When it come to the general care of our dogs, there is one task that most people shy away from…cutting the nails  In this post I am going to explain the best way to trim dog nails without actually hurting them.  Once you know the best way, with practice you will become more confident and hopefully it will become as easy as brushing their coat.

Of course, without doubt, the best starting point is when they are puppies.  With a little bit of care at this stage, you should manage to prepare your dog to not fear the procedure for the rest of his life.  The secret is ‘little and often’.  That’s right, every week at this stage would be ideal.  Take extreme care to just remove a little at a time so that you don’t nick the quick!  Before you even start to trim dog nails it is important to prepare the tools you will need.

A good pair of nail clippers

dog nail clippers

It really does come down to personal choice when it comes to type of clipper to use, but make sure your choice is good quality.

Favorite treats

Styptic powder or pads (available at most pet stores)

Now take a look at this great video that will take you through step by step how to trim dog nails regardless if this is a puppy or an adult.


Of course, the video makes it look very easy.  It must be remembered that the model dog you see on the video will have been ‘trained’ from being a puppy.  However, it gives us a great idea of what we are looking to achieve, and with a careful approach it will become this easy.  Take a look at the walkthrough that is in this article…it supports the video teachings…

You want to trim only the portion of the nail that extends beyond the quick, the blood vessel that runs down the nail. On light nails, it is very evident where the quick begins. You will notice a black dot appear in the center of the nail as you clip your small slices. This is the start of the quick. The problem with trimming dark nails is that it’s difficult to see the quick. This is why we recommend trimming claws in several small cuts instead of one large cut. On dark nails, you will see a dark or pink dot in the center of the nail as you approach the quick. It will also have a different texture. This is your cue to stop…..READ MORE

Be careful not to catch the quick.

Be careful not to catch the quick.


Take your time!  If this is your first attempt it is important not to rush.  To trim dog nails correctly takes patience.  The most important thing to remember is to take such a small slither off at a time so that you don’t cut the quick.  This is extremely painful for the dog, and is the quickest way of causing your dog to be terrified of the procedure.  If you do happen to just nick the tip of the quick don’t worry, that won’t hurt the dog too much.  You will see an awful lot of blood. Don’t panic, this really is harmless, but is why you have the styptic powder to hand just incase.  The powder will stop the bleeding fast.  Incidentally, corn flour will do the same job, so if you don’t have any styptic powder grab the corn flour out of the cupboard!

So what if your dog is older and terrified? This is a whole different ball game and one where you will have to be patient and win his confidence.  It is too easy to say oh I will get the vet or the groomer to cut his nails. In my years of experience often times it is exactly taking this approach that has caused the problem.  Now I am not saying that all groomers are the same, but ask around, how many dog owners do you know that have a really nervous dog that will fight you when it comes to you going near their feet?  You need to ask the question why?  Had it been you that was in control of the trim dog nails job from the start, then I am certain that with the above approach you will have gained your dogs trust.

So what tips are best for getting the job done?  Well, start from the beginning,  Over several weeks or days you will want to get your dog used to having his feet touched.  A great tip will be to make sure your dog is hungry and when you feel confident start touching his feet.  Reward good behaviour often.  Eventually, you can introduce the nail clippers.  Don’t do anything with them, just touch his feet and reward him when he readily accepts.  Eventually, you will be at the stage where you will be able to take a tiny slither off one of his toes.  Be patient, remember this could take weeks to get him to this stage, but with lots of praise and reward you will win him over.

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