Dogs are often reluctant to have their nails clipped, therefore, starting the process at a very young age is a good idea.
Initially, get your dog accustomed to you simply holding and stroking their paws. Then progress to applying light pressure on their paws and nails - lightly pinching their nails between your finger and thumb. Reward them for allowing this.
Then, after a lesson from your vets in how to cut a dog's nails, lightly trim a couple of nails a day. Just trim off the tips - this lessens the chances of you cutting too deep and frightening your dog off.
If you feel uncomfortable, let your veterinarian do the cutting, but always continue to help your dog feel at home with handling his paws and cutters!
Tools You Will Need
When you're wondering about how to cut a dogs nails, there are a variety of nail clippers and trimmers on the market. You can use a guillotine (generally for smaller dogs), and trimmers (Miller's Forge for medium-small dogs and Large for large dogs).
Anatomy Of A Dog's Nail
Knowing how to cut dog's nails is easier when you know the anatomy of a dog's nail.
A dog's nail is constructed of a hard outer cover, which protects the quick which is the inner soft part containing blood vessels and tender nerve endings. In dogs with light coloured nails, the quick can often been seen as being faintly pinkish in color and is thus easy to avoid cutting into.
In the more common black nailed variety, the quick it totally invisible. Therefore, knowing exactly how to cut a dog's nails in this case is imperative. In these cases, trimming off little nibbles instead of large slices is more advisable.
Keep checking the clipped part of your dog's nail and look out for a dark spot in the middle of the newly clipped area - this shows the start of the quick - do not cut too far into this. Taking just tiny nibbles, you will then start to see a pale third inner circle. Stop there - or else you are likely to hurt your dog.
Also, don't forget your dog's dew claws. Growing on the inside of his legs and not in contact with the floor, these do not get worn away and will sometimes curl completely over causing your dog to get snagged in undergrowth, his bedding, etc. This can be very painful, so do keep those neatly trimmed too.
The best way how to cut a dog's nails is to have the dog lying on a raised table or other surface. Do remember to put a non-slip mat for your dog to sit or stand on so she doesn't slip and hurt herself. Having someone strong hold your dog in their arms while you quickly clip a couple of nails is another effective way of doing this.
However, your dog may be as good as gold and let you cut their claws with no fuss at all - in which case you are a very fortunate person!
Carefully read the instructions for the nail clipping tool of your choice. For example, with the guillotine, you need to cut from the underneath of your dog's claw upwards. Never clip downwards.
When wondering when and how to cut dog's nails, little and often is the best policy. Just nibbling off the ends of each claw will be less stressful for your dog - and yourself! The point to aim for is to trim off any bit that protrudes over your dog's pad. Thus, when he stands, your dog's claws should not touch the ground.
When you've accidentally cut into the quick and it starts bleeding, use a product like QuikStop, which is a reliable styptic powder that will stop the bleeding.