Just a touch

The feeling of a clipper, file, or dremel touching a nail can be startling and new for a dog. We have to move slowly, so let’s take it one step at a time and start using some operant conditioning just like we did when we were holding the paw and touching the tool to our wrist. 

Start with a warm-up:

  1. Hold the paw > touch the tool (clipper, file, dremel) to your wrist > mark with a happy “yes!!” > remove the tool, grab food > feed. 
  2. Repeat this until your dog gets a nice clear CER to this exercise.

When you see a positive response, move onto this next step:

  1. Hold the paw > touch the tool (clipper, file, dremel) gently and briefly to the top of the paw > mark with a happy “yes!!” > remove the tool, grab food > feed. 
  2. Repeat this until your dog gets a nice clear CER to this exercise.

Next up:

  1. Hold the paw, grasp the individual nail gently (but not so gently that it’s ticklish) > touch the tool (clipper, file, dremel) to the nail > mark with a happy “yes!!” > remove the tool, grab food > feed. 
  2. Repeat this with each nail until your dog gets a nice clear CER to this exercise. This is going to take a little while because there are a minimum of 10 nails and each needs some TLC! 

Lastly, you’re going to line up the tool with the nail, the way you would if you were to use the tool. Take your time and gently happy-talk your dog through this, watching for signs of stress as you focus on the nail/tool. When you’ve got it lined up the way you like it, say “yes!!” and then let go and feed generously. Do this for each nail. This is practice for YOU! 

YOU too need to feel comfortable so that you can take the next step, which is using the tool.