Cutting Your Dog's Claws Safely

When I got a pretty good scratch from one of the girls this week (her name will remain unspoken), it was time to trim some toe nails. It had been several weeks since we'd done this task, so it was beyond time.

With 55-pound labs, it's not something I can do by myself. I can't wrestle, trim and be all pleasant-sounding at the same time. Danny, on the other hand, can lay them down, soothe them with his voice and be done clipping before they know it.

So on Friday I ran the girls through their baths and then sat with them on the front porch while Danny did the actual trimming. (Such a blessing!) We put the girls on blankets for comfort and for easy clean up.

We use the "guillotine" style of clippers which make a clicking sound as they cut. Sadie's not too fond of that noise, but Danny can calm her right down with his soft voice and a quick belly rub.

I'm always afraid that I'll cut into the quick on their precious little toes, because you're supposed to stay 2 millimeters out. It's much harder to see on their dark nails, but somehow Danny can see and measure well enough that he just clip*clip*clips and it's all over with. Cutting into the quick will cause bleeding and panic, so it's super important to make small cuts as necessary until you're close.

And then comes the best part - the love, praise and reward. I know it's not easy to be calm and submissive while a human is playing with their feet, so they get tons of belly rubs and behind-the-ear scratches when they get all done. Then they come inside and get treats - labs think with their tummies.

Clipping claws doesn't have to be a strain if you remember these few important things: comfort, safety, praise and reward. Combine these and you'll have beautiful puppy toes - pink polish not included.


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