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Taking care of your dog or puppy’s nails is just another aspect of caring for your pet. However, compared to ear cleaning, bathing and brushing, many people have a particularly difficult time with the “canine pedicure.”

A surprising number of dogs or puppies are very uncomfortable with having their nails trimmed and there are some who get so hysterical about it, it practically can’t be done at all. Some people end up having to bring their dog to the vet or groomer every time, and a small number find that even their pet professional is not able to accomplish this without sedating their pet.

One of the things you can do to avoid this problem is to socialize your dog or puppy with having his paws and nails touched on a regular basis, perhaps during belly rubs or other pleasant interactions.

Socialization with the clipper itself can also help, as many dogs react to the sound of it more  than the actual sensation. Try keeping the nail clipper visible to your dog on a regular basis, and find ways to make positive associations with it and its sound.

For example, whenever you give your dog a treat, have him “sit” and “stay,” and then hold up the nail clipper, click it a few times to make the noise, praise your dog for staying and then give the treat.

Obedience training also plays a role in nail trimming. By working on some basic commands  you can earn your dog’s respect so he doesn’t feel like it’s okay to nip at the clipper, roll around while you’re saying “stay,” etc.

When doing the actual trimming, it’s extremely important to make sure your dog doesn’t have a bad experience. Inside your dog’s nail, there is a “quick,” which is a living part of the dog’s body. If that part is clipped, it will hurt your dog, bleed quite a bit and may take quite some time to stop.

For dogs with white nails, it’s easy to see the quick because it’s pink. Be sure to trim only the white/clear part of the nail.

Black nails can be more difficult. Try this trick: Have another person shine a flashlight directly on the nail… sometimes you’ll be able to see the quick even in a black nail.

If the quick is not visible, it’s better to err on the side of caution. Trim only the very tip of the nail, with your goal being to shorten it just a bit, not to shorten it as much as it needs to be.

When dogs’ nails grow long, the quick grows long as well. For dogs who haven’t had their nails trimmed frequently enough, you will need to trim just the tip every week or two, which will cause the quick to gradually move back. Over time, you’ll eventually be able to get your dog’s nails to a healthy length.

Another thing that can help keep dogs’ nails in check is to walk regularly on a concrete surface. While this in itself is not going to completely keep the nails healthy, it can help to keep them filed a bit.

It may be a bit of an ongoing process, but eventually most dogs will be able to have their nails trimmed without “trauma.” It’s important for his health because too long nails can cause pain in the toes and extremely long ones can lead to serious health problems in the paws.