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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?

Answer

Hi Ana,

Many dogs have an aversion to having their feet handled and their nails cut.

It can be extremely helpful if you were to walk your dog on a rough surface such as concrete sidewalks. Your dog's nails would be neatly trimmed naturally without any fuss or muss.

Unfortunately, there isn't a quick fix for your problem. When your dog is calmly sitting next to you, gently handle her feet and toes. If she pulls her foot away, or gets up and walks away it's okay. Let her. Just keep doing it on a daily basis, eventually she'll become a little more tolerant. Once your dog allows you to handle her feet and play with her toes (it might take months for you to get at to this point) only then should you attempt to cut a toenail. Before cutting the nail and just after give a little bit of hotdog, cheese or some other high value treat, and plenty of praise.  Just getting to this point would be a huge event, don't try to do all four feet. If she allows one or maybe two nails to be cut, that should be it for the day. Repeat this process in the days to come, until all her nails are cut. You can read more about counter-conditioning techniques of getting a dog to tolerate nail cutting here:

http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/fear-nail-tri

http://www.polandvet.com/sites/site-1402/documents/Nail%20Trims-%20dogs.pdf

http://www.clickerlessons.com/nails.htm

Another thing to try is, just before she's due to have her nails cut (either by you or by a groomer) is exercise her REALLY well and make sure she's quite tired before attempting to cut her nails. That will take a lot of the "fight" out of her, making her at least a little easier to control.

Lastly, some dogs need sedation before attempting nail cutting. This might be something to discuss with your veterinarian, if nail cutting is particularly hard on your dog.

I hope I've been a help.
Best of luck,

Patti

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Patti

Expertise

To date, I've owned 7 dogs, all of which have lived into old age. Having cared for them in all stages of life, I feel I can offer sound advice to other pet owners, and people considering getting a dog. I am knowledgeable about the AKC (American Kennel Club) dog breeds, training and exercise, caring for sick and elderly pets, feeding, as well as many holistic treatments pets can benefit from. My only request is that you write me using standard English and punctuation.

Experience

My life experience in this field is more like "on the job training" rather than an actual degree in animal welfare. You may benefit from my experiences over the past 30 years. Aside from the dogs I've owned, I'm also involved in "breed rescue" and have fostered several dogs, all of which have been adopted to wonderful "forever homes". I find helping people who want a dog very rewarding.

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Real life experience, based on over 30 years of dog ownership.

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