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How to Cut a Small Dog’s Nails

Miniature pinscher sitting on a table getting its nails clipped

First, always use nail clippers that are specifically designed for small dogs. If you are using a regular pair of clippers, it is likely that the blades will get too close to the quick and cause injury. When cutting nails, do so in one smooth motion. Do not jerk or wiggle the clippers back and forth while trimming your pet’s nails. Doing so could cause your dog to accidentally cut himself open or catch their paw in the clipper blades.

There are always little tricks you can use when it comes to grooming your little friend. Learning these tricks can help you and your dog have a better time when it comes to trimming their nails.

One trick you can learn is to turn this tie into some positive quality time. That way your dog should enjoy getting their names trimmed and at the same time you two bond and get closer.

Take a few minutes to see how the information in the following article helps you learn some new tricks and have a better time with your pet while clipping their nails.

Need to know “How to Trim Severely Overgrown Dog Nails?” Check out our post to find out.

How Can I Cut My Little Dog’s Nails at Home

To begin, the act of allowing your dog to walk and run on hard surfaces does help to maintain their nails in some way. Not a lot, but enough that you won’t have to file their nails as frequently as other animals do.

When you start to hear those little clicks, however, it is time to take out your dog’s nail clippers and trim those little nails. It is not a difficult task, provided that your dog does not put up a fight and resists having its nails trimmed.

Hands wearing blue gloves trimming a puppy's nails

Step One: Start When They Are Still Puppies

Start when they are still young. This is the best time to cut those nails because it is easier to get the little fella used to the clippers or grinder when they are still young.

Step Two: Make Sure You Are Using the Appropriate Equipment

There are three different kinds of clippers available to you: the guillotine, the scissors, and the grinder. The grinder is favored by a great number of individuals because it is simpler to operate.

Step Three: Don’t Rush It

The third step is to slow down, have patience, and take it one paw at a time. Do not rush this process. You will want your pet to be calm, so if they start to become anxious, you will need to stop what you are doing, calm them down, and then either praise them or give them a reward before you continue.

Illustration on the proper angle to cut a dog's nails

Step Four: Do Not Cut Too Far

The fourth step is to make sure that you do not cut too deeply and that you only remove a small amount at a time. By doing so, you can avoid the trouble that would result from cutting too much off and exposing the quick.

In addition to this, it is recommended that you have assistance holding your pet. Either make use of a restraint system that is kind to your pet or ask a member of your family to take care of your dog so that you can get some work done. Then you should never become angry with your pet even if they put up a fight. The act of cutting their nails causes discomfort for many dogs.

How Do You Cut an Uncooperative Small Dog’s Nails

Close up of a blue gloved hand cutting a black dog's nail with scissor type dog nail clippers

This is a process that can be learned, and the first step is going to be as we mentioned in the earlier section. If your dog puts up resistance, you should not become angry at them. Your dog is not unusual or setting a new trend because it does not like having its nails trimmed because this is something that is disliked by dogs all over the world. They do not like it when you touch that area because it is sensitive to them.

When it comes to clipping the nails of a pet that is not cooperative, there are some steps that can be taken. Here are some to guide your effort:

Step 1: Prepare Your Dog

This process can start at a very young age for some breeds. After you bring your new pet home and settle in for about a week, you can begin to habituate your dog to the clippers, grinder, or scissor clippers by grooming him or her with them.

To begin, you will lift your dog’s paws and hold them in that position for about five seconds. Then, when doing subsequent lifts, add more time to that total. If your dog maintains their composure, you should reward them with a treat and/or verbal praise.

If your dog puts up any resistance, you need to be firm and tell them “no.” Because this is a daily activity, it might take them a week or two before they become accustomed to acting in this manner.

Pug sitting in a circular float in a swimming pool looking up at the camera

Step 2: Take Your Dog Swimming

If your dog enjoys swimming, you can either let them swim in your bathtub or in a child’s pool, etc. They will become worn out as a result, and won’t have the energy to put up a fight against you while you work.

This time spent swimming ought to calm them down and make them less likely to argue with one another or show anxious behavior. Alternately, if they are not swimmers, you can use some other activity that will tire them out.

Step 3: Get Your Cutters

This step is a little more involved as you want to take time to squeeze the clippers or run the grinder without cutting any nails. Then give your dog a reward or two so they associate the sound with something good.

After that, soak your dog’s nails so they become softer and easier to cut. You can try placing the clippers, etc., near the nails as well. Once this step is over you move on to the next…

Black and tan dachshund on a white background, having its nails trimmed

Step 4: Trim Those Nails

But make sure to do this slowly monitoring your dog’s behavior. If they get anxious then, you need to stop for a minute and calm them down.

If they remain calm, then go on to the next nail. You do not have to cut the nails on the same day. Take it slow until your dog realizes it is a good thing. If your dog refuses to stop pulling its paw away, let professional groomers handle this chore.

Does it Hurt a Dog When You Cut the Quick? Click here to find out.

How Short Can You Cut a Small Dogs Nails

Chihuahua laying on it's back on a woman's lap while having its nails trimmed

This is the difficult aspect of trimming a dog’s nails. If you cut it too short you will have wasted all that work, you did in the previous section. The dog will feel pain and not be so easy to get to sit still the next time you have to cut their nails.

You do not have to go too short. Make sure you find where the quick starts and the nail ends and cut close to that boundary as you can. It is best to take off tiny little pieces of the nail at first.

You do this as a precautionary step as you do not want to cut the quick. It is possible to leave the nail a little longer but then you would have to trim more often. It is your choice but you never want nails that click on the floor when your dog walks by.

Some Final Words

Human hand holding the paw of a dachshund to show its nails

This is something that most dogs are used to, but there are some breeds of dogs that truly despise having their nails clipped. If you persist, they may try to resist, fight back, or bite you. Take care, and make sure that you approach the situation in a level-headed manner, free of anger.

This task can also be completed over the course of two or three days.

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Please note: We are not veterinarians and you use our advice at your own discretion. We always recommend that you consult your veterinarian whenever you have health-related conditions your furbaby is facing. With that in mind, as pet parents ourselves, we wish nothing but the best for your pet and their healthy and happy lives.