CMH CynodFirst Saturday Behavior MeetingsAdditional Resources & Information (Moderator: Traci)Nail Trim
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Author Topic: Nail Trim  (Read 9417 times)

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« on: November 27, 2007, 11:19:13 PM »

Click here to view a short video demonstrating a nail trim with a reluctant dog.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2008, 03:34:47 PM by admin » Leave a comment   Logged

Posts: 49

« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2008, 09:24:07 PM »

Nail Trimming Made Fun and Easy

               By Stephanie Day

Most puppies and dogs have a hard time holding still on order to allow their toe nails to be trimmed.  Sometimes it is possible to distract a fearful dog or excited puppy with a really tasty treat, like hot dog pieces, peanut butter, baby food, or boiled chicken.  It is preferable that your pet will eat duringduring the nail trim in order to prevent or lessen an overly fearful reaction should you accidentally get to close to or cut the vein, which is painful for your pet. 

The food alone may not work at first if your pet is already overly fearful about feet handling or nail trimming.  Dogs that are overly fearful about their feet may become vocal or aggressive when their nails are trimmed.  They may pant heavily, struggle to get away, or freeze in fear with huge dilated pupils.  There is a lot you can do to decrease your pets fear to a manageable level or get rid of the fear altogether. 

Key Ideas
•Proceed in small steps
•Use really valuable food (valuable means from your pets perspective)
•Help your pet to make as positive association with all aspects of nail trimming
•Communicate to your pet that stillness is a very rewardable behavior (stillness pays off for the pup, i.e. stillness gets me steak!  Oh wow!) 
What you need
   •Only 5 minutes a day
   •Nail trimmers
   •Treats that are tiny (the size of a raisin),
      can be eaten quickly (in a ½ second),
      and are extremely tasty (like meat or cheese).
   •One Clicker (you should be familiar with the basics of clicker Training)
Tips to remember
      Keep it fun
      Stop if you get frustrated
      End on a good note

      Your pet must remain relaxed and happy throughout this entire process.  It is your job to carefully monitor your pet for signs of conflict and stress, such as- dilated pupils, sweaty feet, backing up or trying to get away from you, whining, aggression, head turning away from you, lip licking, looking away, etc.  If you see any of these signs, do not click and treat.  Instead immediately go backward to a step that is does not elicit stress, a step where your pet does not exhibit any of these conflict behaviors.  If you are using valuable food you should see a distinct change in your pets body language.  Ears should be up, tongue and tail relaxed, and your pet should be taking the food eagerly!  This is very important!

Getting Started
   Help your pet make a positive association with the sight of those nail trimmers.  Prop them up in front of the food dish while he eats, hold them in the same hand as the treat goes from that hand into your pet’s mouth when you click and treat (C/T).  Hold those trimmers in your hand when you do fun things with your pet, like during playtime or click and treat obedience sessions.  Change the association from trimmers=pain + fear to trimmers=hotdogs.   Remember to find a nonstressful starting point.  If your pup gets agitated when you walk to the place where the trimmers are kept then that is where you have to start changing the association.  This means walk over to the place and C/T a sit without even reaching for or taking out the trimmers. 
   Click and treat your pet for remaining in a sit or down position as you begin to work on the following steps.  Mix the steps up so it doesn’t just get harder and more stressful for the pet.  Do a lot of easy stuff, one hard thing, then more easy stuff.  Your pet’s body language determines what steps are hard or easy.  Do his pupils get big, or does he cower away at the sight of the nail trimmers?  If yes, then you can’t go past that step until the sight of those trimmers causes Rover to sit with ears up staring at you expectantly for his click and treat. 

Steps your pet must progress through
1)   the sight of the owner approaching the place where the trimmers are kept
2)   The owner reaching to open the drawer or cabinet
3)   The sight of the trimmers in a neutral place (far away on a table, floor, or chair)
4)   The sight of the trimmers in the hand of an owner who is standing/ sitting far away
5)   The owner approaching 1 step at a time and/or leaning or reaching for the pet
6)   The owner handling feet etc. with no trimmers in sight- from holding touching a non scary body part (under the chin) to owner holding foot firmly
7)   Handling with trimmers in sight but far away
8)   Handling pet while trimmers in owner hand- e.g. pick up the ear with one hand while holding trimmers in the other- C/T, touch trimmers to dog’s ear- C/T, Touch trimmers to feet- C/T
9)   Touching trimmers to a toe nail while holding foot
10)   Trimming 1 nail
11)   Trimming multiple nails

If your pet is wiggly- try progressing through the steps more slowly, and only C/T when the pet is perfectly still.  Don’t progress to the next step until your pet has mastered being still for the previous step.  Use more valuable rewards for the harder, scarier steps.  Remember harder is judged from your pets point of view.  If Rover is unfazed by the sight of the trimmers maybe he only gets a click and a piece of kibble for sitting at that step.  He should get a click and a piece of meat for successfully doing a step that is harder for him, like being touched with the trimmers.  How valuable a reward is should also be determined by your pets body language.  They should have to do more work to get the food that really makes their ears come up and their eyes sparkle.  The reward is not valuable if your pet sniffs it, turns their nose away and leaves it behind. 
Helpful Hint: The use of a properly fitted gentle leader during this process may lower your pet’s anxiety or wiggliness and help the process to go faster.

Your safety is important
It is not recommended that you proceed with this process on your own if your safety is in jeopardy.  If this is the case, please ask for assistance so this process can be done under the close observation of a behavior specialist who may help you take extra measures to ensure your safety.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2008, 01:03:08 AM by admin » Leave a comment   Logged
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