How to Use Dog Nail Clippers Without Scaring Your Dog

how to use dog nail clippers

Grooming your dog is not just about their hair, and nail clipping is as important as brushing their hair. However, dogs don’t really love us missing with their nails. A dog’s nail is more sensitive than their hair, and the chances of accidents when using a nail clippers for dog is higher than with clippers. Also, check A Guide into How to Cut Dogs Nails Without Hurting Them

This is why you need to learn how to use dog nail clippers in a safe way that makes your dog okay with tolerating it. 

There are different types of nail clippers out there, and we’ll try to cover all of them. These types of clippers work are different in usage ,but in the end, they are all used for either nail trimming or cutting your dog’s nail. 

But before we get into how you can use nail clips for dogs, you need to really get the importance of nail trimming and why it’s much more important than people think. For more, check The Best Dog Grooming Shears You Can Get in 2020 – Buyer’s Guide

Why Nail Clipping is Important

1.) Dog who live in urban areas

Most domestic dogs who live in urban areas need their nails trimmed regularly. Working dogs and dogs who exercise usually get their nails worn down naturally. While those living indoors do not have them worn out naturally as they walk on smoother surfaces with less friction that doesn’t naturally wear them out.

2.) Discomfort

Long nails in dogs can cause them discomfort. If they are too long, then your pup will be putting the pressure of their weight on their toes and toe joints.

They are basically standing on their toes instead of letting their pads take on all of their weight.

Long ones can split, too,  becoming torn, or curving back to their pads. Which is just so painful for dogs.

3.) Health problems

When you leave them untrimmed, even a single dog’s nail can cause serious health problems. To be more comfortable, many dogs will have a crouched posture where they will start to spread their toes apart to minimize discomfort.

Long term crouching can affect your dog’s muscles, tendons, and joints. It can lead to other problems such as arthritis and can hinder your dog’s ability to get the exercise they need.

How often to clip their nails? 

It will depend on how active your dog is and the type of surfaces that your dog exercises in it.

Another factor is whether your dog has dew claws or not. If your dog has dewclaws, then they do need regular clipping.

Generally speaking, they need clipping every month or so. Make sure you make checking their paws a regular weekly routine for your pups even if you are not going to do any nail trimming, just to make sure they are the right length. 

Types of dogs nail clippers

  • Scissor clippers: These clippers work like a scissor. Although, the blades are shorter than standard scissors.
  • Guillotine clippers: The guillotine clippers have a hole at the end that you put your pooch’s nails through. As you squeeze the handles, the blade cuts through them.
  • Nail files: Also known as a dog nail grinder, these are electronic and use a type of sandpaper or board to grind away at high speed. A dog nail grinder or file can also be used after other clippers for the finishing touches. 

You should also always have styptic powder in the house for your dog’s injuries or bleeding.

4 Steps on how to use dog nail clippers on your dog

1.) Use sharp clippers

Use clippers that are of high quality and are sharp. Sharp clippers make the cutting very fast and efficiently. It will also make your dog comfortable as it will cut from the first attempt.

2.) Keep your dog comfortable

While clipping, they may become scared or irritated. It is important to keep your pooch seated and laid back so they don’t get stressed or hurt.

To keep your dog comfortable, you have to keep them calm by soothing them and then pull their legs and hold their paws gently. 

If you are working alone, let your pooch sit in your lap or lay in front of you. If you are working with a large dog breed, you may need help from others to restrain your dog.

3.) Clip in small portions

Cut your dog’s nail in a 45 degree angle starting from the bottom of the nail. Next, cut in small pieces so you don’t hurt the quick.

Nail guards can help a lot. It helps you measure the nail so the quick can be avoided. Stop cutting the nail when a dark spot appears in the middle.

If however, you cut deeper through the quick, the nail will bleed. In this situation,you can either apply pressure to the tip of the nail to stop pressure or use styptic powder and put it on the nail.

