The Second Greatest Doggy Tip Ever

Take Care of Your Dog's Feet

I have been involved in almost all aspects of “dogdom” for 20 years.  Grooming, training, vet teching; I have done it all in my career and loved it all too!

I have learned a few tricks of the trade over the years that makes my life with dogs more enjoyable and I would occasionally like to share those tricks with you to make your life with your dog a little more simple.

If you didn’t catch my memorial day tip (one of my favorites) read all about it here!  This is simply the best way to wash your dog!

But recently I had a question about doggy nails and doggy nail trims.

Watch the Video

First and foremost I am going to suggest that you join us in the  Dog Training Secret’s Video Vault. because in the video vault I did a tutorial video showing you how to trim your dog’s nails, from young puppies to older dogs.

It is much easier to learn watching a video than it is reading an article; however I know that some of you will take any help that you can get so here it goes, my tricks for nail trimming.

Safety First

Some dogs take nail trimming very seriously and will bite you if you try to trim their nails.  If in doubt, don’t do it or use a muzzle to make sure you are safe!   Sometimes a muzzle is a good tool simply because it distracts the dog and gives him something else to think about long enough to get his nails trimmed!

Or take your dog to your vet for a nail trim.  Your dog may try to take advantage of you by growling, screaming or flailing, but he may not be so bad at the vet and usually there are several people there to help trim his nails.  A groomer can usually help too.

I do not recommend sedation and “quicking”  the dog or getting the nails super short.  Some vets will knock out the dog and trim the nails until they bleed, but I think this is sad and painful.   Most dogs hobble around for a few days after they get this done because it hurts.  Imagine having all of your toenails or fingernails taken down past the quick and then having to walk on them…OUCH!  Plus this can lead to infection.

It is much kinder to trim them more often than it is to get them too short.

Long Nails Hurt Too

Super Long Nails Hurt and Distort Your Dog's Feet

Super long toe nails can cause your dog’s foot to curl up and his toes to hurt because they can no longer stretch out and touch the ground they way they are genetically intended.  This can cause an already arthritic dog to hurt even more!

In severe cases, I have even seen the toe nails curl and begin to grow into the dog’s paw pad; this can be especially painful and can cause infection and bleeding when the nail has be trimmed and removed.

Acclimate Your Dog to the Trimmers, Slowly… 

When I begin teaching my new puppies about nail trimming and the trimmers, I carry them around all the time.  When I watch TV I pretend to clip nails without ever touching the trimmers to the pup.

Go slow and keep the trimmers with you.

I even pet my dogs with the nail trimmers.  If you are going to use a dremel tool (to grind the nails down) this is a good time to turn it on click and give treats, and then touch your dog with it, click and give treats etc.

Once Your Dog is Use to the Trimmers or the Dremel it is Time to Get Started.

I recommend wearing your dog out first.  He is much less likely to fight you if he is already sleepy, so I take my dogs for a long hike or walk first and then I wait for him to get comfortable and ready to take a nap.

When he begins to doze off, I move in to trim his nails.

Although you can see the Quick with this White Nail Imagine it is Black, Whittle Slowly to Keep From Drawing Blood

#1 Tip:  Whittle

Don’t think that you only have a second to get the work done, especially if your dog’s nails are relatively long.

Most people make the mistake of cutting too close and making the dog’s nail bleed.  Instead move slowly and methodically and whittle his nails down shorter and shorter.

Whittling is the key!  Work back and forth and take tiny bits off each nail tip, don’t take huge chunks!

Most doggy nails whether they are black or if you are lucky enough to have a dog with white nails; come to a sharp tip.  You can begin by snipping off the tip and watching the middle of the nail for two dark dots.  These two dots are the beginning of the quick.

Once I see these dots appear, I know I am getting close to the quick.

This Dot will Be Black on Dogs with Black Nails

I also make sure to closely inspect each nail as I am trimming and watch it from underneath.  Sometimes you can see the hollow toe nail as you are trimming.

There is no reason to trim quickly.  Go slow and inspect each toe nail as you are trimming.

If you happen to make your dog bleed, be sure to have some “quick stop” available to stop the bleeding.  In a pinch you can also use cinnamon or flour packed onto the nail to stop the bleeding.

I think of toe nail trimming as an art, that I just have to take part in about every three weeks!  But I owe it to my dog’s to keep their feet happy and healthy!

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  1. This is a great tip! Many dog owners do not properly take care of their dogs feet and it is very bad for their feet. They are uncomfortable with long nails and it can cause them problems in the long run, so everybody take this information and trim your dog’s nails properly and keep them groomed all the time!


  2. cindy says:

    I cut My puppy’s nails, it didn’t seem like I took much off. OH no I cut too short.I got a dremel tool and we are just getting started. Getting him familiar with the tool first, I just do one nail a day.


  3. Cindy says:

    Thanks for the tip on nail cutting.The first time I trimmed my puppy’s nails I cut too much off and hurt him. Not a good start! It helps to know about the receding blood flow. Thanks!


