Dog Training: Stress-Free Nail Clipping

For many dog owners, nail-trimming can be one of the most stressful parts of grooming. If you’ve ever cut the quick, your dog probably doesn’t trust you with that clipper. But nail-clipping has to be done; overgrown nails on a dog can lead to foot damage and joint issues if left long enough. So how do you get your dog to enjoy (OK, at least tolerate) getting his nails trimmed? The answer is to use positive reinforcement training. By pairing something scary (cutting the nails) with something good (treats! praise!) your dog can learn to sit quietly while you quickly and painlessly trim his nails.

The steps outlined below will work more quickly with a dog that does not have a strong negative association with getting his nails clipped, but with patience and commitment, even dogs who cower at the sight of a clipper can learn to tolerate clipping.

Step 1: Preparation

Make sure you have a pair of clippers that are meant for dog nails, are sharp, and easy for you to use. The proper tools will make the actual job go much more quickly, putting less stress on you and the dog. Decide on a cue word that you will use when clipping your dog’s nails, such as “clip”. This allows your dog to know what is coming and do as you ask. You will also need treats, especially for the first few times while you are actually teaching the dog your expectations. Once the dog has learned what is expected of him, you can probably phase out the food and use praise exclusively. Finally, get familiar with nail-clipping. Maybe this means asking your vet for tips, or practicing on your friend’s very calm dog. You can also use dog nail grinding tool.

Step 2: Paw Manipulation

Your dog needs to learn that getting his paws handled is no big deal. Whenever he and you are relaxing, start by touching your dog’s paw lightly. Do it several times a day with each of his paws. Once your dog is comfortable with light touching, increase the amount of time or manipulation in small increments. Don’t rush the process; you want your dog to adopt a “whatever” attitude about getting his paws handled. The goal is to be able to manipulate your dog’s paw for up to 30 seconds, putting fingers between his toes, touching his nails, and moving his foot into different positions. He should allow this to happen without pulling his paw away or biting at your hand.

Step 3: Body Position

Depending on the size and temperament of your dog, you want to figure out the ideal body position for nail-clipping. Our Newfie was trained to lay on his side while getting his nails done so that we could reach all four feet, which would work well with dogs of any size. You could train this behavior, or simply “capture” it by sitting next to your dog when he is laying down and petting/praising him in the position. If he gets up, you stop the petting. Many dogs will allow you to manipulate them into this position, but make sure to keep it positive. You want him to want to lay down for you, not feel as though he’s getting forced into that position.

Step 4: Clipper Desensitization

Based on your dog’s previous experience with nail-clipping, this step may take a very short or a very long time. If your dog is scared of the clippers, you may need to start by simply giving the dog a treat whenever he approaches you with the tool in your hand. If your dog is already neutral about the clippers, ask him to get into position. Give the verbal cue, and manipulate one paw with one hand while holding the clippers in the other. Give him a treat if he allows this to happen. Sitting up or licking your hand is OK, as long as he allows the manipulation and doesn’t pull his paw away. Finally, give the verbal cue, touch the clipper to his paw, and reward with a treat. He doesn’t have to completely ignore what you are doing, but he should allow it all to happen.

Step 5: Time to Clip!

At this point, your dog should understand that he is supposed to sit or lay down and hold still while you manipulate his paws. It’s time to start clipping! Start by giving him a treat for every nail you clip. Give the cue, clip a nail, and reward with treat and praise. If he seems OK with it, try doing two at a time, or doing the whole paw and then rewarding. Your dog may get antsy and decide he’s done after one paw. At this stage, that is OK. Allow him to get up, walk it off, and then ask him again to get back into position. Give lots of praise and treats. You may only get one or two paws at a time for the first few sessions, but keep practicing. Its better for the process to take a little longer with a willing dog, than to have the stress of a wrestling match between an anxious dog and a nervous owner.

Training your dog to allow nail-clipping can be a time-consuming process, but the benefits are more than worth it. This kind of training eliminates stress, both yours and your dog’s, and also builds trust between the two of you. By putting in the work, you can actually save time in the long run by having a dog that willingly cooperates with nail-trims.

