The second most common question I get asked (the most popular question being Buddha's breeder) is how I trained Buddha to love having his nails trimmed. Although Buddha's breeder had regularly trimmed his nails, it was something he endured, not enjoyed. Being a newbie at dremeling, I initially took him to a professional groomer to trim his nails and do his ear posts. I watched carefully and learned quickly.
The dremeling had been done as fast as possible, with Buddha being held still in my arms as the groomer efficiently and expertly did her job. I noticed though that he hated the process. I realized that once he got bigger, it would be more and more difficult to hold him - plus it would add up to quite an expense for weekly visits!
After doing research on dobermantalk I purchased the Dremel Stylus Lithium Ion and began the process of dremel training. The first time I turned on the dremel, Buddha immediately ran off and hid in the corner. So I cooked up some hamburger meat and began to toss them in his direction every time I turned on the dremel. I would turn it on, toss, wait until he finished his tidbit, and turn it off. On and off, on and off, until he gradually came towards me when I turned it on. This took several days, working only a couple minutes at a time.
Once he started to eagerly come to me at the sound of the dremel, I began to keep it turned on longer and only treated him when I moved the dremel toward his paws. Back and forth, back and forth. Once he was comfortable with that, I touched him very lightly and quickly with the handle part of the dremel while it was still on. The vibration spooked him and he pulled back a few times. I was stuck on this part of the process for another couple of days and I had to remember to stay patient and go very very slow, for very short periods of time.
When he didn't mind the vibrating dremel handle touching his paws, I started the same process over but this time using the file part on one of his nails. A simple quick touch and a treat and we were done for the day.
Next session I did it three times and watched him carefully for any stress levels. Not seeing any, I ended it there on a good note. I always wanted to finish each practice session with him being happy and not stressed. If your dog is anxious, you've probably pushed too far and will want to take a few steps back. I simply continued this day by day and by the 10th day, all the groundwork had been completed and he was running to me at the sound of the dremel.
Over time he learned to relax more and more, and I just added finishing touches to the training such as treating him when he relaxed his head and not when he was alert and watching me. This encouraged his calm behavior and now he is nearly asleep during the whole process.
Even though the groundwork is a bit arduous and time-consuming, the outcome is truly rewarding. I love dremeling! I love that I can just flick the dremel on and Buddha will come running (even if he is in the middle of a nap). I love that Buddha sincerely relaxes during the process, almost like he is getting a massage.
Here are some helpful tips:
-The dremel can get very hot and painful, so be careful not to hurt your pup with it. Don't push it into the nail, simply touch it and let the tool do it's work.
-Try to keep the dremel on a single nail for no more than 3 seconds. Routinely touch your dog's nail to make sure it's not getting too warm.
-I like to trim away the outer hard black edge until I see a white outline inside the nail. When the center looks a little meaty (soft with a slight sheen) you're getting close the quick so stop when you see it.
-I haven't nicked the quick yet but you may want to keep a styptic powder or a styptic pencil nearby to stop any bleeding. I've heard there is an initial sting to this so get ready to hold your pup when you apply gentle pressure to the nail.
-I prefer not hearing any clickity clacks on my hardwood floors. To maintain this length of nail, I trim at least twice a week. It keeps the quick receded and dremel times super quick. Less than 5 minutes for all four paws.
- Save the best treats for the dremel! It'll be an extra special time for you and your pup and both of you will come to enjoy it as much as we do.