If you have a dog with dark fur, it will be much harder to see the quick and avoid it. If that’s the case, make sure you are in a very well-lit area or even use nail clippers for dogs that has a light source. Some dog nail clippers have good led lights that are just strong enough to see through the dog nail which can be a great way to prevent the risk of cutting the quick. 

How to Use Dog Nail ClippersCredited: Adopt a pet

4.) Treat your dog

Give your dog a treat and praise for waiting patiently and doing a good job. Doing so makes the experience a positive one that your dog is happy to do again.

Tips on how to clip a puppy’s nails

  • Cut away the hairs around their toes.
  • Make sure you use sharp dog clippers for nails to be cut quickly and efficiently. 
  • Cut from the bottom edge of the nail
  • Check that you are not cutting the quick
  • Give your dog a treat
  • Make sure your puppy is comfortable

How to deal with a scared dog

If you have an anxious dog, you have to make them used to the clipping process as much as possible. Some of these ways are listed below.

  • Regularly massage and touch their paws. If your dog is used to you handling their paws and toes, the clipping process will be easier.
  • Introduce the nail clippers to your dog and while you do so give them treats and praise as positive reinforcement.
  • Get your dog used to the sound of the clippers and grinder by clipping near their nail but not actually on it.
  • Observe an expert such as a vet or a groomer and see how they handle nail clipping your dog’s nails. Watch them to know the steps.
  • Get assistance and help when you need to restrain your dog. Someone can hold your dog’s paw so it’s easy for you to control each dog nail while you clip them.

How to clip black dogs nails

To nail clip dog with a darker fur and darker paws, you need sharp dog nail clippers and to use them cautiously to avoid cutting more of the dog’s nails than needed – and remember to have styptic powder in hand for accidents. Then, you got to clip only small portions of the the dog’s nail. Always check for the quick, the black spot in the center, while clipping them.

Black ones are harder to find but you can find them if you look very closely. Personally, I prefer to use files over dog nail clippers as it’s easier to chip away at them using the file than to cut through them using dog nail clippers. I feel it’s just too easy to cut the quick in the dog’s nails when using any other tools really. 

Using a dog file

A File is a great alternative for nervous pups, it as it doesn’t nail clip for dogs but instead chips away until you reach the proper length, but it does require some patience. 

A dog file is used to smooth the nail surface after it is cut. Do not apply pressure to the nails but let the friction from the nail shorten the nail.

Do not let the dog file stay for more than 3 seconds on a specific spot as it will cause your dog a burning sensation by getting the nail too hot.


In conclusion, how to use dog nail clippers requires that you follow certain steps. To learn how to do these step, it is best to see the practice in a real situation.

You can watch a vet or a groomer clip your dog’s nails. Your dog should be relaxed and calm so you can clip their nails.

How to Cut Dog Nails Without Clippers? 

Your pooch’s nails can be clipped without using clippers because there are other methods to cut dogs nails. How to cut your dog nails without them is a question that many pet owners have regarding the issue.

There are some methods to follow that allow you to cut them in other ways. .

Problems with nail clippers

Usually, cutting your dog’s nails with nail clippers is suitable for those who have the confidence to cut them.

Those who are confident may cut the nails without harming the quick and causing it bleeding and hurt. While those who aren’t may end up hurting their dogs and causing damage to the quick.

There is also the risk of cracking and splintering the dog’s nails from the nail clippers’ pressure.

How to cut dog nails without clippers

Use a grinder

A grinder doesn’t have a cord and operates on battery. Each grinder has a cylinder body with a grinding head on the end that is used to shorten the nails.

Advantages of grinder

  • A grinder removes issues related to patience and time. All grinders are fast and take a short time to shorten them.
  • It also makes the dog sit for a shorter period of time in the session making them less likely to struggle.
  • Removes the chance of having the quick cut.
  • It is not a priority to have a good aim.
  • Nails do not crack as with clipping.

