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Nail clipping horror

September 3rd, 2004, 09:24 PM


Hi everyone!

Sorry I haven't posted in a while, but Chewy's been keeping us VERY busy. We've had to clean the place top to bottom, and when I mean clean, I mean put everything away, because Chewy, although we were told otherwise, CHEWS LIKE CRAZY!!! We are talking 5 pairs of shoes, two remotes, one cordless phone, one pair of glasses, two books and a hat!!
We can deal with the chewing, and are dealing with her aggressive behaviour with other dogs and are getting a prong collar for her leash manners (she broke the Halti.. BROKE it!!)

The thing we can't deal with, is her behaviour when we try to clip her nails. They are getting a little long, and I know the kwik will get longer, and then it will be impossible to clip her nails short!! I bought the clippers with the guard so I don't take the whole thing off, and I got one back paw done, but now, she just nips at me and moves around like a fish. I've tried treats, gentle words, my husband massaging her, praising her, NOTHING works!!!

I don't want to resort to a muzzle and holding her down, because I think it will traumatize her. I can't take her to a store to get it done by their grooming people, because I'm afraid she'll hurt them.

What can I do? ANy thoughts?

Also, is there anything you can do about the roughness of your dog's pawpads? Does it hurt them when it's rough?

Thanks everyone!

Ruffy :eek:

Lucky Rescue
September 3rd, 2004, 09:29 PM
Many people swear by dremels! Here is a site that gives you step-by-step instructions on how to do it.

Look on the left side.

Dremel (

Or you can get your dog slowly desensitized. Get a hot dog and cut it up into very small pieces. Let you dog see/smell them. Touch a toe, then treat, and so on and so on.

I did this. My dog still hates her nails being cut, but will hold still for it cause she knows she will get a treat for each nail.

September 3rd, 2004, 11:35 PM
Before you get a prong collar, have you tried a harness? I have a husky/cattle dog x, who is BAD BAD BAD on a leash, halti etc. I got a really strong harness and it works great! It allows her to pull from her shoulders and allows me better control when pulling her back and away and she seems happier that there's nothing around her neck. :)

I've seen prong collars do alot of damage to dogs in the past :( and I personally would never use one. :)

My girl is an absolute arse when it comes to nails. My friend gently "restrains" her (my husband is scared he'll hurt her!), whilst keeping her occupied with "Benny Bullys" (a tasty dried cows liver treat), I cut a nail for a benny.
It seems like a work out, but it works without causing her trauma :)

Good luck!

September 4th, 2004, 12:37 AM
I have this problem with Loki... and I mean she is a SQUIRMER!! She doesn't bite, hasn't even tried, but she pulls her paws back and squirms so bad... I just can't get a grip!

So when she went in for her checkup this week, I asked the Vet to do it. My brother came with me... 6'4" 226 pound guy... and he, the Vet, her assistant and I couldn't keep her held down. She was so worked up after one foot that the Vet said the only way we could do it was to give her a mild sedative... she was concerned that her trauma was going to give her a heart issue... no joke!

Not sure when she became so terrified of grooming. Even the word "bath" sends her into violent shivers. To our knowledge, bathtime has never been bad... maybe she doesn't like water. I know nail clipping can sometimes be uncomfortable... but her fear is just unrealistic!

I looked at the Dremel site you listed... neat idea. The only problem I know I'll have is the sound of any kind of machinery scares Loki. She's even scared of my back massager! Vaccuum? She's gone!

Would a course nail file work do you think? I might be able to work with that and treats...

Cactus Flower
September 4th, 2004, 12:50 AM
THANK YOU for posting that "Dremel" link. That is THE single most informative website I have EVER come across regarding the use of a Dremel. The pictures are extremely helpful!!!!!!!!!

September 4th, 2004, 06:56 AM
The Dremel idea is great. I actually have one sitting doing nothing :p My dogs love the vacuum cleaner - I have to vacuum them ever time I use it - so the dremel should work on the nails. Usually I only have to produce the nail clippers to have both run of and hide. To bath them we run the vacuum cleaner outside the laundry room and they are quite happy to take their turn in the laundry tub. :D

September 4th, 2004, 08:36 AM
"I have to vacuum them ever time I use it"

Now THAT, is something I'd love to see on video!! OMG LOL!

