How To Cut A Dog’s Nails Without Harming The Dog

One of the most frequent requests we receive is from readers wanting to learn how to cut a dog’s nails without harming the dog. The primary concern of most dog parents is the fear of clipping too short and causing the dog to have pain and ultimately, to bleed. I know all about that because I was one of those dog moms who longed to have the ability to trim my dog’s nails. After all, cutting a dog’s nails at home saves money and a trip to the groomer or vet’s office.

For two years, I’ve been grooming my own dog, a Cocker Spaniel. Part of my education included learning to cut my dog’s nails, which scared me to death. It’s very important to keep a dog’s nails trimmed to an appropriate length and not expose the quick, the part that is rich in blood vessels and nerves. Long nails can cause a dog to limp, have an improper gait which can harm other body parts, and they can snag on things. Imagine trying to run around in high heels: That is sort of what overgrown dog nails feel like.

Learn how to trim your dog's nails without fear

How You Can Learn To Trim Your Dog’s Nails

I shared my experience with learning to clip my dog’s nails at home in a special blog post on the topic. One of the very first people I learned from, who actually taught me the proper technique for both me AND the dog is Dr. Julie Buzby. She showed me up close and personal what tools to use, what to have on hand, and how to keep my dog feeling less stressed. All of these are important components in becoming a pro at trimming your dog’s nails. If I can do it, being the fraidy cat I was, so can you. I’ve got your back on this.

When I learned Dr. Buzby was offering an at-home course with step-by-step videos, documents, images, and more, I knew Fidose of Reality readers would benefit. In exchange for an honest review of the program, Dr. Buzby agreed to give one home study program away of her entire nail course (ARV $129) PLUS a dog nail trimming kit valued at $45.

Dexter and I walked through the course just for good measure, and here’s what we learned.

massage a dog's paw

Fear Free Tips to Cut a Dog’s Nails

There is nothing worse you can do to your dog than force him into a position and scold him for not cooperating. Gone are the days of being the forceful owner who induces stress and anxiety on the dog. Patience, conditioning, and positivity are what make for a pleasant nail trimming session, and Dr. Buzby follows this mantra, too.

Beyond the cost savings, trimming your dog’s nails:

  • Allows for a bonding session between you and your dog
  • Improves your dog’s gait and posture
  • Gives you a skill that you keep for life
  • Allows you to do it where and when you want

My biggest fear was harming Dexter. I didn’t want him to bleed or feel pain because dogs tend to remember these things. Dr. Buzby’s goes slow, with very up close and detailed instructions on how to trim dog nails. What I learned from her is that I was holding the clippers wrong and that the best clippers to use were not the ones I had in my possession.

Long before I ever attempted to trim Dexter’s nails, I handled his feet, paws, and nails. At night when watching television, Dex would curl up next to me. At this point, the massage began: on the tops of his feet, petting his legs, and telling him in a gentle voice what a good boy he is. If your dog never has his nails trimmed by you and then the process suddenly begins, he may feel nervous or alarmed.

I am being upfront and sharing a (fi) dose of reality here: I practiced on wooden cuticle sticks for months after that. I wanted to perfect my technique. Even when I began clipping the dog’s nails, I did so only with one nail. I allowed his groomer to continue clipping them until I felt comfortable. You should never rush into this nor do something you aren’t 100% confident in attempting. Again, slow and steady wins this race.

Dog mom doing nail care on Cocker Spaniel

Videos To Learn Dog Nail Trimming

I went face-to-face with Dr. Buzby at a pet industry conference. She was kind enough to show me how to trim my dog’s nails in person. Since I can’t send Dr. Buzby directly to your house, she developed her home course as the next best thing to being there.

Since Dr. Buzby has a calming presence and has a relaxed teaching style, any dog parent will feel right at home following the course. I watched through the videos on my laptop, and I would recommend having the laptop or tablet, phone, etc ready when you are going to try your first trim on one nail. That’s right: one nail. Don’t overwhelm yourself; one nail is doable.

Many dog parents believe that one quick clip of the dog’s nail and hoping for success is the way to go. That was my old thinking, too. Dr. Buzby enlightened me with the proper technique and number of short strokes to use with the right clippers. There’s a certain way to hold the clippers as well, and you can pause, watch, pause, watch, as she works magic.

In my experience, I want my dog to be accustomed to seeing the nail clippers. Dexter tends to freak out over sudden sounds. I did not want to stun him with the clip sound. We followed up our doggy paw and leg massages with letting Dex see the clippers, listen to the sound, and then I’d reward him with a treat. I never even placed the nail clippers anywhere near his paws.

clip your dog's nails regularly

Fast Facts About Dog Nail Clipping

Learning to cut a dog’s nails is a lot like getting them used to riding in a car. You need to take slow, steady, baby steps, even if that means it takes a month or more to perfect the technique.

Throughout all of this, I never once yelled at Dexter, scolded him, nor raised my voice. I want my dog to think positively of me and never with fear.

Something that Dr. Buzby does in her videos which inspired me is this: I combined paw handling with the feel of the clippers on my dog’s paw. I didn’t clip, I simply put the clippers near Dexter’s paws and nails, soothed him, and rewarded for good behavior.

I firmly believe that dogs sense our stress, so I won’t stress for or because of him.

