Do you and your dog both dread toe-nail trims?  Then why not give your dog the opportunity to give themselves a pedicure on their own by making it into a simple trick? By taping some sandpaper to a plywood board or something similar, you can create a canine nail file! It is easy to train a dog to swipe their paw on the sandpaper, and as they do so, they will end up filing their own nails. Doing a few swipes a day a couple times a week can keep nails from getting unmanageable, and reduce how frequently you need to do full toe-nail trims.

To train this behavior:

  1. Hold the sandpaper-covered board low and at a slight angle in front of your dog.
  2. If your dog already knows to shake, high five, or wave, give their cue to do that behavior, then mark/reward as their paw touches the board in any way on the way down.  (If your dog does not already know a paw behavior, you can place some treats under the board, and mark/reward as they start to scratch at it.)
  3. Begin increasing the angle of the board, so the paw makes a full swipe on the board as it is lowered.
  4. Raise criteria by waiting for more swipes, and/or swipes with both paws.A video example is here:
    (Note: Cadence is wearing a GPS activity tracker/locator on his collar, not an electronic collar!)

On to Training Part 2!

About Angela Schmorrow, Behavior Specialist

Angela loves helping owners better understand their dogs using force-free methods and positive reinforcement that make training enjoyable for both people and dogs. She has a particular passion for helping dogs overcome fear, anxiety, and reactivity. Angela is a Certified Shelter Behavior Professional, a Karen-Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner, and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer.