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How to Trim Dog Nails: A Complete Guide

You’d do anything for your dog, and you want to be sure that you keep them as healthy and comfortable as possible. Trimming your dog’s nails keeps them comfy, active, and ready to play, but many owners are afraid to dive in and trim those cute little paws. Fear not: we’ve got you covered. here, we’ll go over everything you need to know about how to give your pooch the pedicure they deserve.

Trimming Your Dog’s Nails: Why It Matters

Before you decide to take on the task of trimming your dog’s nails, take a look, and see whether it’s time for a trim. Active dogs who spend much of their time running/walking on concrete or blacktop may not need regular nail trims. The concrete can wear their nails down, much like a nail file.

One way to know your dog needs a trim? Listen for the telltale click-clack sound. When a dog’s nails touch the ground when the dog is walking, each step the dog takes can put pressure on their nail bed. This can be painful for your dog. Pressure on the nail bed as your dog walks can force them to distribute their weight unusually. Over time, this can cause a misalignment of your dog’s joints.

Your dog can also experience painful tearing of the nails if their nails aren’t trimmed. If a long nail gets caught on a piece of furniture, the carpet, or even in a toy, it can cause an injury that may be serious enough to require veterinary care.

Trimming your dog’s dewclaws (the thumb-style claws above the paws on their front legs) is especially important. Left uncared for, these claws can grow back into their soft tissue. This can be painful and can put your dog at risk for infection.

Getting Your Pup Comfortable

If it’s your first time trimming your dog’s nails, it’s important to take some time to help your dog get comfortable. Depending on your dog’s temperament, this may mean spending several days helping your dog get used to you handling their paws, hearing the sound of the clippers, and having their nails trimmed.

On the first day, set the nail clippers or grinders on the ground near your pet. As soon as they go near the clippers, give them a treat or praise to begin the process of establishing positive reinforcement. The next day, handle your dog’s paw while also handling the clippers. Again, provide your dog with plenty of positive praise.

As your dog becomes comfortable with seeing the clippers and having their paws handled, trim the tip of one nail (continue reading for more information on exactly how to trim), then provide treats and praise. Set the clippers aside for the rest of the day. Using your dog’s responses as a guide, gradually increase the number of nails you trim at a time.

It can be tempting to rush through the process of clipping your dog’s nails. However, doing so can make your dog afraid of the clippers. This can cause them to have a negative association with seeing clippers and having their paws handled. Taking your time and moving at a pace appropriate for your dog’s personality can help make nail clipping get easier and easier.

What’s The Deal With The Quick?

Every dog owner’s worst nail trimming fear: clipping the quick.

Your dog’s nails contain a blood vessel known as the “quick,” as well as a nerve. If you cut a dog’s nail too short, it can cause pain (due to a clipped nerve) and bleeding.

It’s usually easy to see the quick in dogs with white nails, but it can be a little tougher for dogs with black nails. After trimming a tiny bit of the nail, take a look at the center of the flat, newly clipped area. If you can see any white or pink (regardless of the color of your dog’s nail), you’re close to the quick and don’t need to trim any further.

The Big Day: Time To Trim

Before You Start, Read This: You may cut your dog’s nail too close to the quick, causing pain and bleeding. Try not to panic: many dog owners make this mistake. Have styptic powder on hand and apply it to the cut area of the nail quickly to stop the bleeding. If you don’t have styptic powder, cornstarch or flour can work well. Usually, the bleeding will stop and the injury won’t require any medical attention.

nail clipper for dogs

Use a sharp, fresh pair of plier-style clippers with an adjustable guide that can help ensure that you don’t cut the nail too short. Even if you’re nervous, do your best to speak in reassuring, positive tones. Your dog will follow your lead.

Hold your dog’s paw gently and firmly. Using the guide, clip the curved tip of the nail at a 45-degree angle, a little bit at a time. Be sure to pause after each clip to check the color of the clipped surface. Clipping in small increments ensures that you’re not getting too close to the quick.

Veterinary cutting the nails of a dog

Continue making small clips until the cut surface begins to show a chalky white ring (for dogs with black nails) with a black or pink center. For dogs with white nails, keep an eye out for a faint black or pink spot in the center of the cut surface.

