The Crazy Things I Do to Clip My Dog’s Nails


Clipping dog nails is never a fun task. For some people, it’s such an ordeal that they pay someone else to do it. I like to care for my animals on my own as much as I can, though, nail clipping included. That certainly doesn’t mean it’s always an easy job! Over time, I’ve developed a routine that helps the process go smoothly, but to anyone watching, it may look more like a strange circus sideshow than an owner clipping her dog’s nails.

"A nail trim? Me??"
“A nail trim? Me??” (Photo by Meghan Lodge)

Of course, I always start with sharp clippers and clip only small amounts at a time. I try to wait until Axle is lying down and relaxed, sometimes after going outside for exercise. He’s very excitable and quick to assume you want to play, so I have to slowly move closer to him, clippers in hand.

In a soft, nonchalant voice, I talk to the wall about clipping Axle’s nails. “Why yes, I do think it’s about time I clip his nails. I’m just going to take a little off the tips, very carefully.” I gently grab the first paw and set to clipping. Of course, his immediate reaction is to put that big ol’ head of his right in my way, sniffing the clippers and his feet like he’s never seen either before.

Maybe if we go play outside for a bit, he'll be too tired to resist...
Maybe if we go play outside for a bit, he’ll be too tired to resist. (Photo by Meghan Lodge)

I then start the soft crooning of a made-up lullaby, “Hush-a-bye, little doggy, just gotta clip those nails. Hush-a-bye, little doggy.” Temporarily distracted by my caterwauling, he lets me finish clipping most of his front paws. As he starts to get a little irritated with what I’m doing, I move to the back paws. He always seems to get a random itch at this point, so that back paw I was about to clip goes to twitching and scratching. It’s at this point that we start an awkward human-dog game of Twister.

Tired from a walk...time to make my move!
Tired from a walk … time to make my move! (Photo by Meghan Lodge)

As I reach for the next back paw, he’ll start pulling it away, and the game begins. I’ll tell him to sit, and he’ll lie down. If I reach for a paw, he’ll roll over like he’s pouting, but as soon as I move to get the next closest paw, he’s twisting away again.

I’ll put a leg in his way to keep him from moving away again, and he’ll curl around it anyway. He starts wagging his tail like crazy and wiggling around on the floor. For him, nail clipping time is an inconvenient and slightly uncomfortable activity that is best turned into a 30-minute game rather than the five-minute ordeal it could have been.

"Maybe if I give her doggy kisses she'll leave my nails alone..."
“Maybe if I give her doggy kisses she’ll leave my nails alone.” (Photo by Meghan Lodge)

After some belly rubbing and ear scratching, he’ll let me pull him onto my lap to try and finish cutting those pesky nails. He thinks it’s great fun at this point to flop around like a fish and knock me in the jaw with that hard head of his. When I tell him that wasn’t very nice and that he needs to let me finish the last few nails, he’ll act like the wind has gone out of him and lean all of his weight on me. With him weighing 64 pounds, that isn’t the best feeling! I then hold him in a sort of full-body hug and clip those last nails as quickly as possible.

When all of his nails are clipped, I tell him what a good dog he is and give him a thorough scratching. For all the fuss that he makes about the clipping process, he’ll then just stand up, shake off, and go grab one of his chews and lie down, calmly gnawing away. I suppose I could be more stern with him, but I don’t want him to run every time he sees me get the nail clippers, as the cat does. Besides, as much as I might complain, it’s kind of fun watching all the ways he tries to avoid having his nails clipped!

Is clipping your dog’s nails an adventure? Tell us about it in the comments!

Read more about Meghan and Axle:

About Meghan Lodge: Fits the Aquarius definition to a fault, loves animals, and is always pushing for change. Loves ink, whether it’s in tattoos, books, or writing on that pretty sheet of blank paper. Proud parent of Toby (cat) and Axle (dog). I’m a former quiet nerd who’s turned bubbly animal-obsessed advocate.

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