When I first trimmed Renji's nails, he was quite fine with the chore until I quicked a few of his nails. Yes, a few. I am bad. His quicks are ridiculously long. I would trim a tiny piece off and end up with the quick. So of course he learned to hate nail trimming time! We dealt with his nails by giving him LOTS of pavement exercise and they've been keeping to a reasonable length. I decided enough was enough, though, especially because his dewclaws are like cat claws.
Today I am home with with food poisoning (always awesome) and have been doing better after getting some rice in me, so I tried a quick nail trim session. At first, he was freaking and as I tried to control him he was screaming every single time I tried to get his paw, and it was a mess. Then I got his kong, got him laying down (he was freaking), then I held his paw (freaking), then I tapped his nail with the trimmer to simulate a trim but didn't actually trim anything, and after that I flung the Kong up the stairs for him to fetch. He ran after it, brought it back, I downed him, and we repeated. We did this several times in a row and he quieted down (so did I), I made sure to talk in a very happy, jubilant voice and lavished the praise, and I got to the point where I could trim teeeeeeeny tiiiiiiiiiiiny stupidly small bits from his nails and HE WAS FINE! Threw the kong after every success. At one point, he let me hold his paw and really examine and position the trimmer for the perfect trim! Wow, lots of progress! At the end, he was rewarded with lots of praise and fetching of his Kong up the stairs.
Positive work and desensitization work really do work wonders! I have a problem of a short temper which certainly does not help (I get stressed when I should really be calm) but this is certainly excellent progress. If I can mesh playtime with nail trim time, I think we'll both be stress-free when it comes to this chore. My plan is to do this routine daily indoors, sometimes trimming and sometimes not, then when he's fine indoors, do it anytime we play fetch. If we're at the park and he wants me to throw the ball, I'll have to trim/touch a nail first. I know that this makes obedience extra fun, mixing commands with games, so I'm willing to bet that this will make him get over nail trim time. When he's fine with this avenue, I think we'll go to a Dremel. Maybe I should just go with that now since he's leery of the trimmer itself. In any case, two stubborn buttheads finally stopped bickering and finally found some common ground to start working on!
When I get a pup though, I am going to make sure the breeder massages the pup's nails or even does a little trimming here and there, and then I'm going to start from Day One making nail time positive by mixing it with play time.