their nails from becoming overgrown.

There are also a few advantages to using a nail grinder rather than clippers, as it is much harder to hit the quick with a Dremel. Even if your dog has black nails, you can still see where you are in relation to the quick and you can stop the session before you get too close.
Another reason to use a grinder is that unlike clippers, it simply wears the nail down instead of squeezing and cutting through them. This means that it is not as painful for dogs as a clipper, but you do have to careful to not keep the nail grinder on their nails for too long, as it can heat up and become uncomfortable for your dog.

If you have hit a brick wall in nail maintenance, purchase a nail grinder and see if that helps your dog overcome their fear of having their nails trimmed. Introduce the grinder slowly and with lots of praise and rewards, and go at your dog’s pace,, which may be much slower than you’d like. You might be pleasantly surprised to learn that even though they fought the clippers at every turn, they will accept the Dremel and stay still for nail trims.

About the Author:

Amanda Ferris is an accomplished writer who has written for sites such as TheThings, IndieReader, Fashion&Style, and New York Family. For the past five years, she has volunteered for Bay Ridge, Brooklyn’s very own Love Wanted Pet Adoptions. She currently owns a laid-back 12-year old Bichon Frise named Esme, and a 3-year-old fearful mystery mutt named Zoe whose noise phobia and anxiety sparked her foray into the world of positive reinforcement dog training.

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