How to safely cut a pups' toe nails.
This seems to be a procedure that tends to cause much anxiety in the owner, and it is amazing how many pups and dogs will only get their nails done at a vet or groomer. If they are bad off – maybe only 3 or 4 times a year! Ouch!!! Can you imagine cutting your own toenails only 3 or 4 times a year??? The pain and discomfort of them constantly pushing into your shoes or touching a surface all the time? Don't do this to your puppy or dog! Your pups/dogs nails should be done every 2 weeks or so, unless you take it daily walking on tarmac, concrete or pavement so it can wear down its nails on its own.
If done right, it is no more complicated or painful than you clipping your own fingernails. It is when you force the clippers or cutters, or you do not trim nails often enough and they get superlong, that you are likely to cut into the quick.
Light colored dogs usually have clear, translucent or white nails and you can clearly see the pink quick inside of it. It is a bit trickier with black nails – you need to follow the curve to find the right spot to cut.
On a small puppy – use large people nail clippers. Sit down somewhere comfortable and hold the puppy under your arm [the way I showed you to safely carry your pup when you picked it up], with its back feet resting on your thighs or dangling.
With your left hand [if you are right handed] – take a front paw and gently press down on the middle of the paw – just like with a cat, this tends to spread the toes a bit. Select the first toe [index finger] and slide the nail clipper over the nail with the cutting surfaces on top and bottom of the nail, not sideways. Gently close the nail clipper and let them slide down the nail until you come to the bowed tip part. If you pay attention, you will notice that the nail clipper will need to be force-held in place to cut further up the nail, but will offer no resistance once you come beyond the quick. Cut there and move on to the next nail. Do the entire paw and then move on to the other front paw.
Most poodle puppies have their dewclaws removed [that is the thumb], but check on the inside of each front paw to make sure it had been removed or didn't grow back. Some of them when not properly removed, regenerate and grow back – usually when you don't think about it any longer. Also some breeders do not remove them at all, so be sure to check.
In order to do the back legs, shift the pup so it is belly up with its rump resting on your lap. Wrap your left arm around the rib cage, and tuck the upper part of the pup between your upper arm and torso, then pick up a hind foot and proceed [similar to holding a human baby in your arms]. If your pup is not used to being belly up and giving you a hard time about it, you need to give it belly rubs, and get him used to being picked up and held + carried belly up several times a day, so it becomes used to it and can relax while you work on it. Later as your pup gets larger, you will want to cut its nails while it is standing up, but for starters and as a confidence builder try the above positioning.
The same things apply to paw tugging. Again this is an important part of poodle grooming and a pup or dog that keeps pulling and tugging while its paws get clipped or scissored is more likely to get nipped, cut or otherwise injured than one that will submit to it. Again – if you are waiting for your groomer to train your pup to being handled, you are doing both a disservice. Getting groomed is part of poodle life and neglecting desensitizing and teaching it to be handled, is making grooming visits more stressful both for the pup and the groomer as well. Difficult to groom dogs tend to be refused after a while or passed on to other groomers, and you may end paying more for services, as it takes longer to get the pup/dog done, and rightly so. If your pup doesn't want its paws touched – you must touch them. Pick up the pup as described above and hold, touch and manipulate paws and toes. Just a minute or two each time, but several times daily at first and later at least 2-3 times each week.
While you are at it – you might as well teach it to “shake” or “give 5” which is also a great desensitizing exercise.
If the worst happens and you end up nicking your pup, take a tissue [styptic powder is very helpful but not always necessary] and apply pressure on the cut surface. It may bleed for a minute or two [or three], but is rarely a serious injury. Just keep the pup crated for a while afterward and don't let it go wallow in the dirt for a day or two when taking outside. It is not the end of the world, and your pup will forgive you. Apologize, give hugs and kisses and move on to the next nail!
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What's in Your Grooming Kit?
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