10 Nail Care Tips

An essential part of the grooming process, trimming a dog’s nails represents an opportunity to enhance your standing with clients—both canine and human.

Trimming nails is an important part of grooming. As we all know, it affects a dog’s health, as well as its appearance. Dogs are meant to walk on their pads, with the nails touching the ground only when running or when needed for traction. Unfortunately, most pet owners do not understand that groomers can only shorten the nails to the quick and expect us to magically create perfect nails on a dog that does not have its nails trimmed often enough. 

Here are 10 tips and tricks to help groomers do the very best job they can with their canine clients’ nails:

#1 - Educate the pet owner. 
The more pet owners understand about how nails function and grow, the more receptive they will be to more frequent nail trims. 

#2 - Charge for the service. 
Sure, if you have a regular client you want to please, throw in a free nail trimming or give a reduced price. However, people think a product or service is worth what they paid for it. If nail trims are free, their value is diminished—and that’s not fair to the dog, as it will lead to the owner thinking nail trimming is unimportant, a frivolous extra. We know how vital it is.

#3 - Always leave nails smooth. 
This can be done by cutting to the right length and then cutting tiny bits away all around the sharp edge. You can also use a file (I’m personally fond of pedicure emery boards—coarse—which are available at beauty supply stores) or use a dremel-type tool. Dogs scratching themselves with sharp nails can have disastrous results. Dogs happy to see their owners will jump up on them, and ruined clothing probably won’t lead to great tips. 

#4 - Never run out of styptic. 
Available as a powder or gel, with or without benzocaine, make sure this nail-trimming essential is on hand. Apply using a slightly dampened cotton swab, a pinch between thumb and forefinger, or press the nail into a styptic powder holder. 

#5 - Sell complementary products.
Consider selling nutritional supplements aimed at nail health. Also consider selling nail caps, with a fee to apply them, of course.

#6 - Lessen the stress on dogs.
Put a Happy Hoodie on a dog when doing its nails. This will muffle the noise of the nail trimmer or dremel, and it will provide a slight distraction. 

#7 - Watch the fur.
When using a dremel on a long-haired dog, push the nails through a child’s loose weave sock, or a section of tights. The hair will be contained safely while the nail is exposed. 

#8 A little training goes a long way.
If a dog hates having its nails trimmed, train it to like it—or at least allow it. Fighting is dangerous and exhausting for everyone. Watch Dr. Sophia Yin’s youtube.com video, “Dog Aggressive for Toenail Trim.” And charge appropriately for the time to work with the dog.

#9 - Assist DIY clients.
Teach owners how to trim nails, if they ask—and sell them the tools they need. You can’t lose. Either they learn and the dog has shorter nails and is better behaved because they are used to it, or they don’t learn and you got the price of the tools and keep the nail trim customer. 

#10 - Try new things. 
You never know what will suit you and the different dogs you work on. Also, as your physical abilities change with age, experience or injury, the tools you prefer may change as well, so always be willing to try something different. 


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