Do you have a Great Dane Puppy?

They are seriously so special. Great Dane puppies change every single day. They grow so quickly and their giant feet make them extra sweet and clumsy. 

Our quick post today is all about those cute little tiny puppy toenails! 

It is SO important to start nail trims early and do them often. 

PRO TIP: Your dog’s nails should never, ever grow so long that they touch the ground. This can cause swelling, irritation, pain, and worse: joint damage. 

 

SUPPLIES FOR TRIMMING GREAT DANE PUPPY NAILS

Miller’s Forge Clippers (Red Handle). These inexpensive clippers (see on Amazon) last forever, are easy to use and stay crazy sharp.

Dremel Tool. There are several models, including knock off versions at Walmart and even a pet-specific name brand version. You need the Dremel tool and a sander drum OR a Diamagroove.

High Value Treats. Lots of tiny bites of something really good. Kibble isn’t going to cut it. Think Ziwi Peak, Zukes, diced chicken and freeze-dried organ meats.

I like to trim nails every weekend. Some dogs barely need this much, other dogs need a little more.

For puppies, especially if they are under 4 months, nail trims should be a simple matter of routine. Plan to spend a few quick minutes each day introducing the concept and making it a positive experience.

Show your puppy the Dremel and toss treats on the ground. Do this often and at random. Turn it on and toss another few treats. Keep practicing this so that the Dremel ALWAYS predicts good things.

Make sure you give your puppy lots of praise, but don’t make a big fuss either.

Too much fussing and excitement can make your dog resistant to the process! They don’t always understand why you are so crazy and high energy all of a sudden and may find it alarming. Be calm, patient and confident.

If all you get is one nail trimmed, that’s progress!

Trim the nail as close to the quick as you possibly can but avoid cutting into it.

Make sure to round off the top, bottom and sides as well by taking tiny slivers off with the clippers or by introducing a quick buzz from the Dremel.

As above, stay calm and follow that with praise and a treat!

 

PRO TIP: If the nails are black or if you are scared of trimming, read the files in the Facebook group called ‘Nail Maintenance for Dogs‘ so that you can learn how to ‘read’ the nail. 

Well maintained nails help keep paws neat and destruction to your home, hardwood, and skin to a minimum.  

Overgrown nails actually change the shape of the paw. This can be extremely painful and frustrating to your dog, who doesn’t have much of a voice on this topic. Keep the nails trimmed so they never touch the ground.

HOW TO MAKE SURE YOUR GREAT DANE WILL BE RESISTANT TO NAIL TRIMS

Ok we joke. You do NOT want your Great Dane to hate nail trims, but here are some common mistakes people make that can actually make nail trims and other care behaviors extremely difficult: 

  • Teaching the puppy that human hands = bad things (examples: hitting, shoving, pinching, ‘alpha’ rolling, tapping on the nose). This kind of training breeds distrust and shyness of hands. 
  • Playing with the paws and annoying the puppy about it (old advice that can actually make things worse). 
  • Asking the puppy to recall/COME and then forcing the puppy into a nail trim (quick way to ruin BOTH recall and nail trims!).
  • Not properly socializing the puppy to a variety of sights, sounds and experiences and helping it build confidence. Calm, mature dogs are built in confidence. 
  • Believing that training is a war for power and respect, not a teacher-student relationship.

This paw is from a five month old puppy who is being conditioned to accept weekly maintenance with the Dremel.

There is no sharp point and the nails do not touch the ground when the puppy is standing or walking and moving.

Over time they will be made neater, but perfection at this stage is not the goal. Keeping the nails from developing long, sharp points, and teaching the puppy to expect and accept routine maintenance is. 

 

When you finish the nail trim, even if you only got one nail done, do something FUN! Play a game, offer a really good chew in the crate, do a quick 1 minute training session with the treats you have left.

Teach your puppy early that nail maintenance is FUN, not-negotiable, and doesn’t result in pain or fear.

If you are really nervous about trimming the dog yourself, find a groomer. Some will come to your house, or you may have a neighbor willing to do it that will love the extra cash. You will still need to keep sharp points off the ground, so develop a schedule of maintenance and make sure that routine trips to the veterinarian or groomer for nail trims are part of life.

We highly recommend the group Nail Maintenance for Dogs on Facebook for resources, tips, and learning. This group is especially amazing if you have a dog that is afraid of nail trims.

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