First growl during nail trim

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#1
15 month old intact Bouvier, just rumbled at me during nail trim, several times. This is the first time anything like this has ever happened. In fact, it's the first time I've heard him growl at all. It was more like a closed mouth rumble, but he was clearly wishing I wasn't grabbing at his paws.

Obviously I need to address this ASAP by desensitizing him to the process. Any proven protocols for doing this?

I'm thinking of starting with holding the leg, and feeding him his two meals a day while doing various leg holds. Then paw holds. Then toe separation, then clipper against nail.

Thoughts? Ideas?
 

Maxy24

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#2
Is he usually unhappy about it or was he really fine up to this point? I'd be a bit concerned about pain if it's the first time he's had any issue with it. Check if he's unhappy about it outside of nail trimming.


For Tucker the best thing was distracting him. I did work extensively on desensitizing first. I made sure to include his feet when I was petting him normally. Then I started practicing holding his feet still while giving treats. Then separating his toes and holding one out like I was going to clip that nail. Then touching the clippers to his nail while feeding treats. But even after all of that, once I went ahead and clipped one he completely fell apart and would not let me get the clippers near his toes again.

I was finally able to clip his nails by spreading cheese (you could use peanut butter) on the table in front of him (he stands on a small table while I clip his nails) so he wasn't focused on what I was doing. Then started slowly clipping nails, starting with just a couple at first and only on his preferred paws (he's much better with his fronts than backs). Now I can do all of them at once.

Also make sure you don't push. If he lets you clip one nail without a fight it might be smart to leave it at that for now and try again an hour or day later. You don't want to get to the point where he's fighting you because then you have to either hold on and risk escalating his aggression and making him hate the process even more or let go and risk teaching him that fighting works. Figure out how much he can handle and stop before you get there.
 
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#3
He never loves it, but usually tolerates it. I know his paws and skin has been itchy lately again, worse than usual, so I wonder if that's part of it.

I can play with his feet all I like if I'm not holding clippers or a grinder.
 
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Oh, and I should say that I've tried spreading food out (peanut butter) for him to lick while I do it, but he ignores the food as soon as I grab his feet.
 

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