How to teach your dog to do their own nails.

If your pup hates getting their “nails done” you’ll want to teach your pup to enthusiastically do their own.

Does your pup HATE to get their nails done? Even if they seem “willing,” remember that heavy panting is a sign of stress.

While you will still want to learn how to properly desensitize your pup to the nail grinder (dremel), nail file, and/or nail clippers, a DIY nail scratcher can actually do a lot of the work for you.

While this nail scratcher won’t get the back paws or dew claws, the front nails are the ones that get the longest.

Also, taking care of most of the nails, and just having to do two dewclaws is going to take off a lot of the stress for your pup.

Regardless, this is why you’ll still want to desensitize your pup to nail tools when you do have to use them for the other nails.

Okay…so without further ado, here are the step-by-step instructions on using the nail scratcher!

Step 1: Make the nail scratcher!

All you’re going to do is buy a cutting board, sandpaper, and some tape. Put the sandpaper on the cutting board and tape it on. Easy peasy!

Step 2: Click and Reward your pup for interacting with the cutting board

This is called shaping. Whether your pup looks at the cutting board, lifts a paw, or does ANYTHING, you’re going to click & reward. We’re going to slowly (but surely) get our pups to be really excited about the cutting board.

Even better — if your pup already knows the “shake hands” or “paw” cue, you’re going to prompt your pup to do that NEAR the cutting board.

If your pup's nails end up hitting the actual cutting board, you’re going to give them a JACKPOT — extra treats and praise.

Step 3: Add in the cue ‘scratches’

Once your pup is regularly scratching at the board, you’re going to add in the cue ‘scratches.’

It’s super important we wait to add in the verbal cue until your pup is regularly performing the scratching behavior.

Why is that? Because your pup is still in the ‘acquisition’ stage of learning — meaning they’re too focused on figuring out what to do, they’re going to block out the verbal cue anyway. The danger of this is that the word can become ‘background’ noise, making it harder for your pup to learn the verbal cue.

Step 4: Reinforce HARDER scratches

When your pup adds more pressure to the scratcher, reinforce with extra praise and treats.

Watch the video tutorial below.

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Lisa Ullery Gallegos

I’m a Certified Professional Dog Trainer with free training videos on my YouTube channel, “Lisa Gallegos Dog Training”