How To Cut An Uncooperative Dogs Nails In 4 Simple Steps

If your dog hates grooming, then you might anticipate the task of nail-cutting with all the dread in the world. It’s a universal issue: anxious, panicky dogs don’t particularly take kindly to clippers. However, after observing how my groomer handles it with ease, I realised there are 4 simple steps on how to cut an uncooperative dogs nails.

You should begin by holding your dog’s paws gently but firmly. Place your clippers at a 45-degree angle away from the nail, and then start cutting in extremely small bits. When you start to see a small gray-ish dot in the nail, stop cutting immediately.

Read on to find out how to cut an uncooperative dog’s nails without hurting them. Today, we’ll talk about tips and tricks you could use to handle your dog, as well as some other key details. Hop in!

How Do You Cut An Uncooperative Dog’s Nails

Trimming your dog’s nails is a careful process. If you go overboard, you could hurt your dog, therefore causing it to associate the experience with pain. So the next time you try to do it, you’ll be met by a very uncooperative, fearful dog.

How Do You Cut An Uncooperative Dog's Nails

It’s your job to turn routine nail trims into a positive experience. You’re supposed to do this through patience, care, and reward. With repetition, your dog will go from being uncooperative to perfectly obliging.

We recommend using the wireless Wahl Bravura Lithium Ion Clipper which is lightweight, easy to clean, and quiet which will keep your dog calm during the process.

Step One: Prepare Your Dog

Before taking the plunge and trimming right away, you must physically familiarize your dog with the whole process. 

Begin by holding and lifting your dog’s paws. Start with short periods, like 5 or 20 seconds, and then work your way up to 15, 30 seconds.

If the dog is calm while you hold his toes, shower him with praise and reward. Make sure you do this daily, as repetition will only get him accustomed.

If your dog grows aggressive when you hold his toes, take a firm stance. Gently restrain the dog by placing your arms around his neck. Using a steady, authoritative tone, say: “No.”

Depending on your dog, it can take anything from a few days to weeks to tolerate paw handling. The important thing is to persist.

Step Two: Go for Swimming Breaks

Physically wise, swimming is rewarding for your dog. It’s also beneficial for their mental health: it’s an A-plus stress-reliever. 

See also  5 Simple Processes To Train A Puppy Not To Chew On Wires

If your dog is small enough for it, you could use the tub or the sink as a mini-pool. Hold your dog confidently and let it paddle. If it appears anxious or scared, hold it at an incline, leaving only half of its bottom in the water.

Taking your dogs swimming before nail trims will relax them and drain their energy. The effect will become apparent: less panic, less fidgeting, and more compliance.

Step Three: Soften Your Dog’s Nails

After getting your dog out of the tub, get your nail clippers. Open and close them so that your dog’s ears grow accustomed to the sound. While doing this, make sure to present your dog with treats. 

When your dog becomes eager to hear the sound of the clipper, try presenting it to the nail without actually cutting anything. Be careful when doing this step, as you don’t want to trim just yet.

Finally, put your dog back in the water. Let it paddle for a bit, and then pull out the clipper and place near the nails. Continue offering treats. 

Step Four: Trimming Dogs Nails

After your dog grows compliant and tolerant, you should begin cutting its nails. 

However, it’s important to remember that you shouldn’t dive in all the way just yet. Begin by carefully cutting only one toenail. Then, study your dog’s reaction: are they calm, or uncomfortable? If they start becoming agitated, don’t hesitate to call it a day and leave the rest of the nails for tomorrow.

When cutting, don’t go beyond the tip. Trim straight across and stay away from the curve of the nail. If your dog starts bleeding, apply styptic powder right away.

If you cut beyond the curve of the nail, you risk hitting something called the quick. It’s the core of the nail bed, and if you cut it, you could cause pain for your dog. 

What Do I Do If My Dog Keeps Pulling Their Paw

Say you can’t go beyond step one: you’ve tried getting your dog comfortable with paw handling, and it isn’t working out. Your dog keeps pulling its paw in panic and fear. What do you do?

For starters, you avoid scolding your dog. Punishing it may significantly decrease their resistance, but it’ll make the overall experience negative for them. In the long-term, this can present itself as an obstacle rather than an advantage.

Instead of reprimanding your dog when they pull their paw, give them no reaction. Remember to offer praise and reward when it complies. 

See also  How To Stop A Dog From Digging?(Why Do Dogs Dig Holes?)

However, if the dog refuses to waver, then it’s better to leave the whole matter to a professional. You can then accompany the dog to a veterinarian, who can sedate the dog to complete the trimming process.

[Related Article: How To Restrain A Dog While Grooming Regardless of Size]

How Do I Cut My Dog’s Nails if They’re Dark

How Do I Cut My Dog’s Nails if They’re Dark

If your dog’s nails are dark, you might not be able to see the quick. This makes it harder to know when to stop cutting the nail.

In such cases, you should start trimming nails by cutting super small bits at first. Continue to cut, and only stop when you see the quick. The quick will appear as a black dot in the middle of the toenail.


If you know how to do it right, cutting your dog’s nails can be an extremely pleasant experience. You only need to arm yourself with loads of patience, because you’re going to need it. 

Good luck!

Scroll to Top