When you’re done trimming your dog’s nails, provide your pup with lots of love and treats. Let them know that they did a great job, and know that clipping their nails will get easier each time.

What About Grinding?

Grinding your dog’s nails instead of clipping can work well. The best tool for trimming nails? Whichever option causes your dog less stress. The same principles of trimming nails with a plier-style clipper apply to using a grinder. Take plenty of time getting your dog used to the grinder (especially the vibrations and noise). If your dog has long hair, you may need to trim the fur around their nails before grinding. Long hair can get tangled in the grinder, creating a painful experience for your dog.

When To Let Your Veterinarian Take Over

Sometimes, it can be better to work with your veterinarian to provide your pooch with the nail care that they need. First, know that this should be reserved for situations in which there’s a problem with your dog’s nail. Don’t depend on your veterinarian to trim your dog’s nails once a year. If this is the only time your dog gets their nails trimmed, it can teach them to be anxious and fearful both of going to the vet and of having their paws handled.

Signs that you should let a veterinary professional take over include:

  • your dog has an injury that affects their paws, and you’re worried that trimming their nails could cause further injury
  • your dog’s dewclaw has grown back into their soft tissue, and you’re unable to remove the clipped part of the nail
  • your dog has a jagged nail due to breaking (your veterinarian can work with you to find a solution to stop the jagged nail from snagging on household objects while the break heals)

If you’re in doubt about whether you can trim your dog’s nails, reach out to your vet, groomer, or dog trainer. They can give you tips, recommend specific trimmer options, and help you to work with your dog’s personality to create a positive experience.

Pro Tips

  • Start trimming your dog’s nails as early as possible. If you can get your dog used to having their nails handled and trimmed as a puppy, you’re setting them up for a lifetime of low-stress nail trims.
  • Trim your dog’s nails until they don’t tap against the floor – no more. There’s no need to go above and beyond the bare minimum to keep your dog walking and playing comfortably.
  • Remember, your dog feeling stress and showing anxiety around nail trims doesn’t mean they’re giving you a hard time. It means they’re having a hard time, and they’re looking to you for comfort. Know that it may take some time for your dog to get comfortable with the idea of nail trims, especially if they’re coming from an environment in which they weren’t groomed.
  • It may seem easier to have the groomer trim your dog’s nails, but doing it at home means you get to create a low-stress environment for your pet, and you get to control how short your dog’s nails are trimmed.
  • While every dog is different, trimming your dog’s nails once a month is usually a good way to keep up with nail growth.
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Using a Puppy to Teach a Child Responsibilities: A Simple Guide for Parents

Little girl with a Golden retriever puppy

Is your child constantly begging you for a puppy? There are many great reasons to welcome a dog into your home! Owning a dog can boost a child’s self-esteem and teach them empathy. It’s also a great lesson in responsibility!

Bringing a puppy into your home can be one of the best decisions you’ve ever made – but only if you’re prepared. As a parent, you must be willing to take the time to teach your child how to properly interact with the family dog. It’s also important to add responsibilities in a safe and age-appropriate way.

If you’ve been thinking about saying “yes” to a new puppy, you’re in the right place. By the time you’re done with this simple guide, you’ll understand how a puppy can enhance your child’s life, the best ways to use your puppy as an opportunity to teach your child responsibility, and what to do when things don’t go as planned.

8 Ways a Puppy Will Enhance Your Child’s Life

It’s no secret that having a puppy is a lot of hard work. Yes, your child really wants one, but is it worth the effort? Take a look at some of the many ways a family dog enhances a child’s life, then you can decide for yourself.

  1. They combat loneliness – this is especially important for children who don’t have siblings to keep them company.
  2. They offer protection – dogs are usually even more protective in homes with children. You’re less likely to have a robbery or break-in when you have a dog that will warn you about intruders.
  3. They keep kids active – dogs need daily walks and plenty of playtime. This is a great incentive for your kids to get off their devices and out into the backyard.
  4. They build confidence – a playful dog is great at bringing a shy child out of his or her shell.
  5. They teach selflessness – caring for a dog quickly teaches a child that it’s not always “all about them.”
  6. Having a dog strengthens the immune system – studies show that kids with dogs tend to get sick less often!
  7. Dogs help with speech development – children with speech delays often work hard to learn basic phrases and commands so they can communicate with their furry friends.
  8. Dogs teach unconditional love – a child who has a dog to care for and rely on quickly learns the value of unconditional love.

