A lot of clients ask the proper way to trim their dog's nails and how frequently. I like to trim my dog's nails every week. And this is really important for training too, because if your dog's getting their nails done weekly, they're not going to build up any fear of having their feet touched. Before too long, they might even love having their nails trimmed!
So one of my tricks for teaching nail trimming is teaching the dog to play dead. Do the trick of play dead in your lap. And that way, when you handle their feet, they're not looking at what you're doing, and you can reinforce the dog being calm and relaxed while you're trimming their nails. I also find that having the dog on their back with their head away from me, that it's much easier to see where the quick is (the little pink part inside the nail) that you're not supposed to cut. From underneath, it looks like a little horseshoe. You don't want to cut that part, but you can sand down the two little sides where you can see dirt has collected.
When properly trimmed, your dog's toenails shouldn't touch the ground when they're standing still, or when they're walking. If you can hear your dog's toenails touching the ground when they're walking in your house, it's time to trim their nails. Long nails can be very painful for your dog to walk on. And because everything's connected, long nails can affect your dog's behavior. I like to use both clippers and a Dremmel to do my dog's nails. First I clip them and then I smooth them out with the Dremmel.
If your dog's quicks are too long, you can get them to move back by cutting your dog's nail. In this way, you can chase back the quick and help your dog's nails get shorter and more comfortable. I personally prefer the Dremmel for making dog's nails as short as possible because I don't trust myself with the clippers. If you only have clippers, or if your dog is still very scared of the Dremmel, I like to use this technique, which is to take off tiny little shavings of the nail at a time. I've also found that a lot of dogs prefer when you cut off little shavings rather than when you cut off a huge chunk of nail.
To Dremmel the nails, first I clip off the excess nail with the clippers. Then I sand either side of the nail from the bottom to get rid of those edges where the dirt collects underneath. I find that by holding the dog's paw firmly and adding firm pressure with the Dremmel, it's less ticklish for them. Then I take strokes moving from the bottom of the nail to the top of the nail until the nail is as short as I want it.
I'd love to hear your thoughts and any other techniques you have found to make nail trimming a pleasant experience for you and your pooch!