Clipping Nails- Snarling Dog (Doberluv please read)

Discussion in 'Dog Grooming Forum' started by skittledoo, Jul 25, 2009.

  1. skittledoo

    skittledoo Crazy naked dog lady

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    I have an issue... Bamm is always super difficult when it comes to clipping nails. He will snarl and gets really stressed out and worked up. He smiled nastily at Cristy when we tried to clip his nails a minute ago. He has a basket muzzle on. I do have a soft fabric muzzle but even with it fitted he's managed to slip from that before so I prefer to use the basket muzzle... but... it's just awful everytime we have to clip his nails.

    Here's my question. How can I calm him down and keep him from snarling and thrashing? I tried giving him some peanut butter, but that didn't help. Tried talking to him soothingly to no avail. We can handle the snarling as long as we can get him to stop thrashing... but anyways... I could really use some help.

    eta: Doberluv... hope you read this. Cristy said you're really knowledgeable about clipping nails
     
  2. bubbatd

    bubbatd Moderator

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    In your case , I'd have a vet do it until you can do it without stress . Do one nail a day .
     
  3. JessLough

    JessLough Love My Mutt

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    I really don't have any tips, except that Rosey used to be just that way. We'd always take her to the vet to get her nails done, where they have the techs to hold her down and clip her nails.

    However, Thursday, I realized her nails were pretty bad, and said "screw it, I'll try it (never have, just my parents have)". Well, Rosey let me cut her nails!!!! She wasn't very happy, but she wasn't snarling or growling, she just hid her face and let me pick up her paws :) Mind you, I only did the front two paws, by that time she had had enough and wasn't letting me near her back paws. But, it is progress!
     
  4. Zoom

    Zoom Twin 2.0

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    Dr2Little had a great thread on how to desensitize dogs to Dremeling, in addition to Doberluv's great threads on how to trim nails as well.

    I actually managed to Dremel Sawyer's nails today, something he's never let me do without a lot of fuss. I've been steadily messing more and more with his paws and nails lately and making a huge deal over that, without any tools in my hands. Then I used a coarse grit nail file the other day and got one paw done a bit (his nails were horrible). Cheza helped; after I got Sawyer to flop on his side, she just sat there and scratched his "sweet spot" on his neck so I could do what I needed to do while he got a bunch of loving.

    What do you use to do his nails with? If it's a clipper blade, how sharp are the blades? He might just not like the pinching feeling that you get from a semi-dull set of blades?
     
  5. corgipower

    corgipower Tweleve Enthusiest

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    The standard desensitizing tricks didn't work on Ares. He'd been quicked a couple times and he just didn't trust anyone to do his nails.

    What eventually did help him was when I had him out and wanted to clip his nails and there was something that had gotten his attention on the floor. He started sniffing around and I think found a few crumbs of spilled food. While he was distracted with his sniffing and scrounging, I was able to handle his feet and clip a couple nails.

    I started tossing some food around the floor for him to sniff for every time I wanted to clip his nails and that kept him sufficiently distracted. I had to follow him somewhat, which was interesting, but doable.

    Also, he and I have now gotten to a point where he will stand quietly while I clip. I always touch the clippers to his nail before cutting and watch his reaction. If he flinches, I know I'm too close to a quick to cut there. He knows that he doesn't have to snarl and bite and squirm for me to move away from the quick.
     
  6. Dizzy

    Dizzy Sit! Good dog.

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    Bodhi won't let me do her nails. No matter WHAT tactics I have tried. She is not a biter thank god, but she refuses to have them done.

    I just make sure I exercise her on a hard surface every couple of weeks... odd solution, but it works :D

    I chuck her ball up and down the drive a couple of times and it wears them down nicely :)

    Failing that, I'm afraid it'd be pinning her down and doing them (ie vets), and I'm never going to do that. I've tried persistantly with treats, and soothing, and making it into a game for her, and rewarding.... you can do ANYTHING to the dog, just not her nails.

    Next puppeh I have is getting it's nails done from day one :D
     
  7. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    I'm sure I've written somewhere (but I can't find it) about my son's dog who was terrified/terrorized by the mere thought of having her nails clipped, due to a bad experience. She was so vicious due to fear that we couldn't get any vet to clip her nails without being anesthesized. Long story short....I spent about 4-5 days desensatizing her to the point where I could do a little token trimming and just gradually progressed to where she was completely okay with it. And then we moved onto a Dremel, which was a piece of cake. She really prefers the Dremel. But that must be studied thoroughly before you do that because it can be very dangerous.

