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This dog doesn’t like having his toenail trimmed.

We’ll take a few minutes to counter condition him. First, I give him treat while handling him in order to change his emotional state. The assistant should wait until the dog is occupied with eating before she starts handling then stop handling before the dog finishes the treat. This time the dog is focused on the food the entire time he’s being handled, which lessen the likelihood that he will bite the handler. Notice our timing is off the first several times and then we got our team work down better. Our goal is to keep the handling at the right level so the dog doesn’t seem to notice that he’s being handled. After repeating one step a number of times, move to the next step. In this case, the next step is that my assistant taps his foot with a clipper. In between bouts, wait long enough so the dog understands that handling equal treats and no handling equal no treats. He should be looking expectantly at you for more treats. The assistant now puts the clipper over the nail without clipping. And, finally, she clips his nails while he’s getting a treat. This dog doesn’t even seem to notice. He’s having a good experience so the next time he’ll be even better. This entire process only took 4 minutes.

This technique works for cats, too.

And, it’s something you can easily train clients to do.

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