My dog Cooper never used to have a problem getting his nails clipped. We made sure when he was just a little baby puppy to always handle his feet when we were snuggling with him and he loved it. We probably clipped his nails once a week, or maybe once every two weeks, just because he was so comfortable with it. This was when Cooper was an indoor dog. We didn’t have a yard in our first place, and there were very strict rules about keeping pets leashed in our apartment complex. It didn’t help that my honey baby Cooper can sometime look terrifying when he’s happy. (It’s the American Bulldog in him – when he smiles he shows ALL of his teeth.)
When we moved, we chose a place with a huge fenced yard, and Cooper was finally able to trot out the door and into his own personal field. Cooper’s life was totally changed. No more being tethered to Mom and Dad while pooping (a win for everybody)! His nails are much tougher now that he is outdoors more often, especially because he used to be a digger (more on how we broke that habit in a later post). Come to think about it, he also smells a little different…
But cutting his nails has turned into a much bigger production than it should be; I blame myself entirely. I’ve said before that Coop has a hard time getting out of bed, this is especially true when trying to get him off the couch at then end of the evening.
Sometimes when he would be comatose like this, we would take the opportunity to clip his nails. One night, though, he woke up while I was cutting and slinked (slunk?) off the couch into bed. The next night, he again was glued to the couch and I had the brilliant idea to get the nail clippers out, since they made him get up last time. This became our ritual. Coop would fall asleep, refuse to move, and then slide off of the couch or his bed once I came at him with the clippers. The logic is flawless! Unless I ever wanted to clip my dog’s toenails again. Coop began to squirm every time he saw the clippers in my hand, and as a result we hadn’t cut his nails in over a month.
Last night, though, I finally had enough. The pup had accidentally scratched me for the last time, and I was going to clip those toenails come hell or high water. Confession: I was a terrible puppy mom and did everything wrong. Instead of gradually introducing the clippers back into Cooper’s mindset as good things (things associated with treats and snuggles) I lured him onto Michal and my bed and then full body wrestled him until I was lying flat on top of my pup. I was able to clip six out of his 18 nails (he still has his dew claws up front, but only four toenails on each foot in the back).
It was stressful for both the Coop and for me, and left both of us out of breath from our wrestling match. I’m ashamed to admit that I let my determination to cut his nails (which stemmed from his innocent pawing of my hand that left a big ol’ scratch) get in the way of my duty to him as a puppy mom, which is to be the calm and assertive leader. No more wrestling for doggie pedicures though, Michael and I have resolved to use a new, better method from now on that will be far mor enjoyable for our dog Cooper.
Hopefully our new method will result in a calm and happy pup with great toenails, because really what more could a little family like ours ask for 🙂