Thursday, September 10, 2015

One Of The Biggest Training Successes

Nola is my first dog (though I grew up with dogs from birth on), and I've made many mistakes with her. One of the biggest was not getting her accustomed to getting her feet messed with and nails trimmed as a puppy. She was conditioned to everything else, from teeth brushing to getting her temperature taken, but it never crossed my mind to get her used to her feet being handled.

When she came home until a year and a half old, we lived in a neighborhood and walked on concrete for a couple miles a day, so her nails stayed worn down on their own and never needed cut. When we moved to this house in Podunk, Florida and the concrete wasn't available, they grew. Fast.

She would absolutely panic when I attempted to trim them. She's not an easily rattled dog, but she couldn't handle nail clipping. Shaking, panting, thrashing so hard I couldn't do anything without the risk of cutting her, the whole nine yards. It'd frustrate and make me anxious on top of her panic, so we stopped, and I started counter conditioning. And bought a Dremel. So much easier to work with for a flightily dog, IME.

Counter conditioning is the process of s-l-o-w-l-y reteaching your dog that something that used to be negative and scary is a positive thing. For Nola, a highly food motivated dog, this meant giving her a fantastic treat whenever she was near the Dremel. After a while she realized that Dremel = amazing treat, and looked forward to it coming out. Same with handling her feet. Slowly I connected the two, and made having the Dremel touch her nails a fun, tasty and positive experience.

It took a while, but the complete 180 from her prior behavior is incredible. A positive reinforcement miracle if there ever was one!

Her quicks are still a bitch to keep back and I want them shorter, so they're dremeled 2-3x a week. 


  1. YAY for positive reinforcement and the wonders it can do!! Just goes to show with patience and consistency anything is possible with it. Tucker would have been the same way had I not proceeded like you with the Dremel and tasty snacks as soon as I got him. Teach has always been a dream to do anything with so he took to nail trimming with clippers or the Dremel with ease. He still gets tasty snacks when we do them just for good measure.

  2. Good job Nola. Mom was touchy feely with me since I was 12 weeks old so I let her do anything to me. I'm her baby like you are to your mom
    Lily & Edward

  3. That's awesome! The pugs hate when you mess with their feet. But they adore their vet.

  4. I know how hard this is, not only to train your dog to accept, but to remember and follow through with doing regularly.

  5. Ugh. Nola's "Then" photo is how B's nails look. She's so ultra noise sensitive that the dremel isn't an option. I use a glass nail file, but even that is a challenge. How long did it take for Nola to get used to having her paws handled?

  6. Great job!! That's amazing progress! The thrashing and freaking out that you experienced is so common in dachshunds. It's so sad. I'm really glad you took the time to work with her on it because most people don't.

    We are still working with the girls on nails but they are better than they were but still unhappy about the process.

  7. Sounds like a great success! Good for you and Nola!

  8. Oh that's fantastic!! Well done!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

  9. That is really, really impressive. Now please come to Indiana and take care of Bruce and Faolan's nails.


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