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How to Cut an Uncooperative Dog’s Nails

Dog looking away as it has its nails trimmed

Uncooperative dogs can present a challenge at nail trimming time. But with the right information and the right techniques, you can conquer that challenge and get those nails trimmed easily.

The key is not to harm your pet and to cut their stress level.

But when they fight you as you try to trim their nails, you may wish you didn’t have one. Dog paws can be very sensitive, and many dogs just do not like having them handled by anyone.

That preference is why they resist your efforts. They do not even have their beloved master handling their paws. It will take some effort to get those nails trimmed but only if you do it right.

There are lots of techniques you can use to make sure your uncooperative dog has its names trimmed. Take a couple of minutes to see what some of those techniques are.

Dog’s need their nails cut, but do you know how? Check out our post “How to Cut Dog Nails” to learn more.

How to Trim a Dog’s Nails When They Hate it

It takes time to trim your dog’s nails and part of that time is spent getting them used to the clippers or the grinder. There are several steps involved as not only do you have to get them used to those trimming tools, but you also need to get them used to someone touching their paws.

Step #1. Touch Your Dog’s Paws

Human hands holding a set of furry, white dog paws

One way to do this is to start petting the top of your dog’s legs. Then go down until you are petting their paws. This is not a one-time effort. You have to do this frequently, so your dog knows that nothing bad is going to happen.

Teaching your dog to shake hands is another good way to get your pet used to have their paws touched

Step #2. Introduce the Clippers or Grinder

Close up of a pair of hands using a grinder on dog nails

You do not need to use them right away. Just let your dog get used to them by having them near its paws. Let them smell the clippers or grinder, let those tools touch their paws gently, and so on.

Your goal here is to desensitize your dog to those tools. Once that is done, your dog should not be as stressed when you use them.

Step #3. Pick the Right Tool

Pair of black handled guillotine style dog nail clippers isolated on a white background

This is very important as the wrong tool will only stress out your dog and make them afraid of getting their nails clipped. Some of your options are:

  1. Nail clippers for dogs with a guard
  2. Dog nail clippers with the guillotine
  3. Sensor-equipped dog nail clippers
  4. LED-illuminated dog nail clippers
  5. Nail scissors for dogs
  6. Nail grinder for dogs

You will want the best of the one you pick. Going cheap at this stage of the nail trimming game is not recommended.

Want to know how to cut dog nail at home? Click here to learn more.

Step #4. Hold the Dog Properly

Black and white Boston Terrier having its nails clipped at the groomers

There are right and wrong ways to hold your dog. Some methods apply to cooperative dogs while others are for uncooperative dogs. You have to pick the right hold for your pet.

Just make sure you are firm but gentle and do not apply so much pressure that you hurt your pet.

Step #5. Take a Small Amount

Black pug looking at nail clippers someone is using to clip the pups nails

Until your dog gets used to having its nails trimmed. Just do a little at a time. Then cut them more frequently until your dog learns this is not such a bad thing after all.

Don’t forget to reward your pet every time they behave properly.

What to do if My Dog won’t Let Me Cut His Nails

One hand holding a dog paw while the other holds scissor style dog nail clippers

There are several options you can choose from when your dog doesn’t want its nails cut. Here are a few of those options that should not hurt your pet if applied correctly.

Use The Right Restraint Technique

You can use a blanket or towel and do the burrito method. Or you can put your arms around your pet in such a way they cannot move very far. There are different ways to restrain your pet that won’t hurt them. Even getting them to lie down on their side is effective.

Is it Better to Cut or File Dog Nails? Click here to find out.

The Drug Method

Bottle of white pills spilled over onto a blue background.

This needs to be done following the advice of your vet. It is easy to overdose your pet and this method should be used as a last resort and with extreme caution. Even dog-safe drugs can be misapplied, and your dog gets hurt.

Take a Long Walk

Dogs love to go for nice walks with their masters. This is a good way to tire your pet out so that they do not have any energy left to fight when you trim their nails.

Feed Them Some Turkey

Sliced oven roasted turkey on a black surface surrounded by salt crystals and peppercorns

There is a natural ingredient in turkey that makes people feel drowsy. It works on dogs as well so give them a nice slice of turkey before you work on their nails.

Supplements & Herbal Pills

Again, these should only be given after the vet approves and gives his or her instructions.

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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.