Many breeds of dogs grow hair between their toes. While this hair is natural, it can cause a range of problems. For instance, in the winter, it can catch ice and snow, causing tiny snowballs to form between your dog’s paws. It can also become dirty, attract bugs, or even tangle. Therefore, it’s often best to trim your dog’s paws—even if it is the only part of their body you trim.
I have a Siberian Husky, and his paws get very hairy. They have to be trimmed every few months, but that is the only part of his body I ever take a pair of scissors to.
Luckily, trimming your dog’s paws isn’t terribly challenging if you know what you’re doing. Here are some tips to make it go as smoothly as possible:
The 8 Tips on How to Trim Hair on Dogs Paws
1. Pick the Right Scissors
You’ll want to select the right tools for the job. Otherwise, you’ll find the whole experience much more complicated than it needs to be. We recommend round-tipped scissors that are specifically designed for dogs. Small clippers work, too, especially if you have a larger dog. It’s much easier to be precise with smaller scissors, though.
You’ll probably need to purchase special grooming tools just for your pet’s paws (and face). The larger scissors and clippers sold for dogs just don’t work well on paws.
2. Handle Your Dog’s Feet
The hardest part of trimming your dog’s feet is having your pet sit still for the endeavor. You can help them sit still longer by handling their feet regularly. If your dog is particularly against anyone touching their feet, you may need to have several sessions where you just touch your dog’s feet and give them treats. This helps them be a bit more comfortable with all the foot-touching, making your job much easier.
We highly recommend starting this process as early as possible. It’s much easier to get puppies used to their feet being handled than adult dogs. However, don’t fret if your dog is already older. You can train them to accept their feet being handled, too.
3. Cut Enough Fur
It’s pretty normal for pet owners to be fearful of taking too much hair. However, when it comes to your dog’s paws (especially between their toes), this isn’t really possible. You should generally aim to cut your dog’s paw fur as short as possible unless you’re going for a very particular grooming style. Some breeds do have longer fur on their paws and will be exceptions to this rule.
However, if you’re just trying to trim between your dog’s toes, cut the fur as close as you can. It will help extend the time between trimmings and make your dog comfortable.
Of course, don’t get so close that you accidentally cut your dog. You’ll still have a small covering of fur. Your goal isn’t to get all of it.
4. Get All the Cracks
I can’t tell you how many times I trimmed my dog’s paws, thinking I had gotten everything—only for the hair to peak out of some crack I missed only a few days later. Dog paws have many crevices for hair to hide in. It’s important for you to get in all of these cracks. Take your time and be thorough.
While you may be in a rush because of your dog’s waning patience, the last thing you want is to need to trim their paws again in a week. If you’re in doubt, it does help to have an extra set of hands to go over the paw again and ensure you didn’t miss a spot.
You can use a soft-bristled brush to help pull the hair up if needed. However, try to skip this step if you can, as many dogs particularly don’t like the feel of bristles between their toes.
5. Follow the Natural Shape of the Paw
When trimming the top of the paw, follow the paw’s natural shape—unless you’re following a particular style and know what you’re doing. In other words, try to have the fur about the same length all around the paw to give it a natural, clean appearance.
When in doubt, you may want to ask a groomer how to trim the top of your dog’s paw. Of course, in the world of the internet and YouTube, it’s pretty easy to find guides specific to your dog’s breed.
6. Hold Your Dog’s Leg Close
We recommend holding your dog’s leg close to your body while trimming the paw—not just holding the paw. This helps the dog feel more secure and prevents kicking. If you’re just holding the dog’s paw and they try to kick, there isn’t much you can do. However, if you’re holding their leg, you can help stop much of the movement.
It may help to have an extra set of hands, too. One person can hold the leg and stabilize the paw, while the other can do the trimming. Either way, just be sure the whole leg is stabilized.
7. Use Coconut Oil
Trimming can leave your dog’s paws a bit uncomfortable. Therefore, you may want to rub their paws with coconut oil or even a dog-specific lotion. This helps their paws stay hydrated and can prevent irritation. It’s similar to how humans put on lotion after shaving.
There are many other natural oils and balms that are safe for your dog, too. In the end, just be sure to use something formulated for dogs.
8. Don’t Forget Lots of Treats
You should reward your dog throughout the process and afterward. Grooming can be stressful for your dog, especially if they aren’t used to it. Providing them with plenty of treats helps ensure that they see the situations as positive, which may help make things easier next time.
Plus, treats can be a huge distraction while you’re getting busy. Giving your dog treats while you’re trimming can be a fantastic job for a child, too, especially if they want to help. For dogs that are extra unsure of grooming, consider a chew or filling a Kong with peanut butter (or another yummy treat).
Trimming your dog’s paws is an often-overlooked part of their grooming needs. However, it’s essential to prevent mats and dirt from building up between their toes. Plus, fur on the paws tends to get very messy.
It may seem like a huge ordeal. However, it isn’t terribly complicated. With just a few tips and guidelines, you can easily trim your dog’s paws at home.
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