    That said, basically....break things down as many times as you can into as many smaller steps as you can make. In other words, you might sit on the couch with him and a bowl of ice cream and show him the clippers. Feed a spoonful. When he is comfortable seeing the clippers, stroke his feet and nails with your finger or hand. Feed a spoonful of ice cream. (or other highly tasty treat) Hold hands while you watch the movie. LOL.

    Next day, do the same as you did before, only add in one more little baby step. Stroke his nail with the clippers. Feed. Praise. Do a little and stop while the goings good, while he's happy. Don't do more.

    Next day, do all that which you did before, but now add a few more nails to stroke and maybe tap with the clippers. DO NOT CLIP YET. Make a big fuss...have a party, give wonderful treats for small progresses.

    When and IF he's comfortable with the previous steps, try shaving off or clipping off the tiniest smiggen of a nail....JUST ONE NAIL. Reward and call it a day.

    You get the idea. Baby steps. Reward for small successes and take your time. If the dog walks away, let him. Don't use force of any kind. If he wants ice cream or steak, he'll come back and let you do a little something in exchange. Slowly up the ante.
    Make sure the clippers are sharp.

    Something I wrote for someone else, but its on the Dremel.


    Plan on taking a week or so to condition your pup to the Dremel. Clicker training is very helpful for this, but if you aren't using a clicker, you can still use the concepts. Here's what I did...or an aproximation of it:

    Day 1...several times a day, lay the Dremel on the floor. Don't turn it on. If the dog so much as looks at it, say, "yessssss" and give a treat. Use tiny, tiny tid bits of hot dog or string cheese...something really yummy. Repeat if he looks at it again. Then don't treat for that. Wait. See if he'll take a step closer. "yessssss" and treat.

    Day 2....Repeat day one and build on it. Once the dog is getting closer to it regularly, stop rewarding for that and wait. Wait until he sniffs it. "Yessss!" Treat and make a fuss.


    Day 3...

    Hold your dog in your lap on the floor and hold the Dremel in one hand....not turned on. "Yessssss" and treat/affection. See if you can touch his nail with it not turned on. Make a fuss and treat. Do this for just a minute or two several times during the day.

    Day 4...

    Then turn it on while holding it in your hand. "yessss" and treat/fuss over him if he comes close to investigate. Don't try to do anything overt to him with it. Just sit and hold it while it's running. Build on that. See if he'll come closer and sit in your lap while you're sitting on the floor. If not, turn it off and see if he'll get on your lap. Treat. Turn it on low speed so it's not too loud. "Yessss" and Treat, treat, treat and praise. If he's not too worried, you can try one light brush against the tip of one nail. Treat/praise. Try one more if he's fine with it and call it a day. Don't push it. You want to end when he's had a positive experience and not gamble that one more nail might be too much for him.

    Day 5...

    Repeat what you did on day 4 for a few sessions and depending on his acceptance of it, move forward a little bit. Do a couple of nails or a whole paw. Do another paw the next day. Never use any force or let the dog become frightened of it. You may have to go more gradually since you've already tried it but went a little too fast. You'll need to convince the dogs that it's worth it to get nails done.

    My male Chihuahua doesn't exactly love getting his nails done, but goes along with it. He does however, guard the Dremel and will curl his lip and give off a little growl if another dog so much as walks past it when it's just sitting on a low table or floor. He's associated it so strongly with a party and high, high value treats, which with this dog is an obsession in itself.

    Remember not to apply pressure with it and to do little, quick brushing-like sweeps...just 3 or 4 and move onto the next nail. You can come back to the first nail after you've finished the others on that paw. Too long or pressure can burn the heck out of them. If puppy has any pain associated with this, it can sabotage all your training efforts. You probably already know this. I presume you found out when you got the Dremel, but I thought I'd throw that in anyway.
    __________________
     
  8. Athebeau

    Athebeau New Member

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    In addition to the great advise given take a good look at how you are approaching your dog. Take a deep breath, never fight with the dog yet also don't back down when they try to pull their paw away. Get yourself into the right frame of mind and relax. When a dog sees a nervous person approaching with nail clippers they are not going to trust that person. It's neat how much a confident person can do with dogs that are freaks for nails. I personally would be fighting a dentist coming at me with a drill giving off body language that they are nervous! I want to trust that person doing this procedure :)

