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Why Use The Dog Scratch Pad For Nail Filling

Why Use The Dog Scratch Pad For Nail Filling

Scratch Pad

The dog scratch pad or dog scratch board’s uses sandpaper attached to a board. It is like filing your nails instead of clipping them. It teaches the dog to file their own nails using the paw trick. It does not require you to desensitize your dog to clippers.

Why Use The Dog Scratch Pad

The Dog Scratch Pad Method Is:

  • Easy To Learn
  • No Bleeding
  • Easy To Teach

1. It's Best For Dogs Who Are Already Afraid Of The Clipper

Many dogs have had bad experiences with nail clippers. Does your dog allow you to touch his paws but not when you have clippers in your hand? If this is the case, the dog scratch board method is ideal for you. 

2. Clippers Tend To Sharpen Nails

Regular clippers tend to create short BUT sharp nails. The board allows the dog to file their nails using a scratchboard. This creates DULL short nails unlike clippers. No more cuts on your hand, legs, and face.  

3. Filing Too Short Is Unlikely (No More Bleeding)

The dog scratch pad is better suited for gradual nail filling which prevents hitting blood vessels. 

Use The Dog Scratch Pad For Most Of The Nails

You Don't Need To File Back Nails

The dog scratch pad is more effective at filing the front paws than the back. While it is possible to teach a dog to dig backwards it is not needed. Your dogs back paws are usually short on their own. This is because when dogs go uphill the nails tend to trim naturally. 

Use Clippers For The Dew Claw

Dogs that are afraid of clippers usually let you get one good clip. Let that clip be the dew claw. This is because the dew claw sticks out to the side. The paw or wave motion of using the does not allow the dew claw (which is positioned to the side) to be filled down. Below I explain how to train clippers. However, for dogs who are already afraid of the clippers it may be too late. Get that one good clip in and use the scratch pad for everything else. 

The Scratch Pad Method Requires Knowing How To Paw

But the good news is once the dog knows paw he only needs to paw at the board 2-4 times a week. This prevents the quick (or blood vessels) from inching closer to the nail.  It usually takes less time than clippers even through its more frequent. 

Why The Dog Scratch Pad Is Better Than Going To The Groomers Or Vet?

Groomers Will:

Top Boards To Buy

How To Make Your Own (Its More Expensive Though)

3 Step DIY Dog Scratch Pad

You can make your own dog scratch board with two different version. The inclined board or the non incline board. Incline scratch pad are ideal because it allows the dog to get a proper angle. However, DIY does not tend save the user much money. I would suggest buying one. 


How To Make A Dog Scratch Pad

Ready To Use Options

How To Teach The Scratch Board Method

How do you know if your dog's nails need to be trimmed?

5 step process to teaching the scratch pad method

If you can hear your dog’s nails on the floor they are too long and need to be trimmed. To test if your dog’s nails are too long, take them to a room with hardwood or tile floors and listen. If they are clanky they are too long & are likely snagging on things like the carpet.

What Pet Parents Do Wrong?

How do you know if your dog's nails need to be trimmed?

Long nails are panful and they effect the dogs natural gait. If the dog changes their gait to adjust for their long nails they are prone to injury. According to Dr. Sarah Hane Hobbs “Ensuring that nails do not get too long is important for maintaining distal joint positions correctly (as longer nails are likely to increase dorsiflexion)”

What Happens If You Don't Trim Them?

Abnormal spine and posture can be caused by many types of illnesses; however, one preventable cause is nail length. When nails touch the floor they can begin to curl causing the dog to shift its weight to the side to maintain balance. Shifting weight can cause the dog to put too much strain on joints, muscles, and tendons. 

When their nails touch the ground, dogs may also shift their weight to their rear legs. This causes abnormal posture.

To determine if your dog has an irregular posture put your dog in the stand position. Your dog’s legs should be over their chest or pelvic and weight should be equally distributed. If your dog has an abnormal stance you should examine his nails and/or contact your vet for a diagnosis.

Dogs should walk in a four-beat gait, in which each limb steps sequentially and not at the same time. It is very common to see dogs walk at a pace. A pace is when two legs on each side move simultaneously or at the same time. When the nail begins to curve under it will dig into the paw. Therefore, each time a step is made it will cause the dog to jolt its body upwards straining the neck, back and head. This movement is what has been linked to lameness in horses. According to the research, quadruped’s musculoskeletal is not efficiently built for this movement. 

Natural filing of nails occurs when dogs run, chase, and play; however most dogs are confined in household environments which causes their nails to be abnormally long.  The only time a dogs nails should naturally touch the floor is when they are moving uphill. Therefore, when a dog’s nails hit the ground it gives feedback to the brain to shift their weight to the rear. The shifting of the weight in non-hill circumstances can cause overuse of the rear muscles, limping (lameness) or myofascial trigger points and weakness in other muscles. 

When nails are allowed to grow uncontrollably they can curve inside and poke through the pad. This is extremely painful for dogs and can cause infection.

Getting That Dew Claw

Traditional Clipping

Traditional methods uses clippers. It focuses on desensitizing your dog to having their nails clipped.  This method takes time, increases the chance for nail bleeding but unlike the dog scratch pad method the rear paws are done more easily. However, If your dog is already afraid of the clippers, this is to be used on the dew claw only. 

