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Inventive Ways to Avoid Having To Trim Your Dog’s Nails

Written by: Scott H
Scott Haiduc is the Director of Publishing for iHeartDogs, iHeartCats and The Hero Company. When not working, Scott spends his time on the farm, taking care of his animals and crops.Read more
| Published on July 12, 2014

If you have a dog that does not like to have his nails trimmed, you may start dreading the chore just as much as he does. Dogs that are sensitive to being touched; don’t like the pressure of the clipper; the noise of a dremel, etc.; can be almost impossible to nail trim. In fact, some owners have to resort to taking their dog to the vet to be sedated in order to keep their nails down.

It is vital that your dog’s nails be kept short. It can affect the way they walk, including their entire skeletal structure, not to mention the pain and possible infections of an overgrown or in-grown nail.

For these dogs, it can sometimes make life easier for everyone if you can avoid nail trims all together, or at least stretch out how often they need one (especially if you have to pay the vet to do it and your dog has to be sedated each time, which is not healthy for your dog either).

Ways to File Those Nails Down Naturally

The easiest, stress-free way to keep those nails filed down is “naturally.” This happens when your dog is walking or running on rough surfaces enough to keep the nails short. When my puppy went to dog daycare 5 days a week, I never had to trim his nails because he was running on their rough surface enough to keep them worn down.

Here are a few “unique” ways to wear down those nails:

  • Agility practice – those contacts are like sand paper and perfect for filing nails.
  • Jogging on hard surface – get your exercise and wear down those nails at the same time.
  • Biking on hard surface – If you can’t run with your dog, this is a good alternative.
  • Daily walks – make sure your daily walks include rough surfaces.
  • Treadmill – another way to wear down those nails and get exercise.
  • Have a Digger? – Give her a place to dig with hard, rough material that will wear done those front nails. Reward her for digging there.
  • Nail File – if your dog is fine with handling but not with the trimmers or dremel, just use an old-fashioned emery board every other day.
  • Scratch Mat – Teach your dog to scratch his front and back legs on a textured surface mat. It might take some time, but might be less stressful on your dog. Below is a video that Pamela Johnson, CPDT-KA did to show you how to teach your dog this useful trick!

What I don’t recommend is playing fetch, Frisbee, etc., on a hard surface to wear down your dog’s nails. Your dog could end up badly injured. Hard stops, sudden turns, and running full speed (as opposed to a jog) can cause injuries to joints, muscles, bones, and can tear your dogs pads.

About the Author

Based in Tustin, Calif., animal lover Kristina N. Lotz is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA) and works as a full time trainer. She also owns her own custom pet products company, A Fairytail House, where she makes personalized collars, leashes, beds, keepsake pillows and blankets, and anything else your imagine can think up. In her spare time, she trains and competes in herding, agility, obedience, rally, and conformation with her Shetland Sheepdogs. She smartly married a Veterinary Technician, who helps keep the fur kids happy and healthy, and provides a quick resource for articles.

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