For me, positioning is of key importance. I have to be able to see the nail and the quick of the nail clearly. The quick of the nail is
more easily seen on light to white coloured nails than it to see on dark to black nails. By choosing what I refer to as the “horse shoeing stance” I am able to see clearly regardless of the nail colour. Also, in this position I have gentle yet good control of the dog’s leg and foot. If the dog is old it has the option of leaning on me for support. If a dog is anxious and squirming I am able to use the pressure of my arm around him to control his movements. This is also a natural lifting position for the dog to feel as opposed to pulling the leg forward. If a dog resists having its paw held at the start I pause briefly without releasing the paw and give the lower leg and paw a gentle jiggle up and down to show it how nice and loose it can be.
Notice the position of my fingers under the nail. By lining up the nail clippers against the tip of my finger there is less danger of accidentally clipping shorter than I intend. As for where to clip that is determined by where the quick is.
On some dogs it is plainly obvious…quick…empty gap to the tip. (Photo A)
On light nails sometimes a look at the side of the shows the position of the quick. (Photo B)
On other dogs whose nails are dark and look short already: I peel thin layers of nail off looking for the dark oval to appear which indicates that the quick is next.
On dogs whose nails are very long and dark: I start to clip just at the curl point and peel down thin layers again looking for the dark oval to appear. On this type the quick tends to be quite long and getting the nails down to a correct length is sometimes not possible. I just get them as short as I can without a bleed. (Photo C and D)
I watch out for the way the nails are worn…sometimes those inner or outer nails are worn down way more than the middle ones. Just because I take ¼ inch off one does not mean the others are the same.
I choose to trim nails after the bathing and drying is complete. By doing this I have established a relationship with the dog. I have
deliberately lifted and put down each of his feet numerous times. It is important to place the paw down rather than dropping it or letting the dog pull it away. He knows the feel of my hands on him, he knows that all I want him to do is shift his weight and allow me to hold his foot up and put it down again.
I always keep a calm positive assertive attitude while trimming nails regardless of any struggles or bleeding “quicked” nails.
Sometimes a nail is cut into the quick and bleeds but not very often and I always keep my mind on the task. I calmly think oh that might bleed and keep on going. This is no time to get upset and ‘oh my god’ it because the dog will
pick up on that upset vibe and get anxious. Calm, calm, calm. I always use a “Kwik Stop” powder to stop the bleed after the other nails are done. If I stop to put the powder on the bleeding nail and try to continue it is sometimes more difficult. This I think is because the “kwik stop” powder stings a bit.