Multiple dog households, learning to clip dog nails on your own is worth its weight in biscuits.

learning to clip a dog's nails with clippers

How To Trim Dog Nails Without Fear

I recommend Dr. Buzby’s video course because it is easy to follow, simple to understand, geared for any age of dog, and she goes through problem areas, too, like:

  • How to trim light nails, dark nails, puppy nails, and more
  • How to find the perfect position (for us, it’s on a grooming table, but your dog’s comfort zone may be different)
  • What tools are best to use

I am a visual learner, so seeing how to do something and coupling it with the right tools is essential for me. If you are a hands-on learner, this course is for you, too. You can follow along with your set of clippers and just “air practice” in the same way someone does “air guitar.” You may laugh, but get back to me when you are air clipping. I encourage it!

nail trimming on a dog statistics

Is It Worth It?

Wholeheartedly, yes, this course is worth it. One of the biggest takeaways is to make this a positive experience for the dog. Dr. Buzby is very hands-on also, and she makes herself available for any questions you may have as you work through the course. Having the videos for reference whenever you need them or as a refresher makes the investment well worth it. Since Dr. Buzby invented Toe Grips for dogs, she’s a pro who dedicates her life to proper paw and nail care for dogs. She is also available through help@toegrips.com for questions pertaining to the material for paid students.

Purchase Your Own Dog Nail Trimming Course

Dr. Buzby’s DIY Dog Master Course: Nail Trimming Without Fear is available for purchase here.

dog nail care system

Enter to Win A Complete Course And Nail Kit

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GIVEAWAY CLOSED AND THE WINNER IS Cheryl Chervitz

We want to give one lucky Fidose of Reality fan their very own Dr. Buzby Free-Free Nail Course and gift, valued at $174. You will receive the entire course plus the dog nail trimming kit, as seen below. Just scroll down to the form and follow the easy instructions to enter. There are multiple ways to enter. USA only, please. Must be 18 or older. No purchase necessary.

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Comments

  1. I have been clipping my girls nails everytime I groom them. Sometimes they are great about it other times they are not so we skip it and come back to it another time. I would love to have the vidio to make sure i am doing it correctly.

  2. Great giveaway. I have 2 rescue dogs that have awful nails. I have been working a long time to get them back into decent condition

  3. This would be a great addition for my pups. TyLee is great with nail trimming but my Oakley is More of a challenge. I frequently trim 1 or 2 nails a session and reward and praise. I’m hoping I could learn techniques to make this a smoother process

  4. I have two rescue dogs, Jasper and Brandy They are German Shorthaired pointers and they would benefit from this prize!

  5. I would love to have this for my cocker spaniel Dafne and a little one that will be joining our family very soon!

  6. First, Dexter is gorgeous! I felt the urge to reach through my computer to hug him. 🙂 I have a Pug, Flannigan. He hates having his nails done so I usually take him to the groomer to do the deed. I would prefer doing this at home, but he is so resistant ….but then he also hates having his ears cleaned and his face washed. I do these at home and give him a treat when we are finished.

  7. my oldest would benefit from this because she is literally terrified to get her nails done. she has to be sedated 99% of the time. she was fine til i had a previous vet clip her nails and since then she has been terrible. they must have cut her nail so short that it hurt her.

  8. I would love to see the video the show me in and I could be confident with the instrument that I would not cut the quick and cause them to bleed and in Yelp.. Trish and Spencer would be ever so happy too..

  9. This would be amazing! I can only clip a couple of Bennett’s nails at a time, then he gets too fidgety.

  10. I educate myself out of clients all the time, nail trimming doesn’t stress me out. But that’s cats! Many of my clients ask me if I’ll do their dogs too. I can’t do it. The dogs don’t know me and usually they’re wild. I’ll tell them to check this out.

  11. I’ve wanted to learn this for a long time, mostly for avoiding the inconvenience of frequent trips to the groomer. My little jackapoo Mocha will benefit from this.

  12. My one dog is the one I would want to try this with. Her name is Mary and she’s a German Shepherd. I got her at almost seven and she’s horrible for baths, so I haven’t tried to do her nails yet. Thanks for this opportunity.

  13. How inspiring to have a course people can invest in to make sure their dogs get the best care. I have a lot of scare issues when trying to trim Harvey’s nails. C’mon Dr Buzy how about a cat course 😉

  14. Nelly and Sophie would benefit from this course, and of course, all my future dogs. However, Theo was so traumatized before we adopted him, that he will probably always go to the vet. They still have him wear a muzzle for nail trims, but he doesn’t freak out like he used to. It is my understanding it is a two-person job. One person holds him and trims his nails, while the other person feeds him baby food.

  15. This would be wonderful for my dogs, Junebug, Cain and Whitley. I always fear cutting to much and the bleeding. I have been trimming my guys nails for years, but I could use more advice and better tools.

  16. We have two dogs, one that tolerates trimming his nails. And the other is deathly afraid of the sight of the nail trimmer! I tried taking them to the vet for nail trims and it’s more stressful than it’s worth.

  17. My boy Darby has to be seriously drugged to get anywhere near his nails. I’d really like to work on a calm, fear free, balance with him.

  18. My chihuahua Zoe would benefit from this, so would I! She hates, HATES going to get her nails trimmed but i am so nervous doing it myself because she has both light and dark nails. I feel more confident trimming her white nails because you can kind of see where to cut, but not on the black nails, I feel like I am cutting blind there. I would love to be able to do her nails at home with both of us calm and peaceful.

  19. Our dog’s name is Odin. He is a senior boy ad we have had the vet trim his nail since Odin went blind. I am afraid to do it now :/ I think by actually learning how to do it right, I won be afraid and neither would Odin. You are right they can and do sense stress.

  20. Thank you very much for sharing this helpful information. This article is worth sharing. This great information which is definitely going to help us dog lovers.

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