Alternatives to nail Clipping or Dremel tools

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In puppy class last week, I demonstrated how my pup Hooley files her own nails on a scratch board. 

There was an audible gasp. 

Immediately everyone got it.  Nail care not only doesn’t have to be scary, it can also be fun.  When the dog has control over the procedure & it demonstrates voluntary participation, the impossible becomes so achievable.


Scratch board training is an alternative to nail clipping or using a Dremel tool.

Route nail care is a subject that makes pet parents cringe.  We hate it because our dogs get upset about the process and we are scared we will hurt our dog.  The result is people simply avoid nail care altogether.

Although we know avoidance is not a healthy solution to this problem, it is what happens.  The solution is to change the emotions of both the people and the dog regarding what nail care can be like.  


So just like all good training, we need to start with something that is doable for dog parents and reward that behavior.  In Puppy class and our Fear Free Cooperative Care class, we teach clients how to train their dog to use a scratch board.  This is easy to do, the dog’s love it  And because the dog is having fun, dog parent’s feel relief of stress, fear and guilt.  That relief serves as a reward for the person.

Once the easy scratch board behavior is established, we can start desensitization and counter conditioning training with handling of the feet, equipment and use of the equipment on the dog.  This part is more time consumptive but because we have introduced an alternative procedure, weekly nail care can still be provided.  Sometimes dog parents might be tempted to skip this part.  Maybe they think the scratch board is good enough.  It is great but ideally, their dog can be calm with feet handling and procedures, so we do encourage that you go for the whole enchilada.

For more information on scratch board training or Fear Free Cooperative Care training, Click this link.

Debbie SchaeferComment