Nail Trimming: With Treats vs. My Dad's Way - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-17-2013, 11:39 AM Thread Starter
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Nail Trimming: With Treats vs. My Dad's Way

Just a story... My pup is 22 weeks old right now (non-GSD!). I've been trimming her nails once a week since we got her at 8 weeks old. About 4 weeks in, she decided against it, and we struggled. Then I started over, with treats. Paw, treat, nail, treat, clip, treat... repeat. Takes awhile, but we are making progress and I can do all 4 paws at once now rather than breaking up over the weekend. Soon we will be able to clip 2 nails and then treat instead of treats for each nail! She is happy while we do this.

My dad: OLD SCHOOL. I was at his house this weekend with Emme, and he was holding her looking at her nails, commenting it was time to trim. Yep I said, but we do it with treats. He was all... NAW, just come clip them while I hold her.

I was skeptical, but, wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt and he HAS raised many dogs to be great pets. So I started... she started squirming...he held harder. She squirmed more... was becoming distressed.

I put an end to it, and moved to the floor, with treats. Treat, clip, treat, clip. Sure, it took a little longer, but she was HAPPY the whole time.

My dad scoffed at me... "You give her too many treats" he said, shaking his head.

But WHY would I do it the other way? Struggling, fighting, dog unhappy. When all I need to do is offer some treats? She's just a baby after all!

I didnt pursue the issue with him, as I know he wouldnt relent that my way is better (he's 65... what can I expect! LOL)... But I knew you folks would appreciate it.

~ ~ ~ Melissa, Emme (A Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever!), and 4 Cats ~ ~ ~
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-17-2013, 12:03 PM
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Do what works for you, simply rule Some dogs might need a heavier hand, others don't. If being gentle and treating gets the job done then good, and if you are working towards the goal of two nails done, then treat and eventually fading the treats out even better

Shanna

My Pack:

Jasmine - Female Miniature Poodle - born Aug 15, 2010
Loker Delgado Von Stalworth - Male GSD - born Jan 26, 2012
Koda & Zazu - 7 year old male cats
Alex - Male Cocker Spaniel (rescue) - RIP Cuddlebug 2007-2010
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-17-2013, 12:09 PM
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I see no reason to make nails a situation to stress about. Treat and get the job done. I don't let my dog act like a brat when we do toe nails however, she is rewarded with treats for good behavior during the process. Eventually, we moved to a lot of head stroking and not as many treats. I probably will never totally fade the treats, they will just be delivered randomly and when the dog is totally cooperating. That's my 2 cents.


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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-17-2013, 01:32 PM
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I do it your dad's way. My puppies have all been *obsessed* with food. Trying to deliver treats and get a puppy to hold still for trimming...not happening! I don't have anyone to help me do mine so I just do them, starting day 1 (even if they don't need it yet I just pretend). I don't make a big fuss about it, just wait until the dog is pretty tired and do it. I have an 11 week old puppy right now and his have been trimmed twice and will do them again on Friday before he flies out to his new home. So far I've never had a puppy that I couldn't do but again I start at 8 weeks so a little squirming is easy to deal with and by the time they are 12+ weeks they are just used to it. My adult dogs I just tell to sit (or let them lie down) and do them with no fuss. At the end they might get a treat or play with a toy but usually the puppies are just happy to run off and do their own thing.

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Legend (GSD 10/22/13)
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-17-2013, 01:34 PM
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I'm with Lies - I just do it. None of mine ever liked it - they just had to deal with it

Do what works for you.
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-17-2013, 01:49 PM
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I have a food driven dog and I used it to my advantage with a clicker. I got him used to me handling his paw, he got a click and a treat when he relaxed while I spread his paw out and wiggled his toes. Next step was to introduce the clipper, I would tap his nail with the clipper and click when it touched. He then knew clipper touching nail will get me a treat. You then do it and wait for him to be relaxed before clicking/treating. Then was to apply pressure with the clipper, pressure+no reaction/calm behavior= click/treat. Then we started clipping his nails and by his second paw I was able to treat him only when the paw was finished. We don't have any issues with clipping and it only took one session of clicker training to have him be nonchalant about it.

