The Trauma Of Toenail Trimming

By Houndstooth

I have mentioned in the past that Flattery is a unique little character in a lot of ways.  One thing that we’ve had a lot of trouble with when it comes to our little Black Dervish is touching her feet.  I’m not sure why she’s so sensitive about it, but she definitely does not like to have her feet messed with.  Cutting her toenails has been a long series of aggravation since she came home and she was not happy with me removing her corn a few weeks ago, either.

Of course, she has to have her nails trimmed.  I don’t delude myself that I’ll ever be able to paint her toenails like I do with Bunny, but I do have dreams that we’ll be able to get her to a point where we can cut her toenails without fuss.  It might be just that, a dream.

Pink Pedicure -- Tales and Tails

Pink Pedicure

This past weekend, Mr. Taleteller was determined to cut her toenails, and the whole comedy routine that is Flattery started up.  My husband waited until she was in her usual spot in the middle of the floor, sprawled out and completely relaxed.  He quietly walked into the kitchen and opened the drawer where the nail clippers are kept.  As soon as he closed that drawer, Flattery’s eyes popped open, her bat ears went into radar mode and her head lifted up off the carpet.  Clearly, her spider sense was tingling.

The first step Mr. Taleteller took towards the living room, she was up and on the move.  She wasn’t sure where she was going, but standing still was not an option.  I sat at my computer and tried not to laugh at them.  As Flattery darted this way and that while my husband zigged and zagged, I knew that this was going to have to be a two person operation.  I got up and walked over.  Flattery immediately pressed herself against my leg, certain that I was there to save her from the evil man who was trying to steal her toenails.

He handed me a handful of treats and I talked to her a little, letting her settle against me.  Then, I got a secure grip on her and my husband picked up one of her front feet.  One toenail was clipped and treats and praise were liberally distributed.  She fought it, but the first one happened a little too fast for her to really get upset about it.  After that first toenail was cut, though, she yanked her foot away and stomped it onto the ground.

My husband then picked up her other front foot and Flattery clearly was not happy.  She wiggled and squirmed, but another one of her toenails was stolen in the blink of an eye.  That foot was slammed to the ground in an angry show of more defiance, although she did take the treat that I offered her and seemed happy that I was praising her.

From there, Mr. Taleteller went on to her back feet, even though only one toenail had been clipped on each front foot.  As he started clipping the nails on one of her back feet, she let out the Greyhound Scream of Death.  For the uninitiated, it is an unholy sound that Greyhounds reserve for the most insignificant of traumas, like rolling over on a wrinkle on the bed or getting toenails trimmed.  Normally, they are incredibly stoic dogs and when one of them is really in pain, you probably won’t know it unless you know them quite well.  They save the GSOD for when they really want to make you wet your pants and lose a few years off your life.

After a short time, the back feet were completely trimmed.  Flattery was apparently too traumatized by the whole event to even take treats from me while the last foot was being trimmed.  She whined, she cried, she wiggled and squirmed, but in a matter of minutes, her back feet were trimmed.  Mr. Taleteller and I agreed that it was time to call it enough and get the front feet at another time.  We spent several minutes praising her and fussing over her, but Flattery was not impressed.

She was angry and clearly, there was one person responsible for the whole ordeal.  That person was obviously Mr. Taleteller and she gave him the serious cold shoulder.  She refused to even look at him.  It also made her really nervous that both of us were in the same room with her and she made her exit with a flip of her tail.

I went and got in the shower since Mr. Taleteller and I were going to go out and run a few errands.  When I came out, my husband was laying on the bed watching his iPad with Flattery laying beside him.  However, she made sure her butt was by his face and that she was only tolerating him in her space since he was rubbing her belly.  When he stopped rubbing her belly, she looked over at him with a glare and gave him a short bark, then went back to laying down and shunning him like any Greyhound would who had any shred of dignity.

I’m not sure how long Flattery will hold her grudge, but I suspect that it will end sooner rather than later.  She likes her treats and her belly rubs a great deal and my husband is often the dispenser of those.  Clearly, though, she has not yet been won over by the idea that toenail trimming is a good thing.

You Rang? -- Tales and Tails

You Rang?



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  • Crystal

    You should come join our Thursday Nail Trim Facebook group. There are a ton of tips and tricks for getting your dog used to getting their nails regularly done. And, of course, there are weekly reminders to get the nails done every week.

