Does your dog hate having their nails clipped? Try this trainer's genius solution

Close-up of woman's hand holding dog paw
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It’s a good idea to keep on top of your dog’s nails, as living with nails that are too long can be unpleasant for your pup.

However, dogs often find having their nails clipped to be stressful, and this can have a knock-on effect on their parents, too. It can be tricky to get your dog to stay calm and still when you’re clipping their nails, and you risk hurting them if they move suddenly – and no dog parent wants that!

But what if you filed your dog’s nails instead? You can do so using a scratchpad, and some of the best dog treats, for a far less stressful alternative to clipping their nails. And certified dog trainer San Choi of Ruff Roll Academy has explained just how you can go about it in a new Instagram post! So, let’s take a look.

You know how to clip a dog’s nails, but your own pup just isn’t having it. Sound familiar? Instead of clipping, begin by simply introducing a scratchpad to your dog. 

Grab something like a frisbee or a cutting board and attach it to the scratchpad with adhesive spray. Begin with the non-abrasive side, and say a marker word like “yes” to your dog when they touch it. 

Choi says, “By saying yes, you’re able to teach your dog to scratch more.”

Give them a treat when they do so, too. Gradually progress to your dog scratching it. 

“We really want to make sure that our dog understands that the treats are happening when they touch the object,” explains Choi. 

Then, when they’re comfortable, you can switch to the abrasive side. You might decide to alternate between both sides to begin with, as your dog gradually becomes more comfortable with the abrasive side. 

When it comes to older or younger dogs, a normal nail file can also be useful. If you have a puppy with soft toenails, or an older dog with brittle nails, a nail file can help prevent pain and bleeding – even if you usually clip their nails instead. 

Remember to check your dog’s paw pads for foreign bodies as well as look between their toes for any issues, and consult your vet if there’s anything you’re unsure of. 

If you’ve been struggling with your dog’s nails and want to give filing them a go instead, you’re not alone. You might find this article useful: My dog hated having her nails clipped, so I built her a nail scratch board instead.

Hamiledyi Dog Scratch Pad for Nails
$18.88 at Walmart

Hamiledyi Dog Scratch Pad for Nails
$18.88 at Walmart
The perfect solution for maintaining your pet's paw health, this scratch pad measures 19.69" x 9.06" and is suitable for small to medium breeds. Made from durable wood materials, it comes with two replacement sheets of sandpaper for long-term use. 

Adam England
Freelance Writer

Adam is a freelance journalist covering pets, lifestyle, health and culture, and he has six years' experience in journalism. He was senior editor at, and has written for The Independent, GoodToKnow and Healthline

He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' golden retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.