Four Nail Trimming Tips for Your Furry Friend 

pawGiving your four-legged friend a paw-dicure can be quite the task for some. Whether it’s the result of an accidental cut of the quick in a previous nail trimming session or the dislike of having his paws touched, your pet’s aversion to nail care can take a stressful toll on both. Seeing the fear in your beloved pet’s eyes can be heart-wrenching, but if that fear results in flailing, snapping or biting during the nail trimming process, it can also be dangerous for you both. But don’t despair; if your dog or cat runs for cover at the mere sight of nail clippers, there’s still hope!

It’s important to keep your pet’s nails trimmed for many reasons: doing so prevents breaking and bleeding of nails that grow too long; long nails can interfere with normal paw movement; and unkempt nails can scratch your furniture and floors – not to mention you! –  as well as snag your rugs and upholstery. While it’s ideal to familiarize your pet with nail clippers and regular nail trims early on in his life, that isn’t always possible. Teach your furry companion to relax during trim time with these helpful tips…

Begin with a clean slate. Pets often have a negative association with clippers that have been used on them in the past. Think about it… if your mother nipped your skin while clipping your nails as a child, making you bleed, wouldn’t you be a bit hesitant to let her have a go at it again? Try purchasing a new pair of clippers that are distinctly different in appearance from your current pair.

The first time you introduce the new clippers to your pawsome pet, act excited, with a positive and happy tone in your voice; be fun and dramatic; reward him with ample treats, rub downs and cuddles. After a few minutes, put the clippers away, as well as the treats. A few moments later, let the party begin again. Repeat this process as often as necessary to allow Fluffy and Fido to grow a new, positive association with the clippers. It may be helpful to bring the clippers out of hiding periodically, even if it’s not time for a trim, just to reinforce the positive association.

Slow and steady wins the race. Don’t attempt to get all of your pet’s nails trimmed at once. Start with one, and reward your fur baby with a treat. You can even enlist a partner to hold a spoon of peanut butter within licking distance to keep Fido’s thoughts otherwise occupied. Speak as you trim, maintaining a calm and soothing tone, as you progress slowly, working your way from one nail to the next. If you’re weary of accidentally cutting the quick, trim a little bit of each nail at a time, and have styptic powder nearby just in case. Remain mindful of your pet’s body language to alert you if you cut too close or if agitation sets in. If he becomes anxious or uncomfortable, stop the session and start again later, allowing him time to relax and unwind.

Scrub-a-dub-dub. Your pet’s nails soften while being bathed, so clipping after his bath may make the process easier – although this probably won’t help if your fur baby is a feline! If your pet is fond of bath time, try combining the two activities. A friend of mine suggested I clip my ornery Pug’s nails while he was in the tub, his feet soaking in warm water. I was skeptical, but it actually did the trick! The warm water soothed and distracted him, softened his nails for easier clipping, and made the process virtually stress-free for us both. Be sure to clip the nails prior to bathing, to avoid any exposure to soap or other irritants should an accidental bleed occur.

Seek professional help. If all else fails, there’s always your trusty veterinarian. If you or your pet are still weary of nail trimming time, make an appointment for a nail clipping at your vet’s office. The staff there know all the tricks of the trade and will get it done painfully and correctly. After all, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Socializing Your Adult Dog

dogSocialization does not end after puppyhood. While it is ideal for the foundation for acceptable behavior to be laid early on (pups are most adaptable between three and twelve weeks of age), continuous encouragement and reinforcement is a must. But what if you were lax in the socialization department when Bella was a baby, or you adopted Angus when he was four years old… is it too late for them to learn? Absolutely not! Most canine behaviors can be positively impacted with effort, time and – most importantly – patience.

Just as socialization among humans is important, teaching us how to get along with others, it is also vital for your canine companion. Proper socialization teaches her how to respond in a healthy way to things that may make her anxious or afraid, such as people, other animals, noises and objects. Help your adult dog become confident and friendly with the following exercises.

Family First

Your family is your dog’s pack; the group with whom she will spend most of her time. The safer and more comfortable your dog feels at home, the less fearful and anxious she will be. When welcoming a new, adult dog to your pack, keep attention and affection set at a slow yet consistent pace. You don’t want to overwhelm her or, on the other end of the spectrum, invite separation anxiety to develop. In the beginning, it’s better to have a slightly bored dog than one who is over-stimulated. Spend a few weeks to allow your furry friend to build a bond with her pack. In this time, do not introduce her to anyone outside her pack, or take her to any new places.

Introduce New People Slowly

Try to introduce your dog to only one new person each week. If your pooch is aggressive, it’s best to keep her on a leash during introductions, until she becomes familiar and settles down. On the other hand, when introducing a nervous or timid pooch, let her take her time approaching her new friend when she sees fit. Upon meeting, have the visitor speak in a happy, low tone and offer your pooch a treat, imprinting the interaction as a positive one.

Visit the Dog Park

It is important for your adult dog to develop a well-balanced behavior around other dogs; you don’t want her to be too ambivalent or too aggressive. After her first few weeks alone with her human pack, leash her up and take her to the local dog park. But… stay outside the fence, giving her an opportunity to smell the smells, see the sites, hear the sounds… get accustom to her surroundings. Each time a dog comes to the fence to check her out, give her verbal praise and a treat to make the experience a positive one. It may take just a few visits, or a dozen, but once you feel she is comfortable with her surroundings, and confident she will interact well, take her inside for some more personal interaction.

Enroll Her in Class

If your own training techniques fall short, or it seems your adult dog is just set in her ways, enlist a professional trainer to help. Not only an obedience class a great way to socialize her with other dogs and people, it will also teach you both learning commands that can make the socialization experience a more comfortable and successful one.