Tips for Grooming Dogs' Feet

When grooming dogs, don't neglect the feet. Nails or hair that grow too long on the feet can cause discomfort or drag in extra dirt and stickers, which can also hurt your dog.

Acclimating to Grooming

Grooming your dog will go much more smoothly if you acclimate your dog to handling his feet. To do this, hold your dog's foot for only a few seconds and reward with a treat. Don't let go if your dog is struggling. Only release when he calms down.

Keep these sessions short and build up to handling each foot for up to a minute by practicing each day for only a minute or so. Always end the sessions on a positive note.

Once you can handle feet, start holding each individual toe. Once you can do that for a few seconds each, introduce scissors, razor and nail trimmers by holding them near the feet and making noises. Build up to using those tools on the feet.

When you are first starting, don't expect to do all four feet in the first session. You don't want your dog to be stressed, so move as slowly as he needs. If your dog learns to tolerate you handling his feet, grooming sessions will be quick and easy, reinforcing that grooming is not so bad.

Trimming Dog Hair

It can be difficult to trim your dog's nails if the hair is too long covering the toes. This can also be a magnet for stickers, dirt and other things your dogs can pick up in the yard.

  1. First, brush the hair around your dog's feet. Look for mats and objects and first try to comb them out with a grooming comb before cutting or pulling them out. Hold onto the dog's hair at the base to reduce the pain as you comb out the object.
  2. Once the hair is brushed thoroughly, trim the nails around the toes and feet for a clean look.
  3. Then look at your dog's foot pad. If there is any hair sticking out between the foot pads, trim that or use a dog razor. Be very sensitive when doing this not to clip the foot pad. Remove the hair to below the start of the foot pad.

Trimming the Dog Nails

Firmly grab the nail on each side with your index finger and thumb. Use high-quality, sharpened trimmers to cut only the tip of the nail where it begins to curve. You don't want to trim too much of the nail because you risk cutting the quick. If you feel that your dog's nails are getting too long, cut more frequently. Don't cut more at each time.

Keep a bowl of flour or cornstarch on hand to dip the nail in if you cut the quick. This will stop the bleeding. Leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes before removing with warm water.

To remove sharp edges after trimming, use a file or Dremmel to smooth edges.

The feet are your dog's most important area and must be groomed regularly. With a little practice, you will find that your dog can be calm for the whole routine—as long as you are efficient.