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How to Trim Your Dog’s Nails at Home (Step-by-Step Guide)

cutting dog`s nails

Trimming your dog’s nails can be a scary experience for a new owner, and dogs that don’t understand what you are doing can create a lot of drama that makes clipping them difficult, if not impossible. However, you will need to trim them if you can hear them clicking on the floor, or they can become uncomfortable and even painful for your dog. Long nails can also cause your dog to slip on a smooth floor, possibly getting injured. If you are not sure how to safely trim your dog’s nails keep reading, and we will provide you with a step-by-step guide that you can reference any time you need to.

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How to Trim Your Dog’s Nails at Home

1. Preparation

Preparation is a key component of successful trimming, and you will need the following supplies before you get started.

  • Treats – Choose your pet’s favorite treat.
  • Nail Clippers – There are multiple types of nail clippers you can use, but we recommend the type with a guard that prevents you from cutting the nail too short.
  • Styptic Powder, flour, or cornstarch – Styptic powder, flour, or cornstarch can help you stop the bleeding if you accidentally cut the nail too short.

2. Create a Positive Atmosphere

 giving dog a treat_Omerlavon, Pixabay
Image Credit: Omerlavon, Pixabay

The best place to start trimming your dog’s nails is by creating a positive and relaxing atmosphere free from stress. Give your dog treats and plenty of praise, so they are happy and comfortable. You may need to do a few tests runs, so the dog gets used to the idea of you playing with its feet, but it will usually be ok if there aren’t many distractions. It may even be a good idea to ask other family members to stay away the first few times.

3. Preparing Your Dog

Dog owner_Piqsels
Image Credit: Piqsels

To prepare your dog to get its nails cut, you can start by picking up one of the paws and holding your finger to one of its toes for a few seconds before letting go. Give your pet a treat and do the same thing the next day and the day after that. Your dog will begin to look forward to this strange time you spend together. Next, you will touch the clippers to the nail to get your pet used to that for a few days before finally attempting to trim a nail if your dog stays relaxed and happy.

4. Trim Your Dog’s Nails

dog paw nail
Image Credit: ulisesbeviglia from Pixabay

If your dog remains calm, you can begin trimming the nails one by one, giving your dog a treat after each nail. We recommend attempting to get three or four nails each day. If your pet begins to struggle or fidget, stop and wait until tomorrow. If your pet is not relaxed, you risk cutting the nail too short, which can cause bleeding. Once you trim all of the nails, you can let them grow until you hear them clicking again.

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How Much Do I Cut?

dog and owner_RebeccasPictures, Pixabay
Image Credit: RebeccasPictures, Pixabay

It can take some practice to learn how short to cut your dog’s nails which is why we recommend a nail trimmer with a guard that prevents you from taking too much off at once. If you cut the nail too short, your dog will yelp and start to bleed. Quickly apply the styptic powder to stop the bleeding and wait a few days before you resume trimming the nails. Once you know how short to trim the nail, you can try other kinds of clippers to find one that suits you.

  • Never get angry at your pet if it doesn’t want to get its nails cut. Doing so will make it like trimmings even less.
  • A rotary sander like the Dremel will allow you to sand away the nail instead of cutting it.
  • If you are unsuccessful in trimming your dog’s nails, you can hire a pro to do it. Dog groomers often have a skilled technician that can help you.



Trimming your dog’s nails is not difficult and only requires a little experience to learn how to keep your dog calm and how much of the nail to remove without causing your dog pain. However, even highly skilled groomers will occasionally trim a nail too short and cause bleeding, so don’t panic if it happens to you. It will scare the dog and slow your reaction time. Put the nail in styptic powder and forget about it.

We hope you have enjoyed reading over this guide and found the answers you needed. If we have helped your pet walk a little more comfortably, please share this guide to safely cutting your dog’s nails on Facebook and Twitter.

Featured Image Credit: Padu Foto, Shutterstock

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