Some dogs (like my mother in laws border collie/aussie shep) will not do well with nail clipping though :/ tried the positive reinforcement method and I got bit so I'm calling it quits and she can take her dog to the groomers. Not a fan of those little sharp pointy teeth.

If the treating method works for ya do it just try to fade the treats our over time
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-17-2013, 03:21 PM Thread Starter
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Its funny with her... I trimmed her nails with her on her back for 4 weeks, starting right away when we got her at 8 weeks old. THen WHAM, she decided she didnt like that. We fought for a half hour, me sweating, her panting. It was horrible. Then we had to backtrack to the treat way... No idea WHY she changed her mind like that. I figured I had it made! Started her as a baby just right. But she is a confident bossy thing.. so... Here we are. I will definitely fade the treats away with time.

So I'm not saying my dad's way is BAD... just is bad if your dog wont stand for it. LOL. I did hope to have that way to start.

~ ~ ~ Melissa, Emme (A Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever!), and 4 Cats ~ ~ ~
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-17-2013, 03:37 PM
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However you have to do it is fine as long as it can be done! I am ever so thankful I got Nikon used to it as a puppy (he was a puppy that did NOT like restraint and fought for a long time). A few years back he broke a nail on a rear foot and it got infected. The infection went so deep he nearly needed an amputation. Each day I had to clean the wound, including trimming back the nail and dead tissue which was of course very painful for him, then re-wrap the wound. I did this 2-4 times every day for weeks. Can you imagine what it would have been like if he was a dog that didn't let people touch his feet or nails? Ever since then I've been very deliberate about making sure my puppies and new dogs will accept being handled, restrained, messing with their feet, and trimming nails.

Coke (All-American 7/7/06)
Nikon (GSD 9/7/08)
Indy (All-American 5/10/12)
Legend (GSD 10/22/13)
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-17-2013, 10:02 PM
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As a groomer, I do a LOT of toenails and I don't have time to click, treat, click, treat with every single nail.

I sometimes use treats with young puppies, but otherwise, I find it best to get it done as quickly and with as little fanfare as possible. Most dogs will accept their toenails being clipped if the person doing it is confident in what they are doing. The slightest hint of insecurity or fear on the part of the person doing the clipping will give a dog reason to feel insecurity and fear.

Some dogs are very sensitive about having their feet touched, either because their owner never bothered to touch their feet while they were pups, or because they have a particularly sensitive temperament. Sometimes I'll try using treats with those kinds of dogs to wire the toenail trim with something positive, but an anxious dog usually won't take treats, so I simply have to show the dog that it doesn't hurt... it takes time, but eventually the dog will learn to trust me. He may never like having his toenails trimmed, but he'll allow it, because he knows it will get done one way or the other and fighting is of no benefit.

With my own puppies, I start them young and it goes so quickly they don't even have time to wonder what I'm doing. Usually around adolescence they go through a phase where they decide they don't want their toenails clipped, but it gets done anyway. No treats, no coddling, just a matter-of-fact attitude on my part and it gets done. By the time they are mature, my dogs don't bat an eyelash at nail trimming.
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-17-2013, 10:29 PM
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I have a lot of dogs, and it would take forever to click and treat with each nail. That would be a nightmare.

I think that dogs have more problems with it, when we make it a big deal or if we are uncomfortable or nervous. Usually, I will have the dogs get up on the couch or up on their dog house so I can see. With Cujo, I had him lay down on the porch while I sat next to him, able to decend the porch steps a little if necessary to get a better view of a nail.

When I am comfortable, I am not in such a hurry, and I can see the quick and I am less likely to cut the dog.

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