September 4th, 2004, 09:08 AM
Babs -you should see both of them right this moment - my husband has a wood chipper working outside - and there they are helping him out - barking up a storm - hopping from one place to another. I have tried getting them in - no no avail - they just started throwing themselves at the back door. I will try and post a picture of the dogs being vacuumed - they adore it.

How do you get pictures fro picture Express to this web page? :confused:


Lucky Rescue
September 4th, 2004, 10:32 AM
Would a course nail file work do you think?

Can't see that. You would have to put a LOT of pressure to file down thick dog nails.

As for the noise of the dremel, she would need to get used to that first. Just turn it on for a second (not near her) and give her a treat. She will learn to associate the sound with treats.

Even the word "bath" sends her into violent shivers.

Loki is a pit bull, right? I think this is a pitty thing. Mine - who will happily wade into freezing streams - hits the floor like she's been shot when she knows it's bathtime. I have to heave her front end into the tub, and the whole time she stands with head hanging like she's being beaten. :p

September 4th, 2004, 10:40 AM
"I have to vacuum them ever time I use it"

Now THAT, is something I'd love to see on video!! OMG LOL!

My family has had 2 dogs that likes the vacuum... My Cody loved having his coat vacuumed... and he wouldn't leave you alone until you did it for him.

My mom's old boxer loved to fight it... she would growl and bite at the end (w/o an attachment on it) and her lips would get sicked in (not like dangerously it was only a cheap vacuum :) ) The look and sound of that was hilarious... and she just keep going at it... LOL she also used to chase the broom around when you were trying to sweep, and jump on the power brush on the vacuum. :p

My rottie is terrified of any thing related to cleaning - the vacuum (understandable), but also the broom, the mop, the duster and even the small wisk broom and dust pan :rolleyes: you'd think i make her do the cleaning or something!

September 4th, 2004, 07:00 PM
hi there. i'm new to the list and just read your post. plese don't use a prong collar. most people don't know how to use them. i am a dog trainer in london,ont and i also don't believe in haltis. someone suggested a harness but you don't want that either because you will encourage pulling (why do you think dogs that sled, weight pull or track wear a harness?) what you need to do is put a choke chain on the dog and make sure it is right up behind the ears. use treats to encourage the dog to pay attention to you. when the dog pulls just stop or turn sharply in a different direction. when the dog pays attention to you say in a very happy voice "yes" and treat. in about a week you should have a better dog. if you are in the london area i'd love for you to join my class.

Lucky Rescue
September 4th, 2004, 07:49 PM
Sorry, Mandalay, but choke collars do just that - choke - and are the cause of tracheal and other damage that is not seen with the use of a prong collar, the difference being distribution of pressure.

Of course anyone using a prong collar should get proper instruction on how to use it. You can get information on the use HERE (

A study was done to that effect and I think the numbers speak for themselves:

"A Study on Prong Collars was done in Germany:
100 dogs were in the study. 50 used choke and 50 used prong.
The dogs were studied for their entire lives. As dogs died, autopsies were performed.
Of the 50 which had chokes, 48 had injuries to the neck, trachea, or back. 2 of those were determined to be genetic. The other 46 were caused by trauma.
Of the 50 which had prongs, 2 had injuries in the neck area, 1 was determined to be genetic. 1 was caused by trauma."

Cactus Flower
September 4th, 2004, 08:09 PM
make sure it is right up behind the ears

Would that still do damage to the trachea? The way Mandalay described it, I imagined it being held as they do in the ring at dog shows- straight up. I think that position would keep it off of the trachea, wouldn't it? :confused:

Mandalay, is that what you meant?

September 5th, 2004, 01:08 PM
LR!!!! Your idea worked like a charm!! Although she wouldn't touch the hotdogs, she was really interested in my Triscuit Crackers, so I cut them up small and went to work.
I would touch the cracker to her nail, tell her what was doing, and when she wouldn't react, I'd give her the treat and I was able to cut her nail! If she'd start to squirm, I'd pull back, and she'd come back for more!!!!! It only took me about 20 minutes, and she was all trimmed!!!! Next exercise.. BATHTIME!!!