Using a Puppy to Teach Responsibility

Most parents who aren’t sure about bringing a dog into the home are concerned about all the responsibilities that come with it. We get it! You’ve got plenty to do without worrying about feeding, walking, house-training, and cleaning up after a new puppy. However, you can teach your child to take on some of these responsibilities, which leads to a win-win situation!

Children can start learning how to care for a puppy as early as age 3. Between the ages of 3 and 6, you can teach your child how to properly play with a puppy, brush it, and feed and water it. Of course, this will need to happen under your supervision.

Beginning around the age of 7, kids can take on these responsibilities on their own. In addition, you can teach them things like the importance of washing out food and water bowls, scooping poop, and basic training.

Choosing Your Puppy

One of the most important decisions you’ll need to make as a family is what type of puppy you’ll get. Some children will have their heart set on a certain breed, but, as a parent, it’s your responsibility to make sure the breed you choose is appropriate for your lifestyle. It’s important to consider things like a dog’s size, energy level, and personality traits. If you live in an apartment or a small home, take the time to learn about the best dog breeds for apartment living.

You may want to narrow your choices down to three that would work for your home, then let your child choose which is most appealing to them. If your child is a bit older, you may decide to let them do some basic research and bring you a list of breeds they think would be a good match. Just remember that the breed of dog you choose will have a major impact on how well it fits into your home. This is a decision you’ll have to live with for the next 8 to 15 years, so take the time to make a good choice!

It’s also important to note that just because personality traits are common within a certain dog breed, there’s no guarantee that the puppy you choose will behave the same way. Taking the time to complete a puppy aptitude test is the best way to predict how a puppy will behave as it’s growing up and once it matures.

Preparing to Bring a Puppy Home

As soon as you’ve decided to welcome a puppy into your home, it’s a good idea to start preparing everyone in the family. For example, now is a great time to get your children in the habit of picking up their belongings. Make sure they understand that not only might the puppy ruin their favorite things but getting ahold of certain toys can create a danger for curious puppies.

You’ll also want your children to get into the habit of closing doors behind them, so the puppy doesn’t escape. If you’re going to use baby gates to keep the puppy out of certain areas of your home, teach your children how to use them and make sure they get in the habit of keeping them closed.

Take your children to the pet store with you so they can help pick out the puppy’s toys, bed, dishes, collar, and leash. Consider buying a puppy training book or downloading some YouTube videos so you and your children can watch them together.

Also, make sure the entire family is on the same page about who will be responsible for things like feeding the puppy, cleaning up after it, and taking it for walks. Consider making a list of everything that needs to be done, dividing it up, and hanging the final list on the refrigerator. You may want to use a dry-erase board to create a checklist. This will help with accountability and also ensure that the puppy gets all of the care it needs.

Feeding and Walking

It’s great to get kids involved in feeding the puppy, as this will help them bond. If your child is small and the puppy is excitable, consider putting it behind a baby gate while your child scoops out the food. This will help prevent dangers from jumping or nipping.

Make sure your child understands how often the dog needs to be fed, and how much. Explain the dangers of over-feeding or feeding anything besides dog food and dog treats. Always supervise your child while they’re feeding the dog, at least until they’re old enough to handle it on their own.

Depending on the dog’s size, kids as young as five can help with walking — as long as they’re assisted by a parent. This is a great habit to develop from a young age.

Responsible Play

It’s important to supervise children while playing with puppies – for the safety of everyone involved. Children must learn to play gently and to set boundaries in positive ways. Puppies must learn not to scratch, jump, or nip. Make sure you have plenty of toys available to keep things fun for both your child and the puppy.

It’s also common for puppies to growl at a child. When this happens, they’re often trying to communicate that something is making them uncomfortable. Beware of punishing a puppy for this. The growl is a warning. If a puppy is deterred from this, next time it might not growl and just bite instead.

When your puppy growls, take a look at what’s happening and discuss it with your child. Try to make it a learning experience. This is an opportunity to teach a child about reading a dog’s body language and watching for certain signals (like becoming stiff, licking its lips, etc.). Talk to your child about the behavior that led up to the growling and how you can keep it from happening again.