    • http://TalesandTails.com/ houndstooth

      I’ll check it out! We’ve had dogs all our lives and while we’ve had a few that weren’t in love with getting their nails trimmed, we haven’t had anybody with Flattery’s level of resistance. It’s a sight to behold!

      • http://littlemissjackie.wordpress.com/ Little Miss Jackie

        I think I would like a support group!

  • http://littlemissjackie.wordpress.com/ Little Miss Jackie

    I agree with Miss Flattery, I don’t like getting my toes trimmed at all!! I always run back to Mom after Dad does my nails. At least it doesn’t take very long!

    • http://TalesandTails.com/ houndstooth

      She’s thinking about starting a support group!

  • Sue Dyer

    Song didn’t like her feet touched and neither does Polly. She’s going to the vets shortly for her annual jabs and I will get the vet to cut her nails. With me she’ll squirm and make a right fuss, yet as soon as she’s in the treatment room she goes into Vet Mode, where she just stands still and stares straight ahead.

    • http://TalesandTails.com/ houndstooth

      I am not sure what Flattery will do when the day comes that her nails get trimmed by someone at the vet’s office…

  • Sharron Brittingham

    Love this! We had similar issues many years ago when we adopted Gator & we have similar issues with Tomas. We decided to switch to a Dremel (first a corded one & now a cordless). Our girls, Gigi & Teresa are not too bad with getting their nails trimmed while lying on their beds. Lots of praise & treats afterwards have helped. However, Tomas is another story. We’ve tried both of us praising, petting him while on his bed. We’ve tried him standing and leaning into one of us. We have had the best luck with him going to the laundry room, standing on a rubber-backed rug (commercial grade, no pile to the rug) and dremelling while his foot is on the floor or barely lifted off the floor. Takes some doing but my hubby has gotten this down to a science.

    • http://TalesandTails.com/ houndstooth

      All of our other hounds have been big fans of the nail grinder and have preferred it over having them clipped, but it has a small noise that it makes that tips her off. He’s been using the clippers because he can approach in stealth mode.

      • Sue Dyer

        I doubt even stealth mode works on Flattery:) LOL

  • http://bringingupbella.com/ Leslie

    Oh my – look at that face. Clearly someone is still a bit perturbed by the whole toenail incident. lol Poor Flattery.

    • http://TalesandTails.com/ houndstooth

      Definitely NOT a happy camper!

  • sage

    You are a lot braver than I am. Sage and Flattery must be related–Sage absolutely HATES her feet touched no matter how many treats are offered. I’ve tried many times to trim her nails. And failed. Fortunately I found someone who will do it and she trims them as one would do a horse (from behind). Sage never knew what happened! :D

    • http://TalesandTails.com/ houndstooth

      Flattery is a bit of a dramatic free spirit. We’re working on it, and I think she’ll come around once she makes the connection to the pay off.

  • Casey the Boxer

    Ohhhh, that is not a happy face! Teach them a lesson, Flattery!

    • http://TalesandTails.com/ houndstooth

      I’m sure she has plans! lol

  • http://www.greytmusings.com/ Lori Clark

    Goodness! Paddy had feet issues, too. I could occasionally rub his feed and did this as much as possible to help rid him of his foot fear. With George, it isn’t nearly as bad. He will even let me dremmel, although treats are also in abundance with him. The girls, they were angels. They would let me dremmel them without any issues. Jade had SLO, so they got used to it fairly quickly. Kisses to Flattery for her trials and tribulations and many, too, for the beautiful Miss Bunny for her courage in always being such a wonderful hound. I miss having beautiful girly toes to paint!

    • http://TalesandTails.com/ houndstooth

      We prefer the nail grinder, but she can hear it coming, so the clippers have been employed for stealth mode. The rest of our dogs really prefer the grinder. Flattery is a unique little spirit!

  • Emma

    I don’t like anyone messing with my nails either, but I understand it will be done, so I let Mom do it every couple weeks. She bought a Dremel and wants to use that, but so far, Katie is the only one that will allow it.

    • http://TalesandTails.com/ houndstooth

      Our dogs all really prefer the nail grinder. Flattery can hear it, though, and so the clippers have been employed so we can sneak up on her. I’m hoping we can get her to like the grinder as much as our other dogs do.

  • jan

    Dog memory is a mysterious thing, It can last minutes or years.

    • http://TalesandTails.com/ houndstooth

      That is SO very true!

  • http://www.hazelstravelinglife.blogspot.com/ Hazel(Class A Greyhounds…)

    Ha Ha HA HA! At least you had TWO humans trying to get this job done!