About the prong collar, I don't think I have any other option really. We are going to obedience classes, and I will not use it until I am taught how, and feel confident that I can use it properly. Choke chains are banned in class, and I think that would be harder to use than a prong collar, which, as far as I understand it, distributes even discomfort. I am constantly told that choke chains should only be use by people who know how, because they can cause serious, permanent damage. (Good info in that study though.. and quite scary) She's a neo mastiff, and I read that big dogs don't feel things the way other dogs do. I read that mastiffs' skin and body is less sensitive to pain because of the way they were bred and the purpose they used to have. THen again, this could be biased research, but I am not going into this blindly, and I don't want to hurt my dog, but she is uncontrollable on a leash, and I need to get her to get used to a leash before she outweighs me (ok, fine that will not happen.. I just like to think it... :p )
Our trainer had recommended a halti or gentle leader, so I got them both! She broke the halti, and she won't get used to the gentle leader, and it's ripping into her muzzle (she's doing this to herself, but point is, it's not working) and I feel like I have no control over her. She is oblivious to the pain she is causing herself, and isn't learning at all. I need something that will stop her, so that we can go on with the lesson! She had a harness from her rescuer, again, she just pulls harder, and I pull back, and that's counterproductive. I just want her to get good manners, and if she doesn't need the prong collar for long, I won't use it forever. I just want her to walk good on a leash, and get used to other dogs (that's ANOTHER thread though!!!). Please, please don't think me a bad person, but I have to be able to control her now, otherwise I never will, and she'll just be a tornado on a leash!!!

Thanks for reading, and helping everyone! I can always count on you guys for everything!!!


Cactus Flower
September 5th, 2004, 01:23 PM
Speaking for myself, I don't think less of you at all! Sometimes a prong collar is an effective "last resort". I've seen a few (friends') dogs train well using a prong, when nothing else worked.

Good luck with that, and congrats on the nail clipping success!

September 5th, 2004, 01:30 PM
Cactus Flower! Thanks!! You have a Dane, (who is GORGEOUS by the way!!) how did you do it? Did you have her from puppyhood?
I guess it's always easier to do it without any training tools that might hurt the dog, but his chica is 19 months, and very defiant, and feels no pain at all. She is contantly bonking her head on doors, walls, steps (i don't know either, but there she was!) and it's like nothing happened. Her muzzle will be bleeding from the gentle leader, and she's wagging like it's nothing!!
But after today's nail cutting success, I am energized with positivity!!!

Thanks again!


Cactus Flower
September 5th, 2004, 04:00 PM
Thank you!

No, I didn't have Raj when she was a puppy.

What I did will be hard to describe, but I'll do my best.

I don't know the difference in terms between "harness" and "halter". What I have for her has straps that go around the front of her chest, one runs under her chest and connects with the one that goes around her belly. It all comes together in one clasp that snaps together on top, between her shoulder blades. That's also where the leash connects. I'll call it a "harness", just for now, until someone corrects me :) .

I walked her without a leash, right up next to me. Because of her height, I was able to just loop my hand, palm down, through the harness. Sort of how someone holds a seeing-eye dog. Any time she would pull (which was PLENTY), I would "snap" (quick, solid jerk) the harness with my hand and say "hold", and stop. I would be grasping that harness with all my strength, mind you. Often I would have to repeat the snap and "hold". Enough repetition with this, and many sore arms later....... she caught on.
Now, when we walk, I just have to say "Hold, Raj" and she stops pulling. She's really quite good, though, and this rarely happens. I can walk with just two fingers looped through the harness, and she'll walk right next to me in synch with my steps, stopping when I stop, pausing when I pause.
I do always have a leash connected to the harness, so I can let the slack out when she has to go potty. But when we are walking, I hold the slack of the leash in my left hand, and hold the harness directly with my right.
I've put in so many hours training her to walk well. It's very important to me, something I'm quite strict about. So it has taken a lot of time and effort to get her this well-trained. But it's all worth it!

