It’s been eight months since the grooming mishap when I cut Kali’s dew claw too close and she ended up needing minor surgery to repair it; actually to remove it because it was cracked and kept bleeding. I spent days kicking myself at the time for hurting her and since then I’ve been very reluctant to have another go at it trimming nails. Surely Kali would pick up on my reluctance and anxiety if i was to try again so I’ve put it off.
When Kali had a professional teeth cleaning a few months ago the vet trimmed her dew claws since she was out for the count during the cleaning. Recently I’ve noticed that they have been growing very fast and I knew I would need to do something soon. This morning she spent about 20 minutes nibbling on her paws; specifically her dew claws. They were obviously bothering her and I had put off doing anything too long. They were pretty long and beginning to curl. My bad…
At the time of her surgery to correct my blunder my vet suggested I look into getting a nail grinder and begin to slowly get Kali accustomed to the sound of the grinder while working my way up to actually using it on her nails. I never got around to doing this -until this morning. Before heading to the pet store I did some reading on line to get a basic idea of what was available. The clerks at the pet store I go to are very educated on the products they sell and I trust them. A simple “starter” model was suggested, I paid the clerk, and was on my way home to begin what I thought would be a days-long process to get Kali used to the sound of the grinder. I figured that I would have to slowly graduate up to holding her paw in my hand while the grinder was turning, and then finally actually using it.
I purposely didn’t take Kali with me to the pet store this morning because she gets a little antsy if I stand around talking to the clerks too long and I had a lot of questions about the grinders and proper technique. When I arrived home Kali was immediately interested in the bag I had in my hand. She came up to me, nudged the bag, smelled it, and decided that it might be food, or have something to do with food because her nose told her it was from the pet store. I seized the opportunity to reward her for her interest and gave her a couple of biscuits while making a big deal out of the bag. Kali stayed by my side as I took the grinder out of the packaging. The grinder was seated in that very annoying rigid plastic clam shell packaging that has absolutely no effective method to open without using a chain saw unless you have grizzly bear paws for hands. If I ever meet the person who came up with that packaging idea I will punch him or her straight in the face. But I digress…
As I struggle and complain about the packaging Kali remains fixed on the grinder, now even more sure that it will lead to food. I continued to reward her with a couple of more biscuits while I inserted the batteries.
I went to the refrigerator and pulled out the high value treats I keep in a jar; small pieces of beef and chicken rolls that I cut into bite-size pieces. If I didn’t have Kali’s full attention before I certainly did now! I sat down with the open jar on the table, the grinder in my hand, and Kali in front of me. OK, I thought – let’s see how she does with the sound… I turn on the grinder keeping it a fair distance from Kali as I hand her a treat. She doesn’t flinch other than to flick her eyes back at the jar on the table. Smokey on the other hand is a bit skittish with anything that sounds even remotely like the vacuum cleaner (at only 11 pounds you can’t blame him!) and he goes running under the table seeking quick shelter from the noise. The difference in focus for Kali and Smokey at this juncture was not surprising. Kali’s only interest is the jar of treats and how she can get more. Smokey was interested in not getting vacuumed up….
I continued to turn on and off the grinder while rewarding Kali for her calm demeanor and focus. I wasn’t planning on putting the grinder anywhere near her paws, let alone dew claws, for the first few sessions but things were going very well. So after a quick trim of the hairs around her dew claws I had Kali take a full down position with me also sitting on the ground. I held her dew claw in my left hand and gave her a treat. With her paw still in my hand I turned on the grinder and while it whirred I gave her a treat. She was loving life at this point. “What paw?”, she seemed to say. I positioned her claw next to the grinder and gently pushed it towards the spinning grinder pad. With a puff of smoke the dew claw was reduced by about an eight of an inch. After more treats and more grinding the claw was back to an acceptable length. I moved on to the other paw and after only a matter of minutes we were done.
Kali was an absolute angel. I was very proud of her and proud of myself for knowing her tendencies, when to push a bit and when to back off. Today worked out great for both of us and although the dew claws are not quite as short as I’d like I didn’t want to push my luck. I wanted to end on a positive note and so we did. We’ll have have another session in the next day or so to finish up.
Do any of you use nail grinders on your pups? I’d love to hear about how it works for you.
Outstanding job, Michael (and Kali!). When Sam’s claws get too long, we run faster on sidewalks and pavement and that seems to ‘file’ them down. Course he also gets regular grooming sessions where I’m sure the groomer files/cuts them a bit as well. Our big issue seems to be shaving near the bum end. Sam hates that! 🙂
I’ve never used the grinder, but I do use pretty much the same system you use when trimming my dog’s nails (and my daughter’s dog, and my son’s two dogs, and my mother’s dog…I hate trimming nails, but for some reason, it seems to be my lot in life.) It doesn’t take long before they associate nail trimming with treats, and then they don’t mind so much. And it’s easy to get them too short, I hope you forgive yourself for that. It seems to me that her dew claw must have been already splitting if it required surgery after you trimmed it. It’s hard to trim nails, and we need to be gentle with ourselves when we’re doing it as well as the dogs. Kali knows you love her…
Thanks for the feedback and encouragement Ann. I appreciate it. And, yes I’ve forgiven myself for the mishap; it took me several days after it happened but only too Kali a few seconds. I’ve learned a lot from this pup for sure.
Grinding Ray’s nails is the only workable solution to nail trimming. 🙂
Thanks Colin. Is Ray a willing participant or do you have “methods” for encouraging him?
He is a reluctant participant. We bribe our way through nail grinding with pieces of celery, kale, carrot or whatever we have around here at the time that he likes!