Just like people, puppies sometimes get tired and cranky. Make sure your child understands the importance of giving the puppy some space when he needs it. Establish a rule that the puppy is not to be disturbed when he’s in his crate or bed.

Basic Training

Teaching your child how to give a puppy basic commands is extremely empowering. It will help create a bond between your child and your dog. It will also give your child a sense of accountability for the dog’s behavior.

It’s easy for even young children to teach commands like “sit’ and “stay” or “come.” There are many resources available to teach both adults and children about basic dog training. If you decide to take your dog to an in-person puppy training class, make sure you can bring your children with you. If not, make it a point to come home and show your child what you’ve learned right away.

What to Do When Things Don’t Go as Planned

While having a dog is an excellent way to teach a child responsibility, you have to be smart about it. It’s completely unrealistic to expect a child of any age to take on sole responsibility for taking care of a dog. Any parent who adopts a dog “for the kids” must be willing to take over responsibility as the dog’s primary caregiver in case things don’t work out.

When you buy a dog, you’re making a commitment for the animal’s entire lifetime. It’s not fair to give up a dog to a shelter or give it away just because the kids don’t do as much as you think they will.

That being said, there are some things you can do if your child isn’t holding up their end of the bargain.

Use Encouragement to Reinforce Responsibility

When you first bring a puppy into your home, your child will need as much positive reinforcement as the puppy does! Make sure to praise your child every time they take care of their puppy responsibilities without being reminded. This works best if you do it immediately after the task has been done.

As time goes by and your child gets used to the responsibility, you can ease off the constant praise. However, you’ll still want to frequently congratulate them for being such a loving and responsible pet owner.

Keep Up with Gentle Reminders

When the commitment to responsibility starts to lapse (and it almost always does), gentle reminders are usually the best approach. Even if you’re feeling super frustrated about it, try not to be too hard on your kids or make them feel overly guilty. Between school, extracurricular activities, friends, and more, most kids today really do have their plates full.

Being too hard on a child about not keeping up with pet responsibilities can lead to anger or resentment towards the dog. This isn’t good for either the child or the puppy!

Offer Positive Solutions

If your child is constantly missing feedings or other important tasks, it’s a good idea to start by considering whether you’ve given them too much responsibility. It’s best to begin by giving a child one or two tasks and making sure they can handle them before adding any more.

If you’re confident this isn’t the case, sit down with your child and discuss the problem. Work together to come up with positive solutions. Sometimes, making reminder signs for their bedroom or changing their schedule a bit is all it takes to get them back on the right track.

Lead by Example

Often, the best way to show a child how to be a responsible pet owner is to lead by example. Even if you’re having a busy day, make sure you still take your puppy for a walk or give him his daily brushing. Bring this to your child’s attention in a positive way.

Always approach puppy ownership with patience, persistence, and positive reinforcement. Prepare yourself and your child to put in some hard work and the entire family will enjoy many years of incredible benefits.

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8 Puppy Breeds That Are Perfect for Apartment Living

Maltese dog sitting on a bed in an apartment

Have you been dreaming of owning a puppy? Adding a furry friend to your home will change your life in amazing ways! If you live in an apartment, you might have thought that owning a dog was out of reach. However, many apartments are now pet friendly and there are plenty of great dog breeds that are perfectly happy with apartment living. Here are a few of your best options.

French Bulldog

The French Bulldog is a perfect breed for those who love big dogs but don’t have a lot of space. They only grow to about 20 pounds (on average). This means that they don’t take up much room and also don’t make a lot of noise when they’re running around. This low-energy breed doesn’t need a ton of exercise either. One short walk a day is plenty.

They’re also well-mannered and aren’t very vocal. Their generally friendly demeanor means they’ll do just fine meeting people and other pets when they’re out and about. They do tend to shed quite a bit, but only twice a year. If you brush them once a day, preferably outdoors, you won’t have to worry about too much cleaning. However, if the thought of frequent sweeping bothers you, then this might not be the right breed for you.

