How to Hold Dog Nail Clippers: Tips and Tricks

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Grooming is an essential factor in your dog’s health and wellness, and nail clipping is a vital part of the grooming process. Clipping your dog’s nails can seem quite daunting, and can also be stressful for your dog. While dogs who are quite active and run around outside a lot wear down their nails naturally, other dogs need them trimmed regularly. Here is how to hold dog nail clippers properly.

Types Of Dog Nail Clippers

There are a couple of dog nail clipper variants out there, and picking out the right one can be pretty confusing.

Scissor clippers

Scissor dog nail clippers allow you to exert a mechanical force on your dog’s nails. These are available in two models, a smaller design meant for use on small dogs, and a larger design meant for use on medium to large dogs. Be sure to choose the scissor clipper that is appropriately sized for your dog.

Scissor clippers have the added benefit of being usable on not only dogs but birds and cats as well. Just know that their blades can become dull very quickly and will need to be sharpened regularly.


These are not as menacing as they sound. Guillotine clippers are spring-loaded and are able to fit over the end of your dog’s nails. They are the most widely used amongst vets and groomers alike, mostly because they are also suitable for use on cats.

Just like scissor clippers, guillotine clippers are available in a variety of sizes to suit different pets. Their main drawback is that you will probably have a hard time seeing how much nail is about to be trimmed once they are on your dog’s nail, which makes them less ideal for uncooperative dogs.

Grinding tool

Grinding tools come with a sandpaper or emery board that allows you to grind your dog’s nails effortlessly. The majority of these clippers can be attached to the tools you already own, while others are used as stand-alone products. It is not recommended that you use grinding tool clippers on uncooperative dogs, as they can cause some mild injuries if your dog resists.

How To Remove The Stress Of Nail Clipping

Some dogs can have a real aversion to having their nails trimmed and become stressed when they see or hear nail clippers. Here are a few ways you can help your dog learn to tolerate, and even enjoy, having their nails clipped.

Get your dog used to seeing nail clippers

As nail clippers are a mechanical tool, they can appear foreign and intimidating to dogs who are not accustomed to them, especially to dogs who have a traumatic past. Call your dog to you and allow them to see you picking the clippers up. Appear calm and happy when you pick the clippers up and give your dog praise or a treat when you do.

Do this several times daily for a few weeks. Your dog will soon form a positive association between seeing the clippers and receiving praise.

Teach your dog to allow paw handling

Once your dog is at ease around nail clippers, gently touch their shoulder and then make your way down to their paws. Focus on the toes, and squeeze each one gently, then apply pressure to the nails themselves. If they become scared and pull back, take a break and continue once they settle down again. Repeat this process multiple times a day.

Introduce your dog to the sound of nail clippers

You can do this by repeating step one while simultaneously opening and closing the nail clippers and praising your dog. Steadily close the gap between your dog and the nail clippers without actually touching them with the tool. Once your dog is comfortable with the sound of the clippers, you are ready to begin trimming the nails.

How to Hold Dog Nail Clippers

Holding The Nail Clippers

Most dog nail clippers are held in a similar way that you would hold regular nail clippers, though there are, of course, some key differences. Scissor clippers and guillotine clippers are held in very similar manners, with the hand placed on the handle in your dominant hand. They are both spring-loaded, meaning that you need to squeeze the handles together to close the clippers around the nails.

Grinding tools require a little more finesse to handle. Because they are an electronic tool, you will need to be extra careful when using them to trim your dog’s nails. You will want to use a tapping motion on your dog’s nails as opposed to holding the tool on them for any duration. The friction they create can heat up their nails and cause extreme discomfort.

Why Are Long Nails Bad?

Dogs with long nails can experience pain in their feet. When their nails come into contact with hard ground, such as tiled floors or sidewalks, the surfaces push the nail back into the nail bed, either putting pressure on the toe joints or twisting the toes to the side. This is very painful.

Every animal relies on feedback from the nerves in their feet to navigate the world and properly process gravity. Dogs’ brains have been programmed through evolution to associate nail contact with being on a hill, as millions of years ago, that was the only time their nails would come into contact with the ground.

This means that they will involuntarily shift their body to climb the imaginary hill their toes are making them feel.

Final Thoughts

Now that you’re familiar with the importance of keeping your dog’s nails trimmed and how to cut them successfully, your grooming session will be a breeze, and your dog will soon learn to look forward to each grooming session.

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