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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It seems like I’ve read every post about nail clipping but we are still not making a whole lot of progress. Bella is going on 6 months now. Grooming in general isn’t an issue. She also lets me handle her paws and touch her nails. I do that every day to get her used to it. We touch her paws with the clippers and she’s fine with that. Things change when we actually proceed to clip. The fact that her nails are predominantly black is not helping. Today my husband held her and and the clippers. I tried to feed her treats but she just ignored them. She kept squirming and even nipped at him. We stopped that unacceptable behavior and got her to calm down again. My husband cut a couple of nails, we praised her and decided to give it a rest because she was panting and just stressed. As soon as he set her down she went to her crate and didn’t want anything to do with us for 5 minutes. She came back out but is still sulking as I type, lol. I don’t know if we are doing something wrong or if we’re doing it right and just need more patience. But such drama over a couple of nails seems ridiculous. Bella has never tasted cheese or peanut butter. Should I try a new treat like that for nail clipping? I need to find a way to get and keep her distracted. She’s so sweet in general except for this one issue.
 

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It seems like I’ve read every post about nail clipping but we are still not making a whole lot of progress. Bella is going on 6 months now. Grooming in general isn’t an issue. She also lets me handle her paws and touch her nails. I do that every day to get her used to it. We touch her paws with the clippers and she’s fine with that. Things change when we actually proceed to clip. The fact that her nails are predominantly black is not helping. Today my husband held her and and the clippers. I tried to feed her treats but she just ignored them. She kept squirming and even nipped at him. We stopped that unacceptable behavior and got her to calm down again. My husband cut a couple of nails, we praised her and decided to give it a rest because she was panting and just stressed. As soon as he set her down she went to her crate and didn’t want anything to do with us for 5 minutes. She came back out but is still sulking as I type, lol. I don’t know if we are doing something wrong or if we’re doing it right and just need more patience. But such drama over a couple of nails seems ridiculous. Bella has never tasted cheese or peanut butter. Should I try a new treat like that for nail clipping? I need to find a way to get and keep her distracted. She’s so sweet in general except for this one issue.
I was wondering if you have tried a dremel vs. clippers. Mia prefers the dremel. My yorkie prefers clippers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I have not. I’ve been hesitant to buy another gadget because I think it “should” be getting easier
and that it’s just a phase. I guess it’s worth a try. Is there a particular one you’d recommend?
 

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I have not. I’ve been hesitant to buy another gadget because I think it “should” be getting easier
and that it’s just a phase. I guess it’s worth a try. Is there a particular one you’d recommend?
I bought a dremel many years ago at the hardware store. I found that they are made better than the ones for pets. Someone else may be able to suggest which one is best. The other thing you might want to try as long as you are okay with the husband holding the dog is for him to hold the dog and you to do the holding and trimming of the foot. I believe you mentioned that your husband was doing the holding and trimming. You may be able to get a better grip if you do the holding and trimming of the foot while your husband just holds the dog. This is what we do. I would love to do them without the husband but I have not had luck with that so far! It helps to get a firm grip on the foot but not to squeeze too much.
 

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I don’t remember how long you have had Bella, and you didn’t mention how often you work on this. But it SOUNDS like this is something you “gird your loins” to try to work on once in a while? So you have probably had some one forcibly clip her nails intermittently in between, convincing her even more what a terrible ordeal this whole thing is. If so, it isn’t going to get better any time soon, unfortunately.

I agree with everything MPM said. Dremeling completely changed the attitude of my older two dogs. HOWEVER, she is so averse to you “doing things” to her nails that even that is going to need careful, FREQUENT and repetitive exposure before she begins to trust the process. Higher value food is not going to help if she is that over-threshhold.

You will need to work with her every day. First with the Dremel off, touching every nail, feeding a tiny cookie for each nail. When she is accepting that, turn the Dremel on while she is eating. Hold it just close enough to her that she notices it but shows no fear. Over time, move it closer to her (as long as it takes, but NO LESS THAN a week) until you can actually touch her with the vibrating handle end without it scaring her.

When you have been anle to touch her with the handle of the turned-on Dremel for at least a week while she is eating, start touching the HANDLE end to her hails, one at a time while tou feed her treats. If one of you needs to hold her and feed treats while the other does the Dremel, that’s fine. If she will only tolerate one nail, that’s as far as you go. BUT you HAVE to do it the next day, and the next and the next, until she realizes it isn’t going to hurt her.

When you can touch all nails with the handle, it’s time to turn it around and use the grinding end. Just barely touch it to the nail to start with. This part is likely to go faster, because she is already used to the noise, vibration and touching. DON’T GET GREEDY! Do a nail or two, cookies and let it go to the next day. Build up slowly, but you SHOULD be very close to having her desensitized to them by now.

When she feels really relaxed about it, you can start doing more nails at a time, then more grinding on the nails. Finally, get in the habit of doing nails every week or two at most. This is a good interval to keep nails at a good length anyway (and Havanese nails grow FAST!) and it keeps her remembering that it’s not such a bad thing.

