How to trim your dog's nails safely

Cutting a dogs nails using the safety guard on nail scissors

Clipping your dog's nails is essential to their overall comfort. Long nails can intrude into the pads of a dogs paw’s and will be uncomfortable whenever your dog walks.

While it is best practice to introduce nail trimming to your pet's routine from an early age, not all dogs find this an enjoyable experience. Fortunately, we have a secret weapon to traditional methods of trimming & will outline this further on!


Getting started

It’s best to break this up into stages. The first stage of course is to get your dog comfortable with you touching their paws. If your dog can ‘shake’ or ‘high five’, try extending this with their paw in your hand. Each time you hold their paw, reward them with a small treat. Start with short bursts & gradually build up to longer sessions. It won’t be long before your pet is more comfortable with you touching their paws. Remember, your dog will need lots of positive reinforcement!

Introduce the toolbox

Pet nail scissors

There is a variety of nail tools available to suit your dog. Guillotine, guided nail

scissors & filing tools known as nail grinders. We recommend nail grinders for maintaining nails in between trims, they are also good for beginners or anyone worried about trimming too much from the nail.

Again, just as you did in the first stage, getting your

Small Dog Having Nails Trimmed with the Andis Nail Grinder

dog familiar with these tools is key. Gradually introduce your pet to the nail trimmers & grinder without using them. De sensitising them to the sounds & sensation of these tools with plenty of praise & treats along the way.

Ready when you are!

When your dog is comfortable, set yourself a small limit. Try trimming just one nail from the two front paws of your dog. They will signal to you at this stage if they need more training or not.

Make sure you have your equipment & treats nearby. Ensure that your dog is in a secure position, i.e. on some non-slip rubber, special dog mat, or carpet. If you can have someone else to help, make sure they know what their role is, even if it is just moral support!

Secret weapon


We have used this method with our large breed dog just so that he is comfortable & easier for 1 person to manage when trimming his nails.Take a lickimat & smear it with peanut butter. While the dog is distracted, set about trimming & filing their nails. Licking releases endorphins in dogs that relax them. The lickimat is a tool that we recommend highly for this job!


How to trim

Dog nails are made up of two major layers: a dead and nerveless outer layer made of keratin protein surrounding a sensitive blood vessel-packed tissue called the quick. If your dog has clear nails, you can see the pink, tube-like quick in their nail. Never trim above the quick as this will bleed & be painful for your dog. If your dog's nails are black, trim small amounts only to avoid the quick.

  1. Hold the paw firmly & ensure that there is no fur in the way.
  2. For scissor trimmers, hold horizontally and perpendicular to the nail. Ensure you use the guide so you don’t take off too much. For guillotine-style trimmers, hold perpendicular to the nail in a direction that will cut from bottom to top. You want to be able to see where the clipper will be cutting.
  3. Take a small amount off at a time.
  4. Use a nail grinder to finish & file any rough edges.

How to use a nail grinder

  1. Check that the batteries are fully charged.
  2. Hold the paw firmly & ensure there is no fur in the way
  3. Start on a low speed & file across the bottom, ensuring that al
    How to use a pet nail grinder
    l rough edges are smooth.
  4. Carefully move the grinder up so that the sides of the nail are filed to a smooth finish.

Some dog breeds will need their nails trimmed more than others. It is important to train your dog to having their paws handled. Even if you decide against clipping your dog's nails yourself, your groomer or vet will appreciate a dog that is ‘paw-savy’.

For further information, call in & see us in the store, or email us:

4/72-76 Station St Bowral NSW 2576
PH: 024862 1175
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