Puppy Grooming - Clipping Nails

by Peggy Helming

To begin with, your puppy has had his toenails trimmed 9-10 times, yes folks, once a week from birth until you took him home. This should continue weekly for the life of your pup. From birth until 10 weeks we used human toenail clippers. From 10 weeks to 4 months we use human toenail clippers. From 4 months on we use regular dog nail clippers. Make sure your blades are sharp for quick, safe cutting. We replace ours often! In addition, your puppy was bathed and dried before he went to the vet's office for his final checkup. Your puppy has also become accustomed to being handled many times by various people throughout the daily chores.

To continue this training we recommend you brush your puppy daily. Don't worry, we're not talking about all out grooming. A slicker brush will do quite nicely. Make sure you have all your tools handy before you start. Although we prefer to use a grooming table (it saves your back), you may lie down on the floor with your pup and speak in a calm soothing voice while petting or rubbing his tummy. Once the pup settles down, gently begin brushing with the slicker brush. Don't push too hard as the fine teeth can scratch the skin. Remember to be especially gentle when brushing the hair on the inside of the rear legs and tummy. After the slicker, use a stainless steel comb and go over the pup completely. The comb will get in all the nooks and crannies. In the beginning these sessions should only last a couple of minutes, ending with big hugs and a cookie. Gradually increase the amount of time you spend brushing.

At the end of each session, stop brushing but continue to talk and pet. Gently pick up each foot and rub and gently squeeze each pad on each foot. At the end of a week, have someone pet the pup, while you talk and carefully trim the nails. Start by just clipping off a little at a time and "shave" each nail until you see the "half- moon" of healthy nail tissue. We always have the styptic (powdered form) ready just in case we cut the nail too short and nick the blood vessel that runs inside the nail ("quick"). Should you "quick" the pup don't panic, you will only instill your fear in the pup. Speak in a soothing voice while dipping the nail in the styptic. Once your pup settles down, tell him what a good boy he is. Don't forget the hugs and cookies. Small cookies - remember, a growing pup is always watching his weight.

By using this system, we've found that we've actually taught the pup several things. First is down. If you tell the pup down each time you start a session, before too long, they've learned what the word means. Because it's associated with wonderful petting and cookies, they learn it quick. Second is that they can trust you to help the "hurt" feel better. They don't realize that you're the one that "quicked" them, only that you hugged and loved them to make them feel better.

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