    We have a rescue dobe X that you could not touch his paws nor touch the top of his head without him freaking and snapping. It took patience, gaining trust and teaching him a proper stand and basic obedience to get him to over come his fear. He would not allow a Vet to touch his paws but my Sister worked with him in a positive manner and taught him to trust. He is now fantastic for anyone to touch his paws and do his nails. Just keep in mind don't fight the dog. It makes my skin crawl when I hear about so called professionals pinning dogs to clip their nails. That puts the dog in a fight, flight or freeze. Most dogs freeze so the person working with the dog "thinks" the dog has submitted. Old school thoughts but some still believe this. The poor dog is scared to death and nothing has been done to get the dog over it's fear instead the fear is compounded.
     
  9. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    I know what you mean Ath. This is what I saw on television...an old school, high profile dog "psychologist"....He pinned a dog and forced him to have his nails clipped and the dog bit him 3 times in just a few minutes. Unbelievable.

    If you take this very gradually, (shouldn't take more than a week or two) like I explained, being nervous or non-confident will be a non-issue because both of you will have been reinforced all along for teensy, weensy steps toward the final goal of being relaxed with cutting the nails. And each of those tiny steps of improvement will have served to equate a pleasant, bonding time complete with wonderful snacks. No nervousness or lack of confidence will even come up. Just don't rush through the steps. Only advance to more when the last thing you did is easy and comfortable for the dog and you. I don't think I'd have to act particularly confident with my dogs when I Dremel their nails. They're pushing each other out of the way to get on my lap to be the first in line. I kid you not.

    And like I've said before, Jose` actually resource guards the Dremel from the other dogs if it's lying on a low table or on the floor....not when it's about time to do nails, but other times when nothing is going on and there it is sitting. Yup....little growls, a few teeth showing as he lies right next to it.

    Anyhow, you will be confident. If you're not, it means you're doing something wrong....going too fast, pushing the dog toward something he's not ready for. And I agree that being nervous or tentative could make your dog think something is wrong and become that way too.

    I have a different take on this:
    In the beginning, when I was conditioning my dogs to the Dremel, (and when I was counter conditioning Tokie, who was balistic upon even seeing nail clippers in your hand) if they'd want to get out of my lap and go away, I did not force them to stay. I just sat there and waited and realized I probably was asking too much too soon. I waited and the dog would usually come back for the yummy treats I was using for this. I would just go back a step to where the dog was okay with what I was doing and then work up again.

    Later, once my dogs were old hands at having their nails Dremeled or clipped, they had been doing it for a long time, I might tell them, "Nah...you stay put. Let's finish this." And I'd use a little force at that point because I knew they weren't afraid. They just wanted to get on with their lives and doing nails was cramping their style. LOL. But in the beginning, using any force can create an association of NO FUN AT ALL with doing nails and you want the whole thing to be as pleasant and rewarding as you possibly can. And that's a tall order with clipping nails. It's just naturally not that fun.
     
  10. corgipower

    corgipower Tweleve Enthusiest

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    I used to believe that. But with the corgis, it only made things worse. Ares now knows that if he fusses, I'll honor that. He might be fussing because of his aches and pains and the way I'm holding a foot or he might be fussing because I'm too close to a quick. But that fussing isn't just because he can - he has a valid reason, and for me to try to continue would cause him to not trust me.

    This is a dog who used to need a muzzle for nail trimming and now he stands quietly and I barely need to hold his foot except to separate the toes.

    Many dogs are sensitive to having their paw held - it might be ticklish, it might be painful, the angle it's being held at might be awkward, their balance is changed - whatever the reason, desensitizing them and building positive associations are what they need.
     
  11. Athebeau

    Athebeau New Member

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    My goodness I think I'm going through mentalpause I can't believe I said that! LOL Thank you Doberluv and corgipower for pointing that out. I wouldn't want anyone following that horrible advise I typed! Heck I sound like the dog torturer.

    A bit off topic corgipower, my cousin used to breed and show corgies. Adorable dogs :) we also get many in for grooming.
     