Why Not To Use This Method For Anything But The Dew Claw

The dog scratch pad method takes less time to teach. In addition, the traditional method is more prone to cause bleeding (especially with black nails). 

Why Use This Method With The Dog Scratch Board Method

You can use this method in conjunction with the dog scratch board method. Typically you get one good clip with the traditional method before your dog is aware of what you are up to. Save this method for the dew claw and use the dog scratch pad method for all other nails. 

Equipment Used In The Traditional Method

There are two types of nail clippers.  The scissor style clippers and the guillotine style clippers.  The scissor style clippers are more precise and harder to hold. However the guillotine style clippers are better for thicker nails and are easier to hold.  I recommend the following:

Scissor Style Clippers

Guillotine Style Clippers

How To Teach The Traditional Method For Getting The Dew Claw

The first thing you need to do is determine the color of your dog nails. Your dog may have all white nails, all black nails, or mixed.

The focus of this exercise is for you to see every angle of your dog’s nails.. At this stage, you should be looking at your dog’s nails and trying to identify the quick. The quick is the part that supplies the nail with blood. The quick will bleed if you cut it. With white nails, the quick will be pink and easier to see. The quick will create a lightened effect on the nail’s natural color. As a result, black nails will have a greyish tone. If you are struggling to find the tone change try a different angle or compare the nail to the white ones. The quick may be similarly located on the nail (but not always).

Holding the dog’s dew paws in awkward positions replicates the real process of trimming your dog’s nails. This is because you may need to adjust your position. Many times we see videos of the dog sitting perfectly still on the table. But this is not real life. If you have not practiced multiple positions your dog may react. Training in this manner helps you better identify the quick. If your dog has been well trained he should not wiggle.

  • This method starts with actively playing with your dog’s paws. 
  • This gets them comfortable with their feet being touched.
  • Unlike other training videos. Paw handling is done more realistically.
  • Start holding their paw at different angles and in different positions.
  • Hold your dog’s paws while he is laying down, standing up, facing you, in front of you or, or to the side of you.
  • Hold the paw from different angles or sides.

For example, bend the paw at the wrist or extended. Rotate your dog’s hip or shoulder by pulling it towards you. The hip would move towards you like they would do when peeing on a hydrant. Be gentle. Continue the Side-Toe-Side Method and begin altering your position with his paw in your hand. Do not let go of his paw. Hold his paw and move from a sit to lying down. The more angles you come from the more comfortable your dog will be when you need to change positions.  Additionally, some angles will allow you to see the change of tone in black claws more easily. At this stage, you should be looking at your dog’s nails and trying to identify the quick. The quick is the part that supplies the nail with blood. The quick will bleed if you cut it. Professional groomers have a hard time identifying quicks on black nails. But you can hold his paw at different angles in a different light which means you have the advantage.  Remember, you have two things groomers and vets do not have: Trust and Time.

  1. Put your hands inside their paws
  2. Hold his paw at different angles and;
  3. You can see the grey tone change in black nails.
  1. Have the clippers nearby on the floor
  2. Reward your dog with treats and praise.
  3. Gradually move the clippers closer. Always praising or rewarding. 
  1. Hold the clippers in your dominant hand.
  2. Play with his paw with your less dominant hand.
  3. Practice all the different angles you practiced above.
  4. Remember to reward with cookies if possible.
  5. At this stage, you may need to ask for help from a family member or friend for the rewarding part.
  1. Using a straw, stick, or any like object, clip it near your dog.
  2. Reward as soon as possible.
  3. This is done easily with another person.
  1. Touch the clippers to your dogs paws 
  2. Do not cut or make the snapping sound.
  3. Repeat using the different angle technique.
  4. Repeat this process but have the nail inside the guillotine or clipper.
  1. Make sure to trim little by little.
  2. You do not want to accidentally cut a lot of the quick.

6 Steps To Desensitize Your Dog To Clippers?

6 steps to desensitize a dog to nail clippings

File Using A Dremel

The Dremel method uses a rotary tool to file the nails. It requires you to desensitize your dog. This is similar to the side toe side method but is filing not clipping.

Why Not To Use This Method

Training the Dremel method is just as grueling as the traditional method. This especially  inefficient when it takes less time to train the scratch pad method. In addition, this method could heat up the paw to the point of pain. However, just like with the dog scratch pad method there is less of a chance of bleeding. However, this chance is greater than using the scratch pad method. This is because with the dog scratch board method your dog controls how filed the nail gets. 


They make ones specifically for nail trimming but any model will do if it has a speed setting @ 5000-7000 rpm

How To Teach The Dremel Method?

What Happens If Your Dog’s Nail Starts Bleeding?

Use baking soda or corn starch on the nail and compress with a towel until bleeding stops. Bleeding typically stops between 5-20 minutes. Otherwise, you can buy styptic powder on amazon if you prepared in advance.

My Recommended Method: The Dog Scratch Pad

The dog scratch pad is the best method for owners who are scared of cutting the quick. It is also much cheaper then hiring a groomer who is very likely to accidentally make your dog bleed. Owners tend to use the scratchboard method more frequently than traditional desensitization techniques. Frequency is key here because the more often you clip the nails the shorter the quick gets. Whether that means clipping, using scratchboard or a Dremel, pick what is right for you. 

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