Maltese

Often best described as an adorable little fluff-ball, the Maltese typically only grows to about 7 pounds. Although they have a long coat, they shed infrequently. They’re not super high energy and are usually happy with one walk a day. They are often quite active indoors and enjoy a robust play session whenever they get a chance.

These dogs will get along well with other apartment-friendly animals, like ferrets or cats. This breed tends to be an excellent watchdog, so they’re likely to bark at unfamiliar sounds. If you live in a noisy apartment building with a lot of foot traffic, this could become an issue.

Boston Terrier

A small dog with a friendly disposition, the Boston Terrier is another great companion for apartment-dwellers. They typically grow to about 15 to 20 pounds. They’re highly intelligent, which means that they’re usually very easy to train. They are very active but are perfectly happy running around indoors. One short walk a day is the only other exercise they need.

Boston Terriers also have short hair and don’t tend to shed much, so you won’t have to do a ton of extra vacuuming. They tend not to do well in extreme temperatures. If you live in an area with where it gets very hot or very cold, you may want to explore other dog breeds.

Shih Tzu

If you want an affectionate dog that loves to cuddle, the Shih Tzu may be the perfect breed for you. These adorable dogs grow to about 9 to 16 pounds, which is a perfect size for an apartment. Although they’re generally easygoing, a Shih Tzu will bark at the first sign of a stranger. This makes them great watchdogs. However, your neighbors may not be pleased.

The Shih Tzu needs daily grooming, but their coats are relatively easy to care for. They do tend to get annoyed by a lot of activity, so they’re best for homes without children.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Another great lapdog, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is excellent with children and easy to train. They love human affection and will follow their owners around from room to room. They do enjoy a moderate amount of exercise, but a few short walks each day is usually sufficient. This is a quiet breed that rarely barks, making it ideal for apartment living.

The dog’s beautiful coat requires regular grooming as well as daily brushing. If you’re gone a lot and don’t have a dog sitter, this breed isn’t the best choice. Since they’re so affectionate, they also hate to be alone for long periods of time.

English Bulldog

Despite its thick build, the English Bulldog is actually a great dog for apartment dwellers. They have moderate exercise needs, so you’ll want to take them for a 10 to 15-minute walk every day. They’re one of the larger breeds on this list, weighing in at about 40 to 50 pounds. However, they don’t require a ton of space as they prefer to lounge on the couch most of the time.

Bulldogs are also relatively quiet, so barking shouldn’t be an issue. They have short hair and don’t shed much. They’re loyal and affectionate and are also calm around strangers. It’s important to remember that these are strictly indoor dogs and you must take care when bringing them out for walks. Both cold and hot weather can cause major problems or bulldogs. They can collapse from heat exhaustion and temperatures as low as 70 degrees can lead to issues. If you live in a very hot climate, a bulldog may not be your best choice.

Greyhound

It may surprise you to learn that Greyhounds make great apartment dogs! While they’re known for racing, they actually don’t need a ton of exercise. In fact, they’re generally very calm. These sensitive and loving dogs make excellent family pets. They usually don’t bark. However, they may bark obsessively if they don’t get enough exercise and mental stimulation or if they’re left alone for long periods of time.

These low-maintenance dogs are very easy to care for, making them great for first-time dog owners. They do have a strong prey drive and will chase cats and other small animals. If you already own a cat, a Greyhound probably isn’t a great choice for you.

Chinese Crested

An extremely unique looking dog, the Chinese Crested is perfect for apartment living. In fact, if you train them to use a litter box or potty pad, they can happily live their entire lives without ever going outside. They make good lapdogs and enjoy lounging on the couch for hours as long as their favorite people are nearby.

This is a generally healthy breed with few medical issues and a lifespan of as long as 15 to 17 years. A Chinese Crested may bark a lot. When left alone for too long, they can become destructive and the barking may become obsessive. If you’re gone a large part of the day and don’t have a dog sitter, this isn’t the right breed for you.

Find the Puppy That’s Best for You

Now that you know a bit about some of the best puppies for apartment living, you may be ready to purchase your new puppy. It’s important to remember, though, that the breed traits discussed are typical, but not always guaranteed.

Performing a puppy aptitude test is a great way to get a better idea of the type of dog a puppy will grow up to be. Our simple, 12-step test will help you choose your new furry friend with confidence!