  12. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    Oh yeah...you are the all star animal abuser. That's your hallmark, or didn't you know. :D Cheh....yeah...right.

    My little Chi will pull her foot back from time to time when I'm Dremeling her. She isn't really trying to avoid it because she's been doing this for a long time and is quite fine with it over all. She's usually the pushiest one to jump into my lap when it's Dremel time. But it seems to just be a reflex almost. The vibrations are undoubtedly annoying to say the least so it seems natural for a dog to pull the foot back. I will take her paw and hold it more firmly and tell her, "come on now, hold still. We're almost done." (they do get tired of holding still for so long. Dremeling takes longer) Then I am sure to give another cookie. Sometimes I think, like Corgi said, they need to perhaps be re-positioned into a more comfortable position or just need to rest for a sec. I probably should just do a couple of paws at one time and do the others later, but usually I just push through and get 'er done.

    So, just because my vetran dogs may pull their foot back a bit here and there, I don't just throw my hands up and let them go on their merry way. No....I won't back down. :rofl1:

    So, I think it's all in how we interpret what you said. You may not have meant to use brute force on a green dog who is just beginning to get use to clipping or with one that has an issue about it. That force is what caused Tokie, my son's dog to develop such an extreme phobia about nail clipping and messing with her feet. Several of his friends held her down and forced her to get her nails clipped. They were frantic and nervous, strong arming her, yelling when she wouldn't hold still... and the whole experience just freaked her out.
     
  13. Renee750il

    Renee750il Felurian

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    I handle Kharma's feet daily. She really, really doesn't like it -- tolerates it because it's me. Occasionally I can even kinda sorta clip a nail a little bit. Her nails are not only too big to fit into clippers, they rival Wolverine's talons for toughness :wall: You guys would laugh/be horrified if you saw how I have to clip a little on one side of the nail, then the other side, then clip the point that's left, and even then can barely get the clippers to cut through.

    I've even tried a rasp. Oh, that worked . . . . NOT, lol!

    Let's not even discuss the dremel :rolleyes: Let's just say that this IS the dog who attacked the cattle fence when she was 3 months old . . .

    I'm not sure which of us dreads nail clipping more :( And Bimmer and Tallulah take their cues on it from Kharma, although Bimmer will tolerate being messed with longer *sigh* His nails are more difficult, though, because he has hair that grows down over them.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2009
  14. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    I know what you mean about the nail being so big and so hard. Lyric's and Tokie's nails are like that...very difficult to clip unless they've gotten too long and the tip is thinner. That is the beauty of the Dremel. Of course, that takes about 15 minutes per dog for me. If I did it more often, it would be so much better, but I procrastinate a little. I do remember times where I'd only be able to get one little corner of the nail in the clippers, then have to wedge in the other corner of the nail. Nope.....those thick, hard nails are really difficult to clip. And the hard ones take longer to Dremel or file too. The little Chi's nails are softer and tinier and they go pretty quickly except I have to be very careful because I can barely see what I'm doing. LOL.
     
  15. Renee750il

    Renee750il Felurian

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    Hard to really tell, but consider that these paws are EACH 5.5 inches across . . . the talons are about the size of a medium woman's little finger. Yup. Not the nail -- the FINGER :yikes: :rofl1:

    [​IMG]
     
  16. Giny

    Giny Active Member

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    Many great suggestions here.

    Whenever I read a thread about difficult time doing nails it always bring to mind on of my client's dog, a welsh terrier, who from the get go did not like his nails being done. I have to muzzle him, sadly (I hate having to do that) but if I didn't he would seriously bite. I've found in the course of clipping his nails the best method in doing so is I start with a couple nail and when he starts to tense up, just when he's about to lash out and start thrash I stop, calm him down, massage his back, talk to him gently until he calms down then do a few more and repeat when he starts to tense up. It's to a point I know before he will react now, just by feeling his body. Takes me a lot longer to do his nails but since grooming him I think that doing his nails now are a lot less stressful to him and me then when he first came 4 years ago.
     