    • http://TalesandTails.com/ houndstooth

      I think it might require three! O.o

  • M. K. Clinton

    Poor Mr. Taleteller gets the stink eye from Flattery. We gave up trying to cut Bentley’s nails ourselves. A battle that he won! He gets his nails trimmed at the vet and doesn’t mind at all. As long as Mom isn’t trying to cut his toes off, it’s okay. ☺☺

  • Reilly & Denny Cowspotdogs

    Have you tried doing her nails with a dremmel – that is what we use and it always soothes Reilly to sleep. She may also have a touch of arthritis in her feet which may be way she doesn’t like them being touched

  • Kate Obrien

    Poor Flattery, the indignity of it all.

  • Two French Bulldogs

    Gaw-geous
    Lily & Edward

  • http://dogthusiast.com/ Jen: DOGthusiast&StylishCanine

    Mort knows a thing or two about hating having his nails trimmed! He came to us with ingrown fear, and it was amplified after a bad decision to accept sedation at the vets to get them trimmed – we had to head in because the desensitization was going so slowly, and my husband and I couldn’t trim them ourselves. Took three techs at the vets just to hold him, and they had to give up and recommend sedation (I don’t blame them, but it was a bad solution). He goes from calm to air snaps in about 0.3 seconds – he’s a pretty intense fellow. I had to take him back again (my continued attempts at desensitization went too slow and were failing), and refused sedation and it still took 3 people and I feared he would have a heart attack he was so panicked and scared.

    After a series of desensitization periods, trying many different things/attempts/slow/reward/etc, I ended up having to train him to file his nails on a board himself (which he loves). Definitely a last resort thing, but it is tiding us over for now because he’ll chew off his dew claws (blessed with front and rear ones… of course), and the back nails seem to file down naturally and/or he’ll chew those too. Sigh. Not the best as they do file in sort of strange “shapes” but it does improve the situation a lot and gets them down to the quick! I have a blog post up on my site from a few months ago about our “solution” with a video.

  • Sara Blair

    I can totally relate!

    My dogs nails are so long, because it is a circus act every time we try and cut them. Glad I’m not the only one :)

  • cindylusmuse

    Flattery sounds just like Chester. Claw-clippin’ time was always a nightmare, and an unsuccessful attempt at that.
    On another note…CindyLu is quite envious of Bunny’s pretty toenails! She wants to know if you’ll do hers?

  • Jessica Rhae

    When Gretel first came to live with me she would strain and sweat (yes…perspire) when I would clip her nails. Now she usually freezes like a deer in headlights but she tolerates it. It’s the little victories when it comes to nail clipping :)

  • Dory and the Mama

    My husband and I were traumatized the first time we attempted to cut Bilbo’s nails. He is the ultimate drama king and cried, whimpered, wiggled and screamed….we cut one of his nails to short and it bled….we were guilty for months to come.

    This taught us that we don’t have the nerve to cut the pack’s nails and now leave it to the groomer….yes, yes, we are big scaredy humans. LOL

  • BZ Dogs

    Poor dear! FWIW: I used to dremel Beau’s toenails as he wouldn’t stand for clippers of any sort. I would hold a paw in one hand and the dremel in the other, and he would hold my non-dremel forearm in his mouth. I’m not sure if he was seeking security or saying, “We aren’t going to hurt each other, are we?” I’m pleased to report neither dog nor peep was ever harmed. :)

  • http://www.somethingwagging.com Pamela | Something Wagging

    I bet Flattery has taught Mr. Taleteller to put the trimmer in his pocket hours before he’s planning to use it, eh? You can’t give away your insidious plan so quickly.

  • http://romp-roll-rockies.blogspot.com/ KB – RompRollRockies

    It sounds like you are on the road to trimming all those nails! We never had a dog who really hated it until R. In his case, he was fine with it until about a year ago. Then, he became very upset, to the point that he would actually air snap very near my skin. We finally figured out that his elbow was the reason. After his surgery, he gradually returned to being okay with it… but, as Pamela suggested, I slip the clipper in my pocket hours ahead of time, and then I move in on R when he’s sleeping. He does much better if he doesn’t have time to get worked up before the actual event!

    I hope that Flattery gradually mellows out about it. Even one nail per session is ok (that’s what I did with R when he was “recovering”). I had the clipper in my pocket almost all the time, waiting for a relaxed moment to clip one nail. But, I had to write on the calendar which one I’d done and on which date because otherwise I might’ve clipped one nail over and over for months.