You will probably always have to clip her dew claws… I haven’t found a good way to Dremel those without getting hair caught. But you will probably find that she relaxes about those too, because the whole “nail clipping drama” has gone away.
 

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When operating the clippers, squeeze lightly first, to see if there is a reaction. If a reaction, move out a bit on the nail, and try again. If no reaction, clip.
Yes, for sure, if you are sticking with clippers rather than moving to a Dremel. Also REALLY important, (and ALSO learned from the Kings) the KIND of nail trimmer matters. A LOT. Poor nail trimmers pinch and crush. Good nail trimmers are very sharp, and cut through a nail like butter. These are the ones Pam King recommended to me, and switching to them made a HUGE difference.

 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I thank you and the others for taking the time to answer. Better nail trimmers would be a good start. At this point, I’m giving it two more weeks of just handling her feet daily. Then she’ll go to the groomer. I will see what she says about Bella’s behavior. It sounds like a cop out, but I just don’t want to be the “bad guy” right now. If she tolerates clipping there, I’ll get the clippers you suggested and try again before getting a dremel. My husband just laughed when I mentioned that method. He has little faith I guess. In my reading of practically every post on the subject, I came across one of yours from years ago where you jokingly called yourself a nail clipping failure. It actually made me feel better: I’ve come to realize that it’s just going to take a while to get more experienced and to figure out what works with an individual dog. The good news: Bella is a pet and I will just have to stress less. Both my husband and I work full time but since he is self-employed, he takes her to work. She’s the darling of the building. People stop by just to say hello and pet her. I now understand why Havs make good therapy dogs. I know I have a lot of questions and really appreciate your advice!!! Don’t give up on me😉
 

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Bella's Mom, sometimes dogs feel when you are hesitant about something and they react. My hav, Shadow, was bathed by me yesterday and would not stand still for me. He just wanted out of that tub. My groomer says he is an angel. I differ with that!
My previous dog was groomed every 2 weeks. He gave her kisses while she cut his nails. My groomer has been grooming for close to 40 years. She knows what she is doing and the dogs know it too and act accordingly.
 

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I thank you and the others for taking the time to answer. Better nail trimmers would be a good start. At this point, I’m giving it two more weeks of just handling her feet daily. Then she’ll go to the groomer. I will see what she says about Bella’s behavior. It sounds like a cop out, but I just don’t want to be the “bad guy” right now. If she tolerates clipping there, I’ll get the clippers you suggested and try again before getting a dremel. My husband just laughed when I mentioned that method. He has little faith I guess. In my reading of practically every post on the subject, I came across one of yours from years ago where you jokingly called yourself a nail clipping failure. It actually made me feel better: I’ve come to realize that it’s just going to take a while to get more experienced and to figure out what works with an individual dog. The good news: Bella is a pet and I will just have to stress less. Both my husband and I work full time but since he is self-employed, he takes her to work. She’s the darling of the building. People stop by just to say hello and pet her. I now understand why Havs make good therapy dogs. I know I have a lot of questions and really appreciate your advice!!! Don’t give up on me😉
💕 No one will give up on you! We all start somewhere (as you have learned if you've gone back far enough on the forum to read my early posts!) I, literally, "grew up here", in terms of the dog world!
 
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Lots to learn for sure. “Drop it” and “Roll over” breakthrough today - no treats. It’s the little things 🤣
 

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Lots to learn for sure. “Drop it” and “Roll over” breakthrough today - no treats. It’s the little things 🤣
Keep the treats coming, just make sure they are not in your hands when you give the cue. The mistake people make with treats is letting them become a lure or “bribe” rather than a reward. Once the dog knows what to do, she should never need you to “show her the goods” before she’ll perform. It is ALWAYS appropriate to reward for a job well done! :) ESPECIALLY in the case of something so hard and so critically important as “drop it”. When I have to tell my dog to “drop it”, we then RUN together to the kitchen to get a cookie as a thank you for being such a good dog!!!
 

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Keep the treats coming, just make sure they are not in your hands when you give the cue. The mistake people make with treats is letting them become a lure or “bribe” rather than a reward. Once the dog knows what to do, she should never need you to “show her the goods” before she’ll perform. It is ALWAYS appropriate to reward for a job well done! :) ESPECIALLY in the case of something so hard and so critically important as “drop it”. When I have to tell my dog to “drop it”, we then RUN together to the kitchen to get a cookie as a thank you for being such a good dog!!!
Great advice. We are really focusing on drop it at the moment as part of Ernie’s resource guarding management. I underestimate how critical this is! There are so many nuances, I hadn’t considered not having the treat in hand 🤔 but that makes perfect sense. My fear at the moment is that he is seeking out items that he knows he’ll be rewarded for for giving up.

We also need to make a ton of progress on nail trimming and socializing, you aren’t in this alone OP!
 