September 5th, 2004, 05:59 PM
other side of the fence opinion-
i use a choke chain, when i went to dog school 8 years ago it was the only one used in our school and they swore by them. so all my training has been done on choke and my girl is well behaved, well trained and we walk like normal, no pulling etc. and we use our choke only, she will not tolerate anything else due to the different noises etc of another product and is happy. i actually think prong collars are cruel, yes i know they are said to immitate the mother but i doubt that and i dont think ppl should try and physically train their dog through pinching it in the collar area, i would not like it so i wouldnt do it to anyone else., i remember them toting choke as the new wonder lead, in 5 years you will hear the same stories about the prong collar.
-nail clipping- my girl can be a bit pathetic when i do her nails too, she used to scream and carry on, but i have desensitised her to a certain extent and as long as i dont take too long about it now she is fine. restraining her or forcing her to take it is not really an ideal situation and upsetting for all involved and it wont make the problem any better just worse or make her hate it more.

here is what i did-
get your dog on the floor, put the clipper beside you. have lots of treats on hand. take the clippers and let the dog lick and sniff, give treats and praise, make the association a great thing for your dog. gently put the clippers near the paw and slightly touch the paw with them. dont cut a nial, just have nice time together with the clippers involved, the whole time praising and giving treats. leave the clippers in the room so they are always around, to be sniffed and looked at. do this over and over again, maby advancing like making the clippers clip together for sound etc, but always tell your dog how wonderful it is to have this special toy and be really happy.

what you need to do is make the clippers not such a drama, make a positive association with them, that is what gets a dog trained, positive association. forcing a dog to the ground and pinning it down for a nail clip is not really positive association to me.

when you clip the nails do one a day,first do the play thing with it, then touch the paw, then go in and clip one nail and make sure you are so happy with your dog, and let it know it, openly praise and be loving. then after one nail lots of treats.
i cant clip my dogs nails without a little encouragement but that is fine with me, it makes her happy and even if it is two nails a day it is still getting the job done without any drama or pain.

Cactus Flower
September 11th, 2004, 12:26 AM
Well I got a Dremol, and have gone back once again to the website that LR posted. Can't say enough good about that site! I have left the Dremol by her bed for a few nights, so she is familiar with it. Next I started turning it on to get her used to the noise. Then began touching each nail with it running, just for a second, followed by a treat.
Raj is really tolerant about me fiddling with her nails, so I think the only thing she really needed to get past was the noise. But anyway I've been following the advice on this website to the letter (and many of you have echoed the same suggestions).
The pictures on that site are invaluable- they leave NOTHING to the imagination. Each step is photographed, down to minute detail. So at least I won't be wondering if I'm holding the nail wrong, if the Dremol is angled wrong, etc.
Tomorrow I'll take the big plunge and begin filing! I think that I am more nervous than Raj is about it! I stocked up on chicken Vienna Sausages today (those are her treats), and I'm ready to go.

September 11th, 2004, 04:00 PM

We've had to clean the place top to bottom, and when I mean clean, I mean put everything away, because Chewy, although we were told otherwise, CHEWS LIKE CRAZY!!! We are talking 5 pairs of shoes, two remotes, one cordless phone, one pair of glasses, two books and a hat!!

As I was reading your post, it reminded me of something that was on Pet Psycic. There was a dog that chewed up everything (couches, rugs, blinds, etc.). Apparently he was doing it to settle his stomach from the fumes from her cleaning products. They were making him ill and he was looking for something to eat to settle it. She was told to clean her house from top to bottom with vinegar and water and rinse well.

Cactus Flower
September 13th, 2004, 01:59 AM
I did it! I did it I did it I did it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D :D :D

Worked like a CHARM!

I was very nervous at first, but as soon as I got comfortable with the Dremol and got the technique down, it was easy! Raj accepted all of the treats given to her after every few nails. Then we were out of treats and I still had to go back and take a bit more length off, plus shape them ( I was only taking off a bit of length each time, afraid of getting the nail too hot). Anyway, after the treats ran out, she just went to sleep as I sanded away! Oh, I'm so lucky- she is SUCH a tolerant soul!

It may have taken me forever, but I think I did ok for my first time. Next time I'll be faster, with the jitters now behind me. I didn't nick her quick even once. What a relief!
This was actually MUCH easier than clipping. You can really see what you are doing, how close you are getting to the quick (thanks to the pictures on the website, and great descriptions) as you are sanding. I can't imagine trying to use clippers again- it's the Dremol from now on!

THANK YOU once again, LuckyRescue for posting that website!