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Old 06-29-2012, 06:44 AM
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Default Scared of dremel

Has anyone here gotten a dog who is afraid of the sound of a dremel, and afraid of having their nails clipped to where they can dremel their nails?

See when Tucker was a puppy I was clipping his nails with some random dog clippers I found around the house, I guess they were dull because he started yelping like it hurt even though I wasn't making him bleed. So I bought new clippers and after a few times he realized they didn't hurt and was fine again, but now he's slowly become afraid again. I was able to clip all of his nails at one time, I'd just have to work up to it with treats for handing me his paw, getting his toes spread, etc. but in the end all nails were clipped. But now I can't even clip one nail in a session. So either they are getting dull again or he just doesn't like having his nails clipped. Last time I worked up to clipping one nail and he yelped, didn't bleed. I feel bad, I can handle his paw, handle his toes, bring the clipper to his toes but the instant the clipper makes contact with his nail he yanks back then won't give me his paw for a while (I always have him give me his paw instead of me taking it, so instead he'll slap my hand really fast and pull it away before I get a hold of it). If I hold his paw and don't let him yank back he gasps and holds his breath (I didn't even know dogs gasped). I think he's really, really scared, which makes me think maybe those clippers are hurting him.

I bought a dremel a long time ago but he wouldn't even come near me while it was on. I figured that I was much closer to being able to clip with clippers, since I can do everything but touch the nail, so why bother trying to desensitize him to the dremel, that could take forever, the clippers would be faster. But now that the clippers seem to actually be hurting him, I'd like to give the dremel another go. But I don't want to spend weeks or months trying to get him comfortable with them only to fail in the end.

So that's why I wanted to know if anyone here had actually successfully taken a dog who was afraid of the dremel and gotten them comfortable with it to the point where they can dremel the nails.
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Old 06-29-2012, 09:42 AM
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I worked through issues my son's dog had with clippers or anything to do with her nails. She was so afraid that she became vicious and there was not a vet around who would clip her nails unless they put her under general anesthesia. She was ballistic at the sight of clippers coming near her. She had been traumatized in relation to her nails and clipping in her past and she was the worst case I had ever seen or several vets had ever seen.

She now is fine with clipping and even finer with the Dremel.

I took it slowly, but it really only took about a week for her to be okay with it and a little longer to be more comfortable yet. I used ice cream and took it very slowly, conditioning her to the tiniest increments toward the goal that I could make. If she wanted to get off the couch and go away, I didn't say a word....just waited and she'd come back because she loved ice cream. lol. (actually, at my son's place, this was all I could find for a treat when I was visiting there) I made it seem like a game and made a huge fuss when she let me do the slightest thing...like show her the clippers. She'd look at them and "wooooo hooo! Good girl!" Ice cream. lol.

So, if Tucker is afraid of the Dremel when it's on, don't turn it on. If he doesn't trust you because you're holding the Dremel, don't hold it. Just set it on the floor next to his food dish every meal for a while. Then try holding it but with it turned off and feed him high value treats and call it a day. Touch his paws with your hands, tap his nails with your fingernails, rub them, all the while you're dispensing HIGH value treats. Don't ever rush ahead to anything more until he's perfectly comfortable with the last thing. It can take a long time or it might not, depending on the dog. Like I said, it only took Toker about a week to go from ballistic, vicious, crazy scared to thinking it was a party when I brought out the clippers. (When we switched from clippers to the Dremel, she already trusted me about the clipping by this time, so the transition wasn't anything too dramatic)

So, after you do some of that, you can just leave it in different places in the living room or wherever and watch him. If he goes to investigate, reinforce. You can put little piles of chicken or cheese right next to it. Then when he's very calm and okay with that, try turning it on low speed and tossing him a treat. Don't push it any further. Don't try to connect it to his paws yet. Later, you can try to see if he'll come close or on your lap with it off, then try it with it on. If he wants to go away, let him. Don't force him to stay by you.

It sounds like a super lengthy process, but it may not wind up being so long, but again, it depends a little on the dog. I figure, if Toker could do it, Tucker can...eventually. She trusted people with everything else...never showed one iota of defensiveness in any other context....just with the nails. She had been abused quite severely as a puppy, but fairly quickly came around and is completely trusting and in love with everyone she meets. And finally even trusts enough to have things like clipping or Dremeling done to her, which had been associated with severe trauma in her past.
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Old 06-29-2012, 09:48 AM
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Great advice above!

I'm considering buying a dremel for this reason. It just takes me soooo long to do his nails with the clippers. He's fine with me holding his paw, touching his paw, having the clippers near, etc, but when it comes time to the cutting part, he continually pulls back and doesn't want it done, like Tucker. Plus to be honest, he's probably picking up on my nervousness because I never want to cut into his quick (he has black nails). I also have never been able to get them as short as I'd like them, and I think the dremel would help with that.

Does anyone know what is the best kind of dremel to get, the softest noise too?
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Old 06-29-2012, 09:54 AM
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At this point he's not scared of it off at all, he doesn't know what it's for. I only really brought it out like twice in the past just to see how he'd react to the noise, and he looked at it with interest and then started sulking around the room and avoiding me. But if it's off he's happy to target it and everything. I have not tried to bring it near his feet yet, I'm going to take it slow. I plan on getting him 100% used to it off, but I just feel like as soon as it's on we'll drop back to base one, or even worse and all of the original work we did with it off would have been a waste. Do you think it's better to get him used to it off completely (so all the way up through holding it against his nails off) first and then go back and go through with it on? Or would I do it off at one step, then on at the same step? So reward him for looking at it off and then reward him for looking at it on, then reward for giving me his paw while I hold it off, then reward for giving me his paw while holding it on, etc.

