Dog CareDog Grooming

How To Trim Dog Nails When They Are Scared | A Full Guide

It can be very frustrating for both owner and pup if nail trimming becomes a struggle. Not being able to properly groom their paws will result in unsightly and painful wounds. This article will provide some valuable tips and tricks to grind dogs’ nails when they are scared.

If not careful, nail trims can cause serious damage to your dog’s paws. Nails should never be trimmed too short as they can become infected and painful, leading to health problems like bone infections. 

On the other hand, not trimming can cause claws to curve and curl under, causing limping and pain. If nails are allowed to grow too long, they can split, crack and break. This can cause discomfort and pain to your dog. It’s recommended to trim your dog’s nails regularly, usually every three to four weeks. The intervals may be longer depending on the environment you and your dog live in.

Why Are Dogs Scared Of Having Their Nails Clipped?

Dogs that get their nails trimmed often don’t need to be restrained or sedated. Though, it’s a fact that some dogs get scared when their nails are cut. The most common reasons for dogs fearing nail trimming are:

  • A traumatic nail trimming experience early in the dog’s life. One such experience could have been if the owner accidentally cut into the blood vessel, causing bleeding and pain to the dog.
  • The way you hold your dog during the trimming process. Applying too much pressure, holding them down forcefully, and pulling on their paws are unpleasant experiences. Over time this will lead to them being anxious about the process. It’s essential to make your dog feel comfortable when being trimmed. 

How To Help A Dog Who Is Scared Of Nail Trimming?

The best way of teaching a dog not to be afraid of nail trimming is by encouraging them to see it as a fun experience. You will find that doing this will make your dog more willing to accept nail cutting without any hesitation. Always remember to be cautious and gentle with the process. Here are some tips that might come in handy.

Start nail trimming at an early age to avoid stress.

If possible, you should start trimming their nails at an early age. Get your puppy used to the feel of the tools you plan to use. This way, they’ll become accustomed to having their nails trimmed regularly.

Make it a positive experience. Don’t let them run around and jump while you’re trying to trim their nails. Instead, play with them and attempt the process during cuddle time when they are more worn out. 

clippers for dogs feet come in puppy size too

Give treats if your puppy seems nervous, and take things slowly. Don’t rush through the process. This will help them associate nail trimming with a positive experience.

Train them to let you handle their paws

Start by gently rubbing your dog’s shoulders and neck, going all the way to their paw. Then, go back to the shoulder area, continuing to rub and massage until your dog feels comfortable enough to let you handle their paws.

If your dog seems content, you can continue working on its paws. Use your fingers to tenderly squeeze their claws and then move onto their nails. Once you’ve finished touching paws, give their favorite food to encourage your dog to remain calm and relaxed while you’re handling their feet. Repeat this step several times a day for as many sessions as it takes for your pup to feel confident enough to let you handle his paws.

Get them used to the sound of a nail grinder.

The goal here is to prepare your dog to tolerate the touch of the trimmer. Sit on the floor with your dog and make sure he is relaxed. Handle his paw with one hand and turn on/off the trimmer with the other hand. Then place them on the floor. Repeat the process gradually, moving the tool closer to your dog each time.

If your pet stays calm, gently place the trimmer to the paw while giving praises and treats. 

Take your time and give your dog breaks during the process

If you notice that your dog has any kind of fear or phobia, take breaks and try to use positive reinforcement. This will help your dog overcome his/her fears. Don’t forget to use a soothing voice when talking to your pet during the claw cutting process, and of course, giving a treat after each nail is done will assist the process.

Some dogs may need extra time to build trust. 

In some cases, dogs can be so stressed out that they’ll refuse to go near the nail trimmer. That’s why owners need to develop trust between them and the dog. It might take up to a few days or weeks to gain your dog’s trust and for them to let you cut their claws. 

Choose an area where you know your dog won’t run away. Then, put down all their favorite toys and let them play. Once they have exerted themselves, show your dog love and affection. It will build a strong bond between you and your pet, which will help you gain their trust and loyalty.

Slowly introduce the tools and the noise they make, but don’t use them until you’ve gained your dog’s trust. Then follow the other steps above.

The Correct Method To Trim A dogs’ Nails When They’re Afraid

Use the right tools

To trim effectively, you need to choose the right tools for your dog. There are two types of nail trimmers used to trim a dog’s nails Clippers and Grinders. 

  • Clippers are manual, require less force to operate, and are made from stainless steel. They are also quiet. Using a clipper may cause bleeding because of the lower accuracy.
  • On the other hand, a dog nail grinder works by using a small grinding wheel that rotates at high speeds. The wheel is applied to your dog’s nails, grinding them down until they are at the proper length. Grinders are faster and more efficient, making them a good choice for beginners and people who don’t want to spend a lot of time trimming their dog’s nails.

Place your dog in a comfortable position. 

Place your dog in a comfortable place. This could be your lap, table, carpet, etc., whenever they feel more comfortable. Pick up one paw and hold it firmly but not forcefully. Hold the nail between your fingers to stabilize it, and turn on the trimmer at a slow speed.

Trim slowly and take your time, allowing for breaks if needed.

Start trimming one nail at a time. Then slowly work up to trimming the rest of the pet’s claws. You don’t need to do it all in one sitting. Instead, divide it into smaller chunks. Allow your dog enough time to rest between each paw.

Start grinding from the center with a little bit of pressure until you’ve shortened the nail. Continue grinding outwards from the center to finish the nail. 

While most dogs’ toes are naturally white, some breeds have black nails. This means that finding the quick (the blood vessel that runs through the nail) can be hard.

Fortunately, there are ways to identify the quick of dogs with black nails.

clipping black dog nails can have more challenges

This is how to do it:

  • First, take note of where the nail starts growing out of the foot. 
  • Then, use a mirror to reflect light onto the nail. 
  • If the nail appears lighter than its surroundings, then it’s the quick. You have to stop here. 

If you cut into a dog’s nail too close, or your dog moves slightly during nail grinding, you can easily hit the inner blood vessel (quick) and cause bleeding. Don’t panic. Stay calm and relaxed. Use styptic powder or cornstarch to stop the blood.

Reward your dog

Repeat this process on all remaining paws. Once you have finished trimming your dog’s nails, give them cuddles and treats. Praise is a great motivator and will encourage pets to be obedient when trimming their nails.


Nail cutting can be frustrating. The problem is that most dogs aren’t accustomed to having their feet and nails touched. They’re scared of pain they may face or have already faced in the past. That’s where the calming and trimming tips come in handy. Get your dog comfortable, have his paws and nails handled through positive behavior, and, most importantly, develop trust.

With those things covered, you’ll be able to trim their nails much more quickly and efficiently.

Johni Barresto

Johni Barresto Is a father and animal lover. With a range of expertise in animal health, he decided to start Animal Heed. His passion is to share his knowledge to help animal owners worldwide. When not in front of his computer, he's out with his kids, teaching them the importance of animal care.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top button