Recent Nail Trim Rehab Graduate
This cute, little guy is Charlie. I met Charlie when he was only six months old. Charlie had a negative experience with a nail trim at a very young age. His owners kept trying and ultimately gave up cutting his nails, even though they readily cut their previous dog’s nails. Charlie was much too reactive and didn’t hesitate to bite at hands and the clippers as a person reached for his foot. Yes, Charlie is a terrier and some may think that he just needed a stronger, heavier hand to teach him how to behave. And yet, that’s how Charlie became so explosive. What Charlie, and most dogs, really needed was a well protected hand, time, and kindness so that he could learn to trust and calmly get his nails trimmed.
The transition began ten months ago. With leather “bite gloves” on each hand, I began my nail trimming adventures with Charlie. Just as his owners reported, as soon as he felt a hand on a foot, Charlie would writhe, twist and bite at the hand. The first visit it took a good twenty minutes to only get four nails cut. A good deal of the time was spent lightly holding a foot and being bit by a frightened and angry dog. Much to Charlie’s surprise, biting the hand holding his foot wasn’t having the same affect that it had at home. Ultimately, that day I think I just outlasted Charlie’s attempts to stop the process. Most importantly, during the entire time Charlie and his objections were honored and respected. He was welcome to bite at the gloves as much as he felt the need to do so. He was given breaks and petted between foot holding sessions. He was not physically manhandled or forced into any particular position. Starting that day it was requested that Charlie go no where else for nail trimming and that his owner's did not continue to trim his nails either.
Each time Charlie came for grooming, I worked on one foot and maybe two if it was a good Charlie day. During Charlie’s most recent visit, all of his nails were cut with barely any objection and no attempts to bite. No bite gloves were needed and Charlie wore a muzzle for the front feet only. Soon enough Charlie will not even be muzzled for the front feet. It took almost a year of sporadic visits for Charlie to learn to trust that I was not going to hurt him. As nail trims become even more comfortable for Charlie, others will be able to cut his nails as well. Charlie is not the first nor will he be the last dog that will come for grooming or just nail trim rehabilitation because someone previously mistreated them in order to just cut their nails. Nail trimming should not hurt, result in bleeding, nor require multiple people to “lay on the dog,” or be traumatic in any way. One bad experience can result in a life time of nail trimming trauma.