Sources: Personal Experience

Coping with Dog Drool

You know that your dog drools quite a bit. The drooling from your dog is enough to make you sick, but you know he cannot help it. I know my English Mastiff is a never ending drool machine and I had to learn how to deal with that. Now granted I knew that they drooled quite a bit before I purchased him, but you might not realize that your dog will drool until he gets older. Here are different methods that I have been using to help control the drool.
The first method that I have used to handle his drool is following him around with paper towels after he gets done drinking. My dog mainly drools when he is drinking and it will come down in great big drops so it is rather disgusting and makes the floor very slick. So now he will stand next to his water bowl if we are in the same room with him and wait for us to wipe off his face.

The second method that I have taught my dog to handle the drool is when we are not around and he gets a drink we have him put his head over his food bowl. Now I know that he doesn’t do this all of the time, but he does do it most of the time. This really helps out if your able to teach your dog this because then you will not have as much drool on your floor to slip on.

Now the third method that I am still working on is tapping him on his nose to get him to lap up his own drool., I know that it is possible to teach your dog to do that because I trained one of my older dogs to do that. This is actually the best solution if your able to train him to do that because then you will not have to worry about him leaving drool all over your floor or getting the drool into his food bowl for you to have to wipe out before feeding him.

Your dogs drool can be a disgusting habit that your dog has. Sometimes your dog will outgrow his drooling problem. However, if he doesn’t then you will want to try some of the methods that I outlined above. I know that these methods help control my dogs drooling problem which gets even worse when he drinks, so you will want to try to keep an eye on him while your dog drinks.

What Every Dog Owner Should Know About First Aid

Dog owners hope one thing that they’ll never need is a first aid kit for their beloved friend. If something should ever happen to your dog, stay calm, don’t ever panic and assess the situation slowly and take a good look at just how serious your dog’s injury actually is.
If the injury is more than superficial, and it is serious, a fast and accurate response is much needed. Your goals are to save life, prevent or lessen the pain and ultimately stop the situation from getting any worse. With all of this in mind, you will need to:

Get yourself and your dog out of any unseen future danger. This means, if your dog got hit in the middle of the road, don’t try to help your dog in the middle of the road. Move to a safer location.

Check your dog’s responses. Does it respond to your touch? Does it respond to your voice? Can your dog even move? Does your dog’s eyes open and close?

Make sure the airways are free. Sometimes a dog’s life can be lost by a blockage of the airways. Is there a blockage in the throat? Is the tongue preventing your dog from receiving air? If yes, try to unblock this passage.

Is your dog breathing? Not only take a visual observation to see if your dog is breathing, but touch it. Feel to see if it is inhaling and exhaling. CPR may be required if your dog is not breathing.

Check for a pulse. A pulse can be located in the gums of your dog to see if blood is circulating properly. Again, CPR will be needed to be done if there is not any evidence of blood circulating.

In thr Dog Owners Home Vet Handbook by Debra M. Eldredge, these points below are commonly known in all pets as DR ABC.

With any life, time is of the up most importance. You will need to take any seriously hurt dog to your local veterinary hospital asap.Incidents that are more minute, in most cases can be handled by yourself with the right material. These occurrences could include but not limited to such things as wounds from other dogs like bites, insect stings, and very small wounds. Mostly all dog first aid is simply common sense. If you have to question your ability to treat your dog, get the dog to the vet immediately.

A easy at home first aid kit for your dog should be readily available at all times and even be taken in the automobile if the dog travels with you. A muzzle is a much needed item that should required in this kit. A dog who is normally gentle and loving by nature, when in a threatening situation or in severe pain, could viciously attack anyone even its owner. Claw cutters, h2O, tweezers and scissors are also needed. These will assist in cutting the fur around the wound and possibly aid in the removal of any tiny items such as a rock. Bandages, wrap, tape, sterile swabs, cleaning wipes and stretch bandages may be required after you have throughly cleaned and disinfected the injury. Other useful items would be a blanket, gloves and a thermometer.

In any situation that requires first aid, remain calm, act smart, confident and stay quiet. If you freak out, this could easily result in the dog becoming more scared and escalating the problem. Absolutely always get in touch with a vet if there is any trauma or if you have doubt.

Resource (book) Dog Owners Home Vet Handbook by Debra M. Eldredge