Dear Tango,

I may just be a puppy but I’m pretty sure my people have lost their minds.
My Mom came at me the other day with some cutting contraption, muttering something about a pedicure.  Next thing I know, she is grabbing my feet like a vice grip; she seemed all nervous and shakey and I was sure she was going to sever my toes!  So, I herked and jerked and kicked and pulled but did she stop?  No!  She brought in reinforcements and then I had two of them pinning me and squishing me and telling me NO! And to stop!  Me stop??  You stop!  I don’t think they knew what they were doing because out came a different device.  Oh ya, much better, it looked like a frickin’ toe guillotine!   I watched Braveheart while they were at work so I know all about those things.  What the?  I thought they loved me!  But I started screaming like I was stuck in a leg hold trap, ‘til they were so frazzled, they gave up. 
Then they were all nicey nice again but I saw where they put the toe hatchets, so if I ever see them near that drawer again, I’m outa here!
How can I be sure they won’t sneak up on me when I’m asleep though?  Please help!

Signed,  Toenail Terrorized


Dear Toenail Tormented,

You’re not the first to fight the toenail battle.  Many a dog has met the perceived instruments of death, in the shaking hands of their people!  Believe it or not, they were trying to help you; all dogs need pedi's to keep our nails short and pain free.  The way your peeps went about it though, was a newbie dog owner mistake. In fact, they could write the “how not to do a dog’s toenails” handbook. 
The blind leading the blind is no place to start!
First they need to gently teach you that having your feet touched and held is a good thing.  For me that means food, food and more food, but some dogs will settle for a neck message or body massage as the result of foot handling.  They should do this in repeated short sessions, over a few days. Then, once you are comfortable with that, they can show you the device, let you sniff it, and teach you that it means food and happiness also!  Then they can teach you that touching your toenails with the now happy device, is better still!  How long each step will take, will depend on the dog and human in question. It's not a process to rush; it could take a few days or a few weeks. 

There’s another pedicure tool that lots of dogs and people like; it is a sort of power sander or grinder.   It’s no more comforting looking than the cutters, and it makes a weird noise and it smells funny but it leaves nice smooth nails with no sharps to dig in to our feet, so once they teach us it’s nice, it’s nice!

Your people, hopefully will have talked to your vet or groomer, to learn where the quicks in your nails are, and how much nail they can trim without hurting you.

Then they need to learn how to trim nails on a dog that is comfortable having pedicures, and you need to learn about pedicures from someone who knows how to do them, so that nobody’s nerves or shakes upend the learning curve.

Once you both have a comfort level with your roles in the pedicure process, you’ll be off to the races.  No more toenail terror for you! 

Don’t read this part, you’re not ready, but your people should know to keep septic powder handy, in case they do nick a quick by accident.

I still can’t guarantee they won’t sneak up on you in your sleep; tricky dog parents do that all the time, to get in pedicure position before we have a chance to make them get cookies first!

Some people never get comfortable trimming nails and take their dogs to the groomer or vet for pedicures instead; I don't like either of those places much but, if forced to choose, I (and I think most) would prefer them to the shakey hand of a nervous person, holding sharp things, at home.

Whether it is your practised people or the pros, take the food and point your toes because the alternative is long, painful toenails and no dog wants those!

I hope this helps, my spa-bound friend.

Love, Tango

Topic: Ask Tango

Posted 18 April 2014, 7:22PM

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