How To Cut An Uncooperative Dog’s Nails: 14 Tips

how to cut an uncooperative dogs nails

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Dogs are great. They’re loyal, loving, and always happy to see you. 

But, they can also be a bit of a challenge when it comes to clipping their nails. 

If your dog hates nail trim, or if it’s particularly uncooperative, follow these 14 tips on how to trim a dog’s nails when they hate it (stress-free).


Why won’t my dog let me cut his nails?

Many dogs aren’t used to having their nails clipped. 

Even if you’ve been doing it from puppyhood, your dog may have a bad experience that causes him to hate getting his nails clipped. Their paws can be sensitive and clipping their nails often leads to a quick squeal or nip. You might think this is a sign of aggression, but it’s more likely that they’re just scared.

Some dogs are also uncomfortable around the nail clippers because they hear the clicking sound of the clippers and associate this with pain.

Why is it important to cut your dog’s nails?

Most dogs neglect their own grooming and don’t pay much attention to their nails until they’re long enough to cause them discomfort. Long nails can curl under and grow into the pads on your dog’s toes, leading to infection and pain. And even if they haven’t grown into the toe pads yet, long nails can make it harder for your dog to walk properly.

14 tips on how to cut an aggressive dog’s nails:

1. Take your dog to the vet

If you haven’t done this already, take your dog to the vet to have his nails trimmed. A professional groomer or veterinarian will know how to properly hold your dog so he’s comfortable and won’t try to get away. Plus, they’ll be able to tell you exactly what your dog needs so you can avoid painful ingrown nails.

2. Try wrapping your dog in a towel

If you prefer not to take your pooch to the vet, try this simple trick that makes him feel secure and gives you access to all four of his paws. You can also use an old t-shirt or any other type of material that’s light enough for you to cut through, but thick enough to prevent you from cutting your pet’s skin.

3. Choose the right time of day for your dog’s nail clipping session

If possible, avoid trimming nails after meals or immediately before activities like walks and playtime. Feeding your dog can make him feel very vulnerable, so save his snacks for later on in the day. And as much as your dog loves going on walks, it’s a strenuous activity that can also make him feel uneasy.

4. Groom your dog before beginning the session

If you plan on using the towel method, start by brushing and combing your pet so his fur is tangle-free and easier to cut through. If your dog is particularly uncooperative, try trimming his nails when he’s tired (after a walk or play session) so he won’t feel like running away. 

You can also take him outside to go potty before beginning the nail clipping session – dogs usually need to empty their bladders before settling down for the night.

5. Have treats on hand

Dogs are clever creatures who are always trying to get what they want. If you’ve got a few tasty treats, use them as an incentive to keep your dog still during nail clipping sessions. You can also give him one treat after every successful clip to reinforce the positive behavior.

6. Use a designated pair of clippers for your dog

If you’ve got standard human nail clippers, make sure to keep them in a safe place away from other household pets. Dogs are sometimes drawn to the smell of metal and may chew through the blades or cause damage that makes using them impossible. You should also avoid using human fingernail clippers because they’re simply too dull to cut through your furry friend’s nails.

7. Try using a Dremel-style tool

Dremel makes nail clippers that are specifically designed for pets, so you can avoid the sharp corners of traditional metal clippers and give yourself more room to maneuver. If you use this type of device, keep it on a low speed so your dog won’t feel vibrations from the tool.

8. Try a nail file instead of clippers

Running a nail file over your puppy’s nails is another way to keep them short and avoid pain from sharp edges or ingrown nails. You can also buy special sanding sticks that turn into powder when they run over your pet’s nails. These are a bit more expensive than traditional clippers, but they’re gentler and less likely to cause pain.

9. Introduce your dog to the clippers before beginning

Start by getting him used to the sound of metal on his nails, then try moving the clipper up and down without actually trimming anything. Praise your dog for good behavior and give him a treat or belly rub after each successful step. After a few days, you can begin using the clippers on his nails without any additional preparation.

10. Have your pet’s nails properly trimmed at least once every month

The frequency of your dog’s nail clipping sessions is going to depend on several factors, including the length of his nails and how often he runs around on hard surfaces. But unless you have a very old dog who can’t walk around as much as he used to, aim for at least one monthly pedicure.

11. Ask a friend or family member for help

If you’ve got a particularly stubborn dog, ask a friend or family member to come over and give you a hand with the nail clipping session. This person should be someone your pet is comfortable with, so if you have kids they may not be able to help unless they’re old enough to control their movements.

12.   Use a muzzle

Dogs tend to be afraid of muzzles, but if you have a pet who goes berserk whenever he hears the sound of clippers, they could help calm him down. Muzzles can also prevent your dog from accidentally biting you while you’re cutting his nails – something that’s especially important if he has long nails or isn’t used to having his feet handled.

13.  Be patient

Getting your dog comfortable with nail trimming sessions takes time, so make sure you’re ready to spend several weeks acclimating him before trying it for the first time. If you try to rush things, he may become afraid or begin fighting against the grooming process, so be patient and try to relax even if your pet seems wary at first.

14. How to restrain a dog to clip its nails

If you’re really struggling to get your pet into the mood for nail clipping, try using a leash and harness that he’s comfortable with. You can then gently guide him into place, which may make it easier for you to keep track of his movements when trimming his nails. If this doesn’t work, you may have a larger issue with “clipping anxiety” and should probably put off your grooming session until next month.


It’s a good idea to have your vet show you how first, but with these 14 tips and tricks on dog nail care, we’re pretty sure you’ll be able to handle it. We hope this post will help make that process go as smoothly as possible for you!

 Good luck and happy grooming!

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