Nail trimming is an essential part of your dog health care plan. Long nails can cause misalignment and pain for your Golden Retriever. You can learn more about the importance of and how to trim your dog's nails here: Dog Nails, the Importance and how to Cut.
This post is more about how to really get your dog to enjoy having his nails trimmed. The last thing you want to do is dreed trimming your dog's nails. This is the unfortunate reality for a lot of dog owners. Some people choose to have professional groomers trim their dog's nails. Others have dogs that hate getting their nails trimmed so much that they have to get their nails trimmed by a vet and be under anesthesia!
This is not what we want. It's best to start getting your Golden used to nail trimming at a young age. But you can implement this training protocol at any age. An older dog who already has an aversion to nail trimming might take longer to accept nail trimming than a puppy will, so bear that in mind.
Nail Clippers are Not Scary
We start the training with the nail clippers or whatever you choose to use to trim your dog's nails. Simply grab some treats and your nail clippers. Place the nail clippers on the floor and give you dog treats for showing interest in the clippers. Make sure your puppy doesn't chew on them!
A puppy will no doubt be enthusiastic once they realize a treat is coming their way if the sniff the clippers. An adult dog who doesn't like getting his nails trimmed may be a bit wary of even seeing the clippers. It may take a minute for these dogs to get close to the clippers. When they do toss a treat over!
This process will help to get the dog to associate the nail clippers with good and happy times.
Slowly you will start to touch the nail clippers and give your dog treats when they show interest in the clippers while you touch them. You will move from touching the clippers to holding them. This might be a hard step for adult dogs who don't like nail clipping time. Seeing the clippers on the floor is one thing, but in your hand ready for action is another. Be sure to give lots of treats to these dogs when they do approach you with the clippers in your hand.
Next, you will move the clippers close to your dog's foot and treat when you get close. Continue to work like this slowly getting to a point where you can rub the clippers on the dog's nails, without actually clipping. Again this may take some time with an adult dog who hates nail trimming. It will be best to move very slowly and use super high-value treats. It may be best to do this several times a day for several days.
Clipping the Nails
Now, this is where things start to get interesting. Continue as above, only this time make one tiny trim on one nail. Be sure it is a tiny trim that will not get anywhere near the quick. Give big praise and a treat! Game over. Stop after just one trim on just one nail.
The next day, try again trimming a different nail. Again, just one tiny trim and then you're done. Repeat in this manner until you have trimmed each nail once. Now you can try trimming two nails. Always give big praise and treats!
Continue working up, one nail at a time until you can trim all the nails at one sitting. Be sure to give a treat after each nail is trimmed. Eventually, you can work to give your pup a treat after every two nails are trimmed, then after each paw, then at the end of the nail trimming session only.
As with all training work at your dog's pace. If he is still reluctant to approach the clippers on the floor, then don't move on to touching the clippers yet. You want your dog to be enthusiastic and excited about each step before progressing to the next.
It is important to do your best to never cut your dog's nails to the quick. If nail trimming is never painful the dog has no reason to hate the nail trimming process. I find that it is helpful to trim my dog's nails weekly. This keeps the nails short and healthy and keeps my dog in the habit of loving nail trimming time.