How to clip your dog's claws step by step

As mentioned earlier, clipping your dog's claws is not always easy. The first step in the process to success is to get your puppy or dog used to you handling their claws, you can read more about that here.

This applies whether you have a puppy or a slightly older dog. When clipping your dog's claws, it's important to include the following steps in the process:

Use the right tool

When clipping claws, the absolute best tool is a claw clipper. These are specifically designed to be used in performing the task at hand. Buy a new pair of clippers that are sharp and the right size - larger clippers for larger dogs, small clippers for puppies, etc. If the pliers are not sharp, the claw will be pinched off instead of cut off, and that hurts!

The right grip without force

By proper grip, we don't mean holding your dog down to clip the claws. We mean that you should have the right grip around the claw itself. One tip is to grip each individual claw, one at a time, and not just hold the paws. Grip the claw firmly to get a clear view of what is the claw (to be clipped) and what is the pulp - which you should avoid clipping.

Angle for the right length

The next step in the process is to determine how much the claws need to be cut. This can be difficult as different breeds of dog, and different dogs, have different needs. The claws should not be so long that they get in the way when the dog walks, but they should also not be so short that the dog cannot use them.

The important thing here is not to cut too far into the claw so that you can reach the pulp. This is the sensitive part of the dog's claw, and if you accidentally cut into it, it will hurt. Get help from someone who can, or ask a vet if it's difficult at first!

Easy step by step

  1. Take a firm grip on your dog's paw, also holding under the pad of the claw you intend to cut

  2. Cut a thin slice with a cut angle to both sides, a little at a time in each direction.

  3. Stop cutting when you reach the lighter, softer area = the pulp

  4. File off sharp edges and corners

  5. Praise the dog and reward with pats, cuddles and treats!

When clock cutting goes wrong

Accidentally cutting your dog's pulp, which in turn can result in blood, is very easy to do. Especially in the beginning, if you haven't quite learned the technique yet. Depending on how the dog reacts, you should also act differently if this should happen. 

If the puppy or dog stays calm and does not react much, you should not do so either. Wipe away the blood, continue to pet the dog and reward it for being so calm, and then continue with the clipping for a little while to "shake off" the incident. Let the dog breathe before continuing with all the claws. 

Keep calm in case of a clear reaction 

Should it turn out that the dog gets really scared, screams or jumps, tries to escape or walk away, it probably hurt quite a bit. It is important that you do not start to pity the dog, while at the same time you should not hold the dog down. 
Let go of what you did, look over the wound, wipe away blood and let the dog breathe. It is good to continue with petting, rewarding and similar methods as you did during the actual clipping. However, it's best to hold off on the clipping for a while, and be prepared for it to take some getting used to - take it easy and calmly so the dog doesn't get scared! 

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