THE HELP CENTER
Your Questions, Answered
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU CUT YOUR DOG’S NAILS?
Many people think that they should never hear their dog’s nails clicking as they walk across the floor. A better way to gauge is by looking closely at your dog’s paws as he stands “squarely”, with weight evenly distributed. The nails should sit just off the floor to avoid flattening of the paw, which can come with nails that are too long. Nails do provide some traction and grip, so while super short nails is the goal for many people, sitting just off the ground may be a better benchmark.
Because dog’s nails never stop growing (just like ours!), regular maintenance is very important. Sticking to a schedule is helpful, and doing a little work two to three times a week can really make the difference between nails that are too long and nails that are just the right length!
WHY DO YOU NEED TO TRIM YOUR DOG NAILS?
Dogs that go for long walks and are very active can naturally grind down and maintain their own nails to some extent. Many people believe that short walks on concrete or other abrasive surfaces is all that is needed to keep their dog’s nails short and well maintained. Many dogs don’t get as much activity as would be needed to see results on these types of surfaces, and their nails can get overgrown. We often need to do some trimming to get them to a length that is good for their bones and joints, as nails that are too long can put strain on ligaments, which can lead to pain.
WHAT ABOUT DOGS WITH BLACK NAILS?
For dogs with black nails, it can be difficult or impossible to see the quick, which contains the blood supply running through the nail. Because of this, you should only trim off the tip – especially when you are first starting out, and if you accidentally cut your dog’s nails too short, he may yelp in pain, pull his leg away and start bleeding. Although this is not a serious injury, it can be painful. Dogs can become fearful of the nail trimming process and you can avoid this by taking your time and following our plan for nail care. Not being mindful of the quick and causing my dog Rocco pain is what led to his fear and our lifelong struggle with nail care. Following the training plan in the course can help you avoid this and can also help you undo negative associations made with the nail care process.
WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT TO KNOW ABOUT THE QUICK?
Nails that are overgrown often have a longer quick, and owners need to be very careful when they start to cut long nails. Cutting them too short can result in bleeding due to cutting the quick. For dogs whose nails are very long, it is recommended to cut just a little off at a time to avoid hitting the quick. This will allow the quick to begin to recede, allowing you to get them shorter bit by bit until you reach the ideal length. By starting the process slowly, you are also giving your dog the opportunity to get comfortable with and enjoy the process, rather than having it be something he or she simply endures.
WHAT'S THE BENEFIT OF USING A SCRATCHBOARD?
A scratchboard is a great way to make some progress on nails quickly and without having to do any handling (they do it themselves!). For some dogs, getting them comfortable with nail trims can take a long time and patience is key! Using a scratchboard can keep nails short so that you don’t have to worry as much about long, sharp nails or be tempted to rush things.