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Do Long Dog Nails Equal Abuse?


Yesterday, I saw an ad for a dog nail care product. The title of the ad was something along the line of “long dog nails = abuse”. I have a big problem with that. I am also going to assume that a lot of other people who saw the ad may have also had a problem with it and that they also probably felt pretty awful if they think their dog’s nails are too long.

Long dog nails do not make you a bad dog owner

If there’s one thing I have learned over the past 2 years and literally hundreds of (almost 900 of them!) students, it’s that most people are not super happy if their dog’s nails are too long. They are actually kind of embarrassed and are at a loss. They don’t know what to do, how to get started and how to maintain them in a way that is sustainable. They are desperate for something that can actually help. Most of them have tried everything they can think of. I know this feeling. If you are in my course Nailed It, you know I have been there.


One of the things that’s always been super important to me is that people do not feel judged about their dog’s nails because I know they are doing enough of that themselves. So the thought of a product advert that does just that doesn’t sit right with me. I can’t change it, and I hope that the product does help people if they purchase it, but I worry about how often people are sold a false bill of goods when it comes to dogs. As if everything is a quick fix and all it takes is this one product to make things all better.

There are no quick fixes

I don’t think my course is a quick fix, so I educated myself and called on experts to help people find alternatives or in-the-meantimes to get them through while they are actually working on the problem. And the good, no – GREAT news is that there are more and more quality resources available to pet owners to help them live happier lives with their dogs…and cats…and birds and more. Fear Free Happy Homes is a free resource that includes veterinary information and more. My trainer friends and colleagues are actively invested in and engaged in helping stressed out dog owners overcome some of their biggest struggles: long dog nails being just one of them!

The video above is from my friend Joan of The Dog Abides, LLC in Chester County, PA. Not only is Joan helping her clients, she’s going one step further and offering education to the public (see post on Facebook).

I guess the other thing is, I am just sort of over the constant criticism and judgment the internet allows us to do. I understand that the title of the ad that inspired this blog is just to get people to click and I am guilty of the same! And to answer my own question – do long dog nails equal abuse? – well, they certainly can. But in my experience, in the vast majority of cases, they do not. They much more typically equal a person who has tried without success (yet!) and a dog who is sensitized to the experience and needs some help. No need to be dramatic about it!

For a great many people and dogs, sustainable nail care is about a process, not a product. Yes, the right product is important and for all I know, maybe this one is the best one out there, but it’s still not going to change the fact that most people are trying their best. Even if they don’t have success. And their dog still has long nails.

Nailed It aims to help students achieve nail care success. However long it takes. Without judgment. Without criticism. But with healthy doses of encouragement and acceptance. Along with information designed to help them gain an understanding of what’s been happening, so they can start to improve things.


So, if you are judging yourself and/or your dog, please stop. Don’t let anyone else make you feel bad if you are taking steps to try to improve things. Take a deep breath and remember this: Canine nail care doesn’t have to be a battle. It’s a process and it can take time. And that’s okay with us. No one here is judging you.


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