A dog’s nails grow continuously. In the wild, or with working dogs, the nails naturally wear down by traveling and working on different terrain. However, with dogs who enjoy the good life with a loving family, the softer environment of rugs, floors or backyards do not provide an opportunity for dogs to naturally keep nails worn enough to prevent overgrowth. As a result, dogs kept in the home environment are at risk for lengthy and sharp nails.
If left uncared for a dog’s nails can grow too long. Nails that are too long can tear, break and even get caught on materials that can cause injury to the nail and paw risking injury and a visit to the vet. Additionally, long sharp nails can cause injury to owners when eager dogs jump up to greet or play.
Until now only a few traditional trimming methods were available, nail clippers or dremels (grinders). Neither of these is without stress or possible injury to your dog.
The nail clipper method, while in the hands of a cooperative dog and an experienced groomer has proven to be an adequate method for trimming nails is not without risks.
There are risks associated with these devices such as when a clipper nicks the quick, causing bleeding. The clipper can cause pressure to the nail so the dog pulls the paw away. Once the dog experiences pain, fear of the nail clipper creates new challenges with future nail trimming.
Dremels (Grinders) are another option for maintaining the dog’s nails. This device is a way to gradually reduce the nail, file it to a smooth surface and maintain appropriate length. The challenge is to train the dog to accept the tool, its vibration, and pressure. Many dogs are afraid of the dremel, and seldom like their paws held long enough for the completion of the trim for all four paws.
Regardless of the method to trim nails it is essential to avoid trimming too short and cutting the quick. Trimming a totally black nail has an increased risk because it is difficult to know how close the quick is to the end of the toenail. Once a nail is cut to the quick, the dog remembers the experience and subsequent nail trimming can be a stressful experience for both the dog and the owner.
A new device is being introduced to the pet grooming market: Puppy Pedicure. This is a device that teaches the dog to use an abrasive surface to file both the front nails and hind nails at the same time.
The device, when used minutes once or twice per day files the dog’s nails on two abrasive surfaces: one for the front feet, and the other for the hind feet.
Here’s how it works: the dog is trained to stand on the abrasive surfaced ramp and use the front paws to spin the abrasive surfaced wheel. When the dog spins the wheel, he balances with his hind feet and the nails on the hind feet are filed at the same time. The ramp and wheel are designed at angles that when the dog makes contact, the nails are filed to smooth and shorten the nails to a natural length. By using the Puppy Pedicure the dog’s nails remain trimmed and neat.
Training the dog to use Puppy Pedicure is as simple as teaching the dog to look for a treat.
First, the dog is taught to stand on the abrasive ramp. This is accomplished by calling the dog to the ramp and offering a favorite reward for standing on the ramp with all four feet. The next step is to throw the treat away from the ramp, and then call the dog back to the ramp with a reward for standing on the ramp. Give this standing behavior a word that is not used for other behaviors. In this case, use a word such as “trim” or “pedicure” or “nails” so the dog responds to a specific command.
Next, once the dog is secure with standing on the ramp, teach the dog to spin the wheel. Be patient, this may take a few tries. First place a treat on the top of the wheel so he will eat the treat from the wheel. Do this several times so the dog gets the idea that when he stands on the ramp, there are treats on the wheel. Next, spin the wheel so the dog gets the idea that the wheel turns. Next, hide the treat behind the wheel so the dog has to “search” for the treat.
Some dogs will automatically search for the treat by using a paw to “reach” to find it, others may need the owner to place a paw on the wheel and reward the paw on the wheel with a treat. Once the dog places the paw on the wheel, give the reward. Do this several times, and then move the reward lower behind the wheel to encourage the dog to “reach” for the treat. Once the dog gets the idea that spinning the wheel is the game, delay the treat for a second or two to encourage the dog to spin the wheel with the left, then right paw.
Once the dog has the idea of spinning the wheel, delay the reward and create increased action with the hind feet as the dog becomes more engaged in the “game”. At this time, the dog is using the Puppy Pedicure to trim all four feet: Two on the wheel and two on the ramp. For increased filing on the hind feet, toss treats away from the Puppy Pedicure and ask the dog to return to the ramp. Each time the dog returns to the ramp, the abrasive surface interacts with the dog’s nails and assures the trimming action.