Many of our clients are intimidated by trimming their pet's nails. I've taken an exerpt from the American Kennel Club Dog Care and Training Book on how to trim your dogs nails for those who would like to try this themselves.
If you're absolutely unnerved of the thought of nail trimming, find a veterinarian or groomer to do it for you. This service usually costs very little and goes a long way in keeping your dog comfortable.
Nail trimmers come in a variety of types. The most common nail trimmer is the guillotine trimmer. The top of the dog's nail is inserted into the opening of this metal tool above the cutting blade. When the handle is squeezed together, the cutting mechanism is activated. Other nail trimmer types are the scissors type and the safety nail trimmer, which is equipped with a safety stop near the cutting blade to limit the amount of nail trimmed. Then there are nail files and electric nail trimmers.
Nails seem to grow at different rates in different dogs. In any case, one rule holds true: the nails must be kept short for the feet to remain healthy. Long nails interfere with the dog's gait, making walking awkward or painful. They can also break easily. This usually happens at the base of the nail, where blood vessels and nerves are located, and precipitates a trip to the veterinarian.
Another problem affects dogs whose overgrown nails curl toward the foot, eventually piercing the sensitive pads and causing deep pad infections. Dewclaws most frequently become overgrown, presumably because owners commonly overlook them. Many breeders routinely have dewclaws removed when puppies are a few days old. Check your puppy when you get it. If its dewclaws are intact, you must be sure to keep the nails short at all times. These problems can be easily prevented with regular nail care.
To begin with, regularly stroke the puppy's feet, gently touching each toe in turn. Allow it to become accustomed to having this delicate part of the body handled, so it won't be apt to panic when you get down to business later.
Unfortunately, some dogs never adjust to having their nails trimmed. They need only see the clippers and they're squalling, long before you're anywhere near a nail. In that case, trimming nails becomes a two-person job: one person to hold the dog, the other to do the work. It can still be a test of wills. That's why you should accustom your young puppy to nail care. It increases the likelihood of maintaining peace when the animal is fully grown.
Unpigmented nails are simple to trim. If your dog has at least one unpigmented nail, examine it closely. You should see a small pink triangle extending from the base of the nail narrowing toward the tip. This triangle houses the blood supply and nerves, which you want to avoid when trimming the nail. Position the nail trimmer so that it clearly bypasses the pink area, and proceed to clip. That's all there is to nail trimming.
Of course, trimming nails is infinitely more challenging in dogs with black or pigmented nails. Because you can't see the pink part, you must estimate how much nail to clip. To be on the safe side, trim only the part of each nail which hooks downward. The trimmed nail should just clear the floor.