Disadvantages of grinder

  • It is a powered tool that is either powered with a battery or a power cord which makes it require regular charging and batteries.
  • The process of using a grinder comes with vibrations and sounds that your dog may find irritable and fearful.
  • Grinding can make the nails hot so you have to not hold the grinder at the nail for long periods of time ; hold it at the nail for a second or 3 seconds only.

Tips for using a nail grinder

  • Start cutting your pooch’s nails while they are young because they will get more used to it and will tolerate the process. It will become a habit that your dog understands and knows what is happening.
  • Make a habit of gently touching your dog’s paws as this will let them get used to you touching their paws and they will be less likely to become scared when you do so.
  • Introduce your dog to the grinder. Do not cut in this stage rather start the grinder and let your dog hear its sound.
  • Do not rush the process as you need to make your dog feel comfortable.
  • Learn the anatomy of the nail and how to cut it effectively so you understand your dog when they react. You will also understand the amount of clipping that is required.

How to use a dog’s nail grinder

Step one: Get your dog used to the sound of the grinder

Get a good dog nail grinder such as these recommended here, then run the tool next to your dog so they get used to the sound it makes. Give your dog treats while making them listen to the sound so they find a positive association for the experience.

Step two: Trim hair on the toes and paws

It can be dangerous using a grinder so the first step to do is to trim the hair surrounding the toes and paws.

This is done to create a better access and to not let the grinder get caught in your dog’s hair.

Step 3: Hold your dog’s paws

How to Cut Dog Nails Without Clippers

Let one hand hold your dog’s paw extended while the other holds the grinder. If your dog is struggling, then stop and then reposition them again.

Step 4: Apply the nail grinder

Always work with one nail at a time. Hold the grinder and apply it to the bottom of the nail tip and then bring it slowly around and to the top of the nail tip. When you reached the top of the nail tip, go back again to the starting point.

Step 5: Repeat the process 

Repeat using the grinder on the same nail until it has reached the desired length but make sure to not cut the quick.

Step 6: Polish the nail

When you reached the specific length, use the grinder in a circular motion around the tip to make it smooth.

Repeat then all the above steps for each nail.

What About files

A file can trim dog nails but in other procedures. It is a piece of metal that is used for smoothing and shaping the dog nails.

Advantages of using a file

  • It is an alternative on how to cut dog nails without clippers by using the file which gives greater control on the nails.
  • Less risk of hitting and injuring the quick.
  • Smoothes the nails into the shape that is needed.

Disadvantages of dog nail file

  • It is time-consuming and requires a lot of patience.
  • Your dog may get uncomfortable if they are nervous about the process.

Tips for using a nail file

  • Get your dog used to nail files and their sensation by calming them down, handling their paws, and lay the file beside them so they can sniff it and get introduced to it.
  • Restrain your dog effectively through getting one arm over their shoulder and another over their neck.
  • Be careful when filing the them as you have to not cut or harm the quick.

How to use a dog’s nail file

Step one: Get a nail file

You can get a nail file from veterinary or pet supply stores. Manually filling each nail takes a lot of time.

Step two: Trim hair between toes and paws

You got to trim the hair between your dog’s toes and paws so the nail file doesn’t get stuck between the hair.

Step three: Touch your dog’s paws

Have access to your dog’s paws by touching them and holding them. Gently separate your dog’s toes. 

Step four: File the nails

Manually file each nail but watch out to not let them become overheated from the friction. It takes more time but is an alternative if your dog doesn’t like clippers or grinding tools.

In a nutshell

In conclusion, how to cut dog nails without clippers relies on your dog’s ability and comfort level toward the clippers. If they are not comfortable with the nail clippers, they can use these tools as an alternative.

For more information regarding the usage of dog nail clippers, check How to Use Dog Nail Clippers: The Best Methods.  

Make sure to watch the great video below for some more tips:

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