How 5 Minutes A Day Can Condition Your Pet To Love Nail Trims

Train your pet to like getting their nails trimmed

Most of the time it is a struggle! We do this crazy dance around the room seeking to restrain pets with a gentle control that lets us safely trim their nails. They hate having their nails trimmed! We have to hold the foot still in order to trim the nails properly, but dogs (and Cats!) inevitably flee from a stranger touching their feet.

We can take our time and counter condition pets to standing for and even enjoying having their nails trimmed. Counter Conditioning is a behavior modification term that means to condition an animal to something that the opposite of their natural way. This is where you will see us use a considerate approach to the nail trimming and use lots of rewards and praise to make the pet feel good about the nail trim. Also we try to decrease the visual and auditory stimulation by covering the sounds of the nail trimmer with our talking and hiding the doctor and the nail trimmers from the patient the best that we can. But, is it their natural way to hate having their nails trimmed? Were they born this way? NO. In actuality, we “conditioned” them to hate the nail trim. If we conditioned them this way in the first place, we should not complain about the long process of “counter conditioning.”

dog nail trimmingA much easier way would be to condition our pets to enjoy nail trimming in the first place. This is done on a daily basis for the first several weeks that you have your pet. Gently touching the feet and tapping the nails with the nail trimmers, giving lots of praise and reward when the nail trimmers come out. The key is to go at their own pace, stopping and slowing progress at the first sign of fear, anxiety or stress. Remember, we are trying to make them love the nail trimmers, we are not trying the get the nails trimmed—that will come in time.

Think of something we often do unconsciously; we condition them to love the food dish. When we pick up the food dish each day to fill it with their favorite, what do they do? They come running, jumping for joy. They love this inanimate object that is their food dish. We have conditioned them to think the dish “is” food they love it so much. If we put some thought and planning into it, we could make them love other inanimate objects such as the nail trimmers. In this video, I talk to Shane Gentry of Sally Said So Dog Training and he demonstrates how 5 minutes a day for a few weeks can lead to a lifelong stress free relationship with your pet.

Now think about these ideas: Can you make her love the toothbrush? Ear cleaner? Eye drops? Her crate? The car?

Click here for other grooming tips!