My nails are pretty much out of control. Sure, they get trimmed, but I don’t like it. It’s not that my mom isn’t good at it. Heck, she’s the one who volunteers to help dogs get over their fear of the nail trimmers. She’s been working with me since Day One, and I’ll tolerate it, but I still don’t like it.
One day she got the bright idea that I should trim my own nails, and maybe then I’d like it more. She’s got lots of dog nerd friends on Facebook, so one day she asked how she would begin “shaping” the nail filing behavior. So many people had great suggestions on how to get started. Sara Scott suggested putting a cookie underneath a towel and teaching a “scratching” behavior to start. Miki Merin reminded us that I already have a propensity for using my paws when I find the odor in nosework, which is something that is frowned upon in that environment but could come in handy here.
Even more people had suggestions on what could be used as a giant emory board, from a piece of flagstone to coating a board with no-slip tape or sandpaper. We went with a wine-box lid and no-slip tape, since that seemed the easiest.
At first she tried traditional shaping with me and I sort of got it, but kept thinking all I had to do was touch the board with my paw. Then she decided to cheat a little and put a drop of birch oil (one of the scents we use in nosework) on the board and I started scratching away. If we were still actively competing in nosework then this might be a little confusing, but since we’re taking a break she figured it wouldn’t hurt to use it in order to jump start the process. It worked! I scratched the board, she captured the behavior, and pretty soon I could just do it on my own.
I’ve been filing my nails every day now, and it’s the most fun game ever!
By the way, if you’re curious or have a training question, we will be having a series of guest trainers come to the shop this fall so you can meet with them and expand your knowledge. Check our Events Page for a current listing!