Dog Training/muzzle


I have a 6 lb Yorkie that is a rescue, we've had her about a year, and the vet thinks she's about 3 years old - when I take her to get her nails trimmed it's EXTREMELY traumatic for her.  they have to put a muzzle on and she jerks around, and tries to bark and bite, which is not like her at all - she NEEDS to have her nails trimmed about once a month, but it's SO traumatic that I hesitate to bring her, how can I make this situation better?

Ana, where in Texas are you located?  You need some professional in-person guidance with this and I might know of someone in your area.  The answer to this is desensitization, a process by which you introduce the stimulus at a level where the dog is comfortable (maybe holding her paw gently), then very gradually working to a level where she will accept clippers on her nail.

Every day you should gently take the dogs paw, feel all the toes, put a bit of pressure on the toe and then feed a high value tidbit of food (cooked chicken, liver, cheese).  You can introduce the clippers by showing them to the dog and feeding at the same time.  Take the clippers away, the food goes away.  You are making a positive association in the dog's mind - clippers mean great food is happening.  You should also desensitize the dog to being held in the "grooming position" while feeding.  Don't combine all of these things until the dog is very comfortable with each separate part.

You can also investigate calming remedies that contain tryptophan (ProQuiet) or l-theanine (Anxitane).  Both are OTC nutraceuticals.  Your vet could also recommend a prescription drug (like Valium) that can relax the dog before the nail trim visit.  Ideally, though, you should do this at home where the dog is most comfortable.  Learn to do this yourself and only clip 1 or 2 nails at a time.  If you can get to a point where you do this a few times a week, it will become less of an ordeal.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

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Barb Gadola, CPDT-KA, KPA CTP


I can answer questions related to problem dog behaviors, teaching polite manners, puppy raising, and any type of training-related issues. My website page, offers a wealth of information on training and behavior issues as well.


I've been training dogs since 1989 and own and operate Distinctive Dog Training LLC in Keller TX. I specialize in providing practical and positive solutions for families through personalized training in their home.

Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner
Victoria Stilwell Positively! Licensed Trainer
Association of Pet Dog Trainers
Association of Animal Behavior Professionals
Truly Dog Friendly Coalition

BS in Education
Graduate work in Behavioral Psychology
Karen Pryor Academy Dog Training Program
Certified Professional Dog Trainer

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