  4. Harley Harrington says:

    Great post, it is important to remember not to call your dog to come and then put them through a tramatic experience like getting their nails trimmmed by someone who hasn’t read your informative post. Likely the next time they call come, the dog will remember the unpleasant experience.


  5. jack says:

    When cutting a dogs nail you need to be careful as there is the potential to really hurt it


  6. Pearlie says:

    and most people don’t know this but their own confidence plays a huge part in wether or not the dog will stand for having their nails done… as a groomer, I have quite a few clients who are afraid to cut their dogs’ nails, for fear of making them bleed… & their dogs pick up on this and don’t let them! I get a lot of “I can’t believe he’s just letting you clip them.”… confidence, dogs pick up on energy signals alot better than we can…



    If you are inexperienced, or unsure of how much to clip, you can buy a clipper with a nail stop. this is a small flat piece that will only let the nail be cut at about 1/8 inch at a time, and as your experience gets better it can be slid out of the way. I have lived with fur people (DOGS, CATS, ETC)all of my life, and I still use this type of clipper. If you need to take more off, you can move the guard or take multiple cuts.


  8. Your timing was great: first the article on restraining the pet and on the same day, the subject on nail trimming. My two furry critters are as thankful as I am.


  9. Victoria Lheureux says:

    My Neela (I believe is a Florida Cur), is about 3 yrs. old. I’ve had her since she was approximately 4 mths. On my way to work one morning, I witnessed a truck a good distance ahead of me, stop in the middle of the road. This person opened the door, set this puppy into the road, and drive off. Of course I couldn’t just leave her there to her own fate. The look on her face was so sad. She had no idea what had just happened. I scooped her up and took her with me. She has been a part of my family since. I am concerned though about some of her characteristics. At first, she wouldn’t let me put my face anywhere near hers. We have since overcome that fear. She refuses to let me touch her feet and if one of us (humans) lifts our feet within 5 feet of her, she goes berserk. She acts as if she’s been beaten and/or kicked. I have never disciplined her other than showing her what she did wrong and telling her in a normal voice that she did bad. How do I calm her fears?


  10. Jay says:

    This article on how to properly restrain your pet was very helpful.

    There is another way to stop the bleeding if you trim the dog’s nail to short. Unfortunately I know this from experience.

    Grab a tea bag wet it and hold it on the nail something in the tea helps to stop the bleeding usually within a couple of minutes.

    Just wanted to share a helpful tip.

    Please keep up all of your good work I read something on your website a couple of times a week.




  11. June Fletcher says:

    My nearly 14 year old pap has very trubled rear feet, one claw at the moment is turning upwards and it looks as if others will follow, I have just asked my vet to contact a specialist to find some treatment but am very anxious have you heard of this before.
    Thanks June


    Minette Reply:

    No I would definitely go to the vet for more information


  12. Laura says:

    The video for the nail trimming linked up to a 3 min video on something totally off topic. Is there a glitch in the link?


    Minette Reply:

    You have to sing up for the video vault in order to see the video


  13. Tricia says:

    This was very helpful for the grooming category of my dog know how. I have to cut my dogs nails soon and i dont have a clipper. Can you file their nails with a regular nail file? Because i have a few of those! Please give me some advice!


  14. Lisa says:

    I am boarding a dog that has been poorly maintained. On my own I took him for a bath, nail trim (thry were curling) and a shave to remove all the matt but I just noticed one of his nails is curling up to the sky. Whay would lead that to happen and is there any help for it. He is a 13 yrear old cocker spaniel.


    Minette Reply:

    It needs to be trimmed down. My guess it is from growing that way for so long…


  15. Marie says:

    My old dog has severe arthritis and and messing with her feet hurts her. Are there any suggestions to relieve the arthritis pain while tri.ming her nails?


    Minette Reply:

    Just keep them short and check into a supplement calle Dasuquin


  16. Laura says:

    This article was very insightful- it definitely helps my dogs to play with their feet and poke their toes a lot! Also, I found that my smallest guy’s reaction to foot touching is MUCH less fearful if I take off his collar! He feels like he is more free to get “away” if need-be, so he lets me get closer to those skiddish toes… of course, holding onto him is harder, but it is a good reminder not to force anything (if he does struggle and pop out of my hands). Go slow!


  17. Jade Brunet says:

    We have been asked to watch our neighbor’s dog for the summer while they are away visiting family. I was looking to learn how to groom the dog and realized that I do not know how to care for its nails. It is good to know that safety should come first in this process and if there is a possibility that the dog may bite you, it is best to muzzle the dog before hand. We will keep this in mind, thanks.


    Minette Reply:

    Using a muzzle never hurts as long as it is short term and the dog can breathe


  18. Crystal says:

    Any tips for trimming a min pins nails???
    Mine are so wriggly that it’s almost impossible to safely restrain them🤦‍♀️


    Minette Reply:

    use the search bar to find my articles on restraint. Nothing is impossible and it is less traumatic if you learn to do it and not have a stranger do it


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