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It seems like I’ve read every post about nail clipping but we are still not making a whole lot of progress. Bella is going on 6 months now. Grooming in general isn’t an issue. She also lets me handle her paws and touch her nails. I do that every day to get her used to it. We touch her paws with the clippers and she’s fine with that. Things change when we actually proceed to clip. The fact that her nails are predominantly black is not helping. Today my husband held her and and the clippers. I tried to feed her treats but she just ignored them. She kept squirming and even nipped at him. We stopped that unacceptable behavior and got her to calm down again. My husband cut a couple of nails, we praised her and decided to give it a rest because she was panting and just stressed. As soon as he set her down she went to her crate and didn’t want anything to do with us for 5 minutes. She came back out but is still sulking as I type, lol. I don’t know if we are doing something wrong or if we’re doing it right and just need more patience. But such drama over a couple of nails seems ridiculous. Bella has never tasted cheese or peanut butter. Should I try a new treat like that for nail clipping? I need to find a way to get and keep her distracted. She’s so sweet in general except for this one issue.
Bun Bun HATED getting her nails clipped. She just would squirm and wrestle away. I used to work at a vet a LONG time ago and clipped nails on dogs daily... so I was pretty frustrated when she wouldn't sit still. This is what my husband and I ended up doing: My husband held her on his lap and I gave her a treat. Then he held up her front left paw. I clipped the nail furthest to the left and then gave her lots of praise and a treat and put her down. The next night we did the same routine, but trimmed the next toenail. The following night we did the same routine with the next nail. We trimmed one nail a night with lots of praise and a treat each time. This way she wasn't squirming a long time in his lap and I wasn't getting stressed out. Over time (a couple weeks) she would allowed me to a few toes at once. I give her a treat after every clip. Now (for the last year) we do her front feet in one sitting one week and her back feet in one sitting the following week. She is so squirmy she is done after 2 feet... but she is soooooo much better than when we first started. I keep a paper towel and liquid super clot near enough to grab in case I accidentally clip too far (she has black nails). If an accident does happen, I don't make a big deal about it. I just squirt a little super clot on the paper towel and hold it on the nail for a few seconds. I also give her a couple treats. She picks up on my stress and attitude. If I am happy and calm, she tends to be happy and calm.
 

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Bun Bun HATED getting her nails clipped. She just would squirm and wrestle away. I used to work at a vet a LONG time ago and clipped nails on dogs daily... so I was pretty frustrated when she wouldn't sit still. This is what my husband and I ended up doing: My husband held her on his lap and I gave her a treat. Then he held up her front left paw. I clipped the nail furthest to the left and then gave her lots of praise and a treat and put her down. The next night we did the same routine, but trimmed the next toenail. The following night we did the same routine with the next nail. We trimmed one nail a night with lots of praise and a treat each time. This way she wasn't squirming a long time in his lap and I wasn't getting stressed out. Over time (a couple weeks) she would allowed me to a few toes at once. I give her a treat after every clip. Now (for the last year) we do her front feet in one sitting one week and her back feet in one sitting the following week. She is so squirmy she is done after 2 feet... but she is soooooo much better than when we first started. I keep a paper towel and liquid super clot near enough to grab in case I accidentally clip too far (she has black nails). If an accident does happen, I don't make a big deal about it. I just squirt a little super clot on the paper towel and hold it on the nail for a few seconds. I also give her a couple treats. She picks up on my stress and attitude. If I am happy and calm, she tends to be happy and calm.
What you are doing with your consistency and persistence is PERFECT! The thing is, if you'd switch to a Dremel, you'd never quick her again, you'd never have the FEAR of quicking her again, SHE'D never have the fear of getting g quicked again. Everyone would start to calm down and relax. I wish I could convince people of this. It is amazing how dogs who fight nail clippers will just sit and let you do it once they are acclimated to the idea of the Dremel. Because it just never hurts.
 
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What you are doing with your consistency and persistence is PERFECT! The thing is, if you'd switch to a Dremel, you'd never quick her again, you'd never have the FEAR of quicking her again, SHE'D never have the fear of getting g quicked again. Everyone would start to calm down and relax. I wish I could convince people of this. It is amazing how dogs who fight nail clippers will just sit and let you do it once they are acclimated to the idea of the Dremel. Because it just never hurts.
I very rarely quick her, but am interested in a Dremel. My hesitation in getting one is that I have never used one and would not know when to stop before getting to the quick. Is it the same bullseye look on a black nail? Or is there some other way to tell? What happens if I use it too long?
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I have the same questions and would be hesitant the first time at least. Bella would pick up on that for sure. But I will give it a try in a couple of weeks. Will you let me know how it goes with Bun Bun?
 

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I very rarely quick her, but am interested in a Dremel. My hesitation in getting one is that I have never used one and would not know when to stop before getting to the quick. Is it the same bullseye look on a black nail? Or is there some other way to tell? What happens if I use it too long?
Yes, it is exactly the same “look” when you are getting close. Just much more controllable. Plus you can easily grind AROUND the quick as you work. This allows you to get ake the quick back without pain. The vibration also encourages the quick to retract over time. Another nice advantage is that you end up with a nice smooth nail with no sharp edges.
 

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I have the same questions and would be hesitant the first time at least. Bella would pick up on that for sure. But I will give it a try in a couple of weeks. Will you let me know how it goes with Bun Bun?
The nice thing about introducing it systematically, the way Karen described, is it gives you time to warm up to it and get comfortable, too.
 
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