Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Dog toenail trims: DIY or groomer?

Sinead the Boston terrier looking like a demon
What Sinead looks like when I try to trim her nails.
When it comes to pet grooming, I've always been willing to roll up my sleeves and handle things at home. My pug, Liam, has a weekly beauty session that includes a nail trim, an ear cleaning and a thorough bathing. My cats also have weekly nail trims and long brushing sessions. None of these pets enjoyed these activities when I got them, but in time, they learned to tolerate the things I seemed determined to do to them, and we all got along fine.

After a week of living with me, I decided to integrate Sinead into our grooming plans, and I expected a little resistance. Instead, I got out-and-out terror. She screamed, wriggled, scratched and then finally thought about biting. Holding her down to handle just one nail was so stressful for her that she felt hot to the touch, and my nerves were shot after holding a demon between my hands for minutes.

In the past, I would have continued with her training, working with her each and every day until she learned to accept the work I was trying to do. But instead, I've thrown in the towel and found a good groomer. Here's my reasoning:
  1. She hates it, and when I have clippers, she hates me. 
  2. I might hurt her when she's wriggling, and then she'll hate this yet more. 
  3. She tends to accept authority figures, like a veterinarian or a groomer. 
  4. A groomer can handle all four feet in just minutes. 
Dog owners seem pretty divided on this issue. Some people feel like taking a dog to a groomer for something that can be done at home is a sign of defeat, and that I am somehow allowing this 8-pound dog to rule my household. If I was firmer and stronger, these people suggest, I could somehow make her accept a nail trim.

Those of us who have difficult dogs, on the other hand, love our groomers. This isn't something our dogs seem willing to budge on, and I'd much rather enjoy my little dog, rather than fighting with her on a daily basis. Her life is better, and so is mine.

That being said, if your little dog won't accept a nail trim, you do have options. Sometimes, switching clippers can make a reluctant pooch more comfortable and less likely to lash out. Some people swear by grinding tools, for example, as they don't tend to cause any sort of pinching sensation. I've also heard that rubbing coconut oil on a dog's feet could prepare them for nail trims, as they learn to associate the smell and taste of something wonderful with the act of you touching their feet.

But if your dog never accepts your nail trimming efforts, don't despair. I welcome you into the club of the quitters. You're in good company.

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