How to Cut an Uncooperative Dog’s Nails

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If you have an uncooperative dog, cutting his nails can be a challenge. Some dogs never enjoy going to the groomer, but that doesn’t mean you couldn’t try to take care of their nails at home. This blog post will take you through the steps of how to cut an uncooperative dog’s nails.

Tip #1: Use a grooming kit

Guzekier Pet Dog Grooming Hammock Harness for Cats & Dogs,

You may benefit from the grooming kit that can help hold and comfort a nervous or uncooperative dog. Keeping your dog calm is the key to easier nail clipping. Just make sure that the kit is made for the correct size and weight. The kit comes with hanging

Cutting dogs’ nails is an extremely careful process. You could easily hurt your pup by going overboard. That will cause your dog to associate the nail trimming experience with fear and pain.

As a result, your dog will be very fearful and uncooperative when you try to cut his nails the next time. That’s why you need to turn nail trimming into an experience that will be positive for your dog.

How to Cut an Uncooperative Dog’s Nails

How to Cut an Uncooperative Dog’s Nails

Let’s start with my next best tips:

Tip #2. Use a dog scissor nail trimmer

Our first tip is to use a scissor type nail trimmer. This gives you more control because it doesn’t move as much as other types of nail trimmers.

Tip #3: Use a dog sling

Guzekier Pet Dog Grooming Hammock Harness for Large Dogs, Dog

A dog sling can be the key to a calmer dog when it comes to cutting nails and grooming. Especially for larger breeds.

Tip #4: Use a net

You can use a net, such as a wide net stocking, over your dog’s paw to pull back all the hairs. This also helps you see and cut their nails without pulling on any hairs. Pulling on hairs could hurt your dog, like a little pinch, but some dogs will associate nail clipping with getting hurt.

Cutting a dog’s nails should be done with great care, patience, and likable rewards. You are advised to use nail clippers that are lightweight, quiet, and easy to clean to keep your furry friend calm throughout the process.

Keep reading to find out how to cut an uncooperative dog’s nails in a few simple steps.

Step 1: Prepare Your Dog

Do not start trimming the nails right away. First, you need to get your dog familiarized with the entire process to make it less stressful. That means you should get them used to handling.

Choose the right time: Let’s face it, most dogs hate nail trims. You should therefore cut your dog’s nails when they’re relaxing. Before you approach your dog for paw handling, wait until he’s lounging.

Paw handling: Hold and lift the paws of your dog by touching them gently. Begin with very short periods (like 5-10 seconds) and then prolong it gradually to half a minute. If your dog does not resist or pull away, start to massage the paws and press on the nails gently. Repeat this exercise multiple times a day.

Praises and rewards: Shower your dog with nice words and rewards if he is calm whilst you’re holding his paws. Do this every day since repetition is the only way to get the dog accustomed.

Take a firm stance if necessary: This is important for dogs that grow aggressive while holding their toes. To restrain your dog, place your hands around the dog’s neck and say: “No!” Use an authoritative, steady tone.

Step 2: Soften His Nails

Swimming is not only a good stress-reliever, but it can make your dog’s nails softer. If you don’t have a pool, you can use the tub for this purpose.

Always coordinate bath time with nail clipping. Bathing dogs in lukewarm water can make it easier for pet owners to trim their nails. This is useful for dogs with sore nails in particular.

Step 3: Choose the Right Tool

Once your dog becomes tolerant and compliant, you can start to cut his nails. Be sure to use nail clippers that are specially designed for dogs. Never use human clippers because they cause pain and injury by squishing the dog’s nails.

Dog nail clippers and trimmers come in different shapes and sizes. The scissors-type and U-shaped trimmers (guillotine) are most commonly used. You will find the scissor type ones are better for uncooperative dogs because it requires less movement to cut.

Step 4: Trim Your Dog’s Nails

Locate the hyponychium (also called the “quick”) – this part is very rich in nerves and blood supply. Pink-colored quicks can easily be seen through the nails in dogs that have white nails. Be sure not to cut into quicks, as this will cause bleeding and be very painful for your dog.

If your dog has darker nails, it could be hard to see the quick. Use a small flashlight, such as your cellphone’s flashlight, and put it on a angle under the nail. This will help you locate the quick.

Tackle the back paws first. The nails on these paws are generally shorter. Plus, most dogs are more comfortable about touching their back paws.

Place the clippers at an angle of about 45 degrees away from nails and begin to cut in small bits. Stop trimming immediately when you notice grayish small dots in your dog’s nails.
Do not overlook the dewclaws. These are the nails above the wrist on the inside of the dog’s leg. If your dog has dewclaws, trim them with the clippers every time.

Switch up the positions if needed. Experiment with various positions while trimming the nails. If your dog doesn’t respond well to nail trimming while lying down on his side, let him sit and hold his paw vertically in the air so that his nails face you.

Step 5: Praise Your Pup Frequently

Once the nail trimming process is finally done, consider rewarding your dog. You should give lots of praise and some belly rubs as well. Every dog likes it. You need to do it throughout the trimming process as well.

To show your dog was good and brave, give him some tasty treats after cutting the nails on each paw. That will make him associate nail trims as a nice experience, so he is likely to be cooperative in the future too.

5 More Tips on How to Cut Your Dog’s Nails

1. Start at a puppy phase: By starting to trim the nails of your dog when he’s still a puppy, your pet will get used to this process early in his life. Spend a few minutes every day touching and playing with his paws.

2. Respect your pet’s preference: If your dog is unhappy or reluctant, do not force him. Try to relax him first and give your fur buddy a savory treat if he’s uncomfortable.

3. Get help from an expert or other people: You may take your pup to a professional groomer if required. Also, you may ask someone to hold your pet while trimming his nails. Make sure your dog will respect and feel comfortable with that person.

4. Try to distract your dog: If you have a tough time trimming your dog’s nails, distract him with a toy, food, or something else. Be patient. Trim only 3-4 nails every day for a few days if necessary.

5. Keep a positive attitude all the time: Dogs are animals that can easily sense the frustration of their owners. Once you finish with one nail, stop for a few seconds to assess your dog’s reaction. If he looks unaffected, you can proceed with the next nail. If your dog gets anxious or aggressive, don’t continue until he gets calm.

FAQs About How to Cut An Uncooperative Dog’s Nails

What to Do if Your Dog Doesn’t Let You Trim His Nails?

Make nail trimming easier by desensitizing your puppy to it. Also, you should consider using different types of dog nail clippers. Instead of clippers, you may use a Dremel.

Can I Hurt My Dog by Cutting His Nails?

Much like our nails, pain can be caused during the trimming process if your dog’s nails are hurt or damaged. That often happens when the nails aren’t maintained regularly. Just like leaving nails to grow long is painful for your pet, cutting them too short also causes pain.

What Angle Should I Cut My Dog’s Nails?

A 45-degree angle is recommended. First, place the nail trimmer at a 90-degree angle at the nail apex. Then keep moving it toward the tip of the nail so that the trimmers are inclined at an angle of 45 degrees. Now you can start cutting.


Whether you have a cooperative or an uncooperative dog, it is important to cut his nails regularly. Dogs’ nails grow continuously and if they are left uncared for, the nails can become too long and can lead to a painful condition called a “long nail syndrome”. Remember, dogs deserve only the best!

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