Canine Tip of the Day: Filing Nails – get the dog to do it!

Canine Tip of the Day: Filing Nails – get the dog to do it!

We mentioned yesterday about clipping claws.  I posted a super little article all about how to do it, why we need to, which tools to use etc etc.  That said, there are lots of dogs who are not at all keen on having their feet/nails touched (mine included) and so for some its easier to teach them to file their own nails.  We get to this by shaping the behaviour so that the dog will drag his own nails down some sandpaper glued to a board to file them.

Teaching this technique is a brilliant way around the problem, and just needs a little time working with the dog in a positive reinforcement style.

Shaping can be used in all sorts of ways and is simply a great way of teaching a skill by harnessing a natural behaviour that the dog offers you.  A quick search of YouTube throws up lots of neat tricks like this one and provided its done in a force-free manner, with lots of treats and praise, you’ll be amazed what you can achieve.

Here are a couple of clips to show you what I mean – the first clip introduces the dog to the technique and the second progresses as the dog understands more and more what is required:-


  1. Reply

    Great idea! What grain of sand paper did you use? My little one has his nails so grown out the blood vessels have extended … so when we try to trim he bleeds

    • Reply

      Reply above Darcie 😉

  2. Reply

    Thanks for the great idea! Do you recommend stair tread or sandpaper? And which grit do you recommend for a small dog?

    • Reply

      Hi Darcie,

      I use an 80 grit sandpaper for my guys which seems to do the job brilliantly. I would say watch the progress so you can do more or less repetitions as required. Another good technique is to use half a drain pipe with sandpaper inside so that they do a good job of the side nails too 😉

      Best wishes


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