He's fine with me handling his feet, not a worry in the world, but bring an object near his feet and he starts thinking it's clipping time. I tried to trim his foot hair the other day and it was a disaster. It hadn't even occurred to me that he'd think the scissors were clippers, but obviously he did, or at least wanted to err on the side of caution.


I have a feeling I'll just end up attaching sand paper to a board and making him file them himself lol.


Tucker's nails are all black too (except two on his back foot), I am so afraid of quicking him, I know that will send us way back. I heard the dremel reduces that possibility, not sure if it's true.
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Old 06-29-2012, 10:03 AM
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They will tend to pull their paw back here and there, even when they are fine with the Dremel. Chuli does this. She's not afraid but it feels weird. Sometimes the vibrations drive them batty. So, be sure to use a high enough rpm. When it's too slow, it catches and causes more vibration. But you have to be super careful to only have it touching the nail for just a second (or less) per sweep and only do about 4 quick sweeps per nail, then move onto the next and come back to that one after it has a chance to cool off. I think the little dogs' nails being so small may heat up more quickly than the bigger dogs, so I'm extra careful with the Chihuahuas. Contrary to what a lot of people think, you can quick them with a Dremel. It just doesn't tend to bleed much because it cauterizes it, but it still makes ouchie. I do it by mistake fairly often. I think it hurts but not for long. At least that's the impression I'm getting from my brave little souls. So, try to take a look often and see if you can see the quick or a little hole showing at the ends of the nails.

Anyhow, back to the topic of the dogs pulling back their foot...I figure with my dogs, they've been at this for years and if they get squirrely, I just hold them and use a little force to help them keep still and tell them, "hold it" which they sort of know what I mean. I reassure them along the way that we're almost done. It does take a long time and so if they get too long, I may break it into a couple of sessions. That's the worst for my dogs...the fact that they have to hold still for so long. So, since they're not afraid or anything...just want to be finished, I will tell them, "now you hold still for a minute." And I stop every paw (at this time) and feed them liver treats, chicken or cheese. But at first, you want to feed them every nail or have someone else (if it doesn't make them too nervous to have someone else around) feed them while you're dremeling.
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"When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty."

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Old 06-29-2012, 10:12 AM
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I missed your last post Maxi. Well, I'd say, it shouldn't much matter which way you do it as long as he's fine with the thing you did before and then try raising the criteria a tad. When you raise one criterion, relax another. I haven't had enough coffee this morning to analyze that too thoroughly. But it sounds good that he's not too afraid. I bet you can do this. From what I get from my dogs, when I quick them...it seems not to hurt them that much. Or maybe they're just really stoic. I hurt Toker one time by clipping her nail which had split lengthwise and I didn't notice it. I saw that her nail was kind of long and she was standing by the door and it wasn't very light. I got her and that DID hurt her. She reflexively snapped toward me but at the air only. I apologized profusely. But that did set us back and I used a muzzle the next several times I clipped her nails. (this was before we had switched to the Dremel) I just wasn't 100% comfortable that she wouldn't bite me even though she had re-directed that time. And I kind of started from square one again....just doing a smiggen off one nail and quitting for the day. But after a while, she got comfortable again with it and we no longer used the muzzle. I've quicked them all a little from time to time but it really hasn't caused any trouble.

A sandpaper board might be just the ticket. That would be handy if you can get him to file his own nails. lol.
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"When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty."

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Old 06-29-2012, 10:17 AM
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Oh JM...I forgot about your question as to what kind of Dremel. I only know that mine is very powerful. It cost about 90 bucks, has a lot of attachments and a flexible hose thing which makes it more maneuverable. I don't know about quiet though. It's fairly noisy. Those things you buy at pet stores, I found had too low an rpm which caused catching and just didn't do the trick at all for me. I had a Dremel but bought one of those for travel so I wouldn't lose my Dremel or leave it somewhere. But I returned it because it was lousy. Maybe someone else knows more about various Dremels. I do recommend one with variable speed and I love the flexible hose which you can buy separately if it doesn't come with the kit like mine did. The variable speed allows you to run it at a somewhat more quiet level while you're getting your dog use to it. Then gradually turn it up. It is quite loud on high speed and the highest speed I only use on Toker's nails because she has hard, thick, black ones. Actually, I think I put it on the second to highest speed or thereabouts.
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"If you love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." -- Samuel Adams 1776





"When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty."

Thomas Jefferson
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Old 08-12-2012, 10:32 PM
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I know I'm a little late coming into this, but honestly, with both my dogs (one of which was 90 pounds and 9 months old when I started using the dremel) I pinned them to the ground (usually against a wall) so they couldn't escape and got to work dremel-ing. Once they calmed down, I stopped immediately, let them up with tons and tons of praise. Repeat every day. Granted, I wouldn't flood a dog unless I knew they could handle it. It only took two sessions, and on the third I was able to do all their nails.
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Old 08-13-2012, 12:30 AM
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Lol I wouldn't pin a nervous dog down... Unless you want to get bitten and violate trust! I do exactly what is done in this video for my dogs & fosters. My dogs literally come running in and line up when I bring the nail grinder out. For small dogs, a Pedipaws is efficient and quiet.

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=MuXwKqXTBsE
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Old 08-13-2012, 08:40 AM
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Just wanted to say that you all have inspired me to start working with Keeva instead of just doing one nail at a time while she's sleeping LMAO. She was fine until I quicked her like a month ago. *sigh*
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