  17. Athebeau

    Athebeau New Member

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    Doberluv, thanks I got such a kick out of your post. So I should change my name from Athebeau to the dog torturer...hmmm lol

    My Sister has quite a few tricks for doing nails on difficult dogs at our grooming shop. For small dogs she will have one of us hold the dog in a hug and rub belly and she quickly zips off the nails with a big positive yay after each nail. For one highly nasty Westie she just puts the dog on the grooming table and brings the paw up from behind like a horse and clucks to the dog like you would do to a horse when doing their feet. She too has an aggressive Welsh which she uses a different technique where she does them so quick the dog doesn't react. Some a blow in the nose clip, blow in nose clip and praise at the end of the nail clipping. For large breed dogs that are nasty for nails for some she will muzzle just as a preventative and doing the dogs nails in the tub works best as even though there is a bath mat down they are still a bit unsure of their footing. Some she won't even lift their leg and just snip the nails quickly while they are standing on all 4's some dogs dont even notice. She brings the nails clippers under them so they don't see. Her main thing is to never fight a dog to do nails, if you fight the dog the dog will resist and become tramatized. The thing is my Sister has confidence and you can see the dogs feel very comfortable with her and relaxed. I probably could not get away with doing the same tricks on her clients nervous dogs as they would pick up on my insecurity right away. You can't fake confidence when it comes to things like that, at least I can't. We have a dremel but since we are on a time line when it comes to doing nails we normally clip the nails off then dremel quickly just so they are not rough.

    For my own rescues Beau my Dobe had to have positive tactics and desensitizing techniques used. We had to get him used to his paws being handled first so we started out with massage and massage down the leg and when he tense massage back up the leg etc. Soon he liked having his paws massaged and a snip here and there didn't bother him. Now for nails he is best when he is standing and the paws are picked up like a horse when cleaning their feet. For my highly aggressive Rottie rescue I used the massage method as well. She has severe HD so I don't make her stand up so most times I will clip her nails when she is relaxed and I will massage her and rub her belly then quickly clip her nails massage and belly rub again and she doesn't mind it at all, now that is. Chance our land shark positive techniques worked well for her. She was taught to stand and she is done like a horse and then afterward she gets high intense play time and she just goes crazy happy. She is basically rewarded by play time as she loves to play. The Newf's probably just sleep through getting their nails done, they don't care at all.
     
  18. Giny

    Giny Active Member

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    Clipping nail experience is so different form dog to dog. Especially when you do it for work. My own dogs are really good at getting their nails done, I'm really proud of them. With client dogs, my technique varies from dog to dog. Some, as the one mention in my previous post, I've come to learn that holding on to his paw and forcing him through it gets him so worked up I worry about his overall health and mental state. Some dogs, even if they don't like their nails done I will hold onto their paw, talk through the process and they do just fine. It all depends on the dog.
     
  19. corgipower

    corgipower Tweleve Enthusiest

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    Meh...I'll let the corgis go on their merry way if they pull their foot away. :p

    But basically, I'll let them have their foot back, they'll walk around the room a bit, maybe play for a minute and than I'll go back to clipping nails. With them though, they don't trust the process 100% even now - Ares trusts it 95% and Morgan trusts it about 70% (bitches... :rolleyes:). If I continue to try to clip when they want to stop, that trust goes down. By taking a break and taking a breath, we regroup and it goes well. :dunno:

    I agree...it's all in the interpretation and it's different for every dog. I don't do the mals that way, because if I stop the clipping session, it'll be hours before I can try again while they bounce off walls. :rofl1:
     
  20. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    Wow Renee! What huge paws and nails! I guess a rasp is the only way to go. LOL.

    Really good and interesting posts. I can see how creative you have to be when you are a groomer. There's no time to go through a super lengthy process. I think those ideas were very good and innovative.

    .

    That's what my horse shoer use to say when my mare would pull her foot forward and back, forward and back. I'd tell her to keep still and he said, "A-w-w, she just wants her foot back." LOL. He was such a nice man.

    Well, that's a good idea to break things up a bit. I only do that occassionally but I think I'll work on doing that more.

    I will have a plate with diced up cheese, steak or chicken on the counter and every few nails, they get a tid bit. So, they're not really wanting to go away but like I said, the vibrations are annoying if it catches the nail a certain way and Chuli, being so tiny will pull her foot back a little. In fact, if i turned her loose, she'd very likely jump right back into my lap. That one really truly loves the attention and food more than the tedium of the procedure. She really seems to like being fussed over. She's one who loves luxuriating in a bubble bath with a good book or any kind of grooming...putting make-up on, nail polish, curlers, you name it. :p She's just a very agreeable little gal.
     

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