GREAT Day For a Hike!!! and Doggie Nail Files

Welcome to Peaceable Paws!


It finally got out of the 50’s here in Western Maryland… yesterday and today in the 80’s, YAY, that’s more like it!!!!!

Today was a GREAT day for a hike – sunny, nice breeze, so, of course, I had to take the dogs out for a run, and we all had a great time.










I *think* this is called “Fleabane” or “Robin’s Plaintain” (Erigeron pulchellus) but not 100% sure. Can anyone help me?

They ran and ran and ran and ran, (Kai gets to go off leash, Sunny stays on a long line), waded in the creek, stopped to smell the flowers and are now both appropriately crashed on our cool hardwood floors. Might have to hike again tomorrow – it’s supposed to rain all next week… (sad face).

At the end of this hike on our way back up the hill to the house a turkey ran across the field right in front of us and then flew up into the trees. I wasn’t quick enough to get a picture though, darnit! Kai was a very good boy – he started after the turkey and came back when I called him. Good boy, Kai!! Saw butterflies today too – but not close enough (or still enough) for photos. Soon!

The Iris survived the frosty nights and are now in full bloom!

We had a PPaws staff meeting conference call Wednesday, and with Governor Hogan opening Phase 1 in Maryland yesterday, we talked about (fingers crossed) re-opening Peaceable Paws cautiously in June, starting with private consults in early June, outdoor group classes in mid-June, and Academies in early July if all goes well. We’re all eager to get back, and thanks to our vet-tech (RVT)/trainer Layne Tubby, we now have detailed written guidelines written for how to do that as safely as possible – with masks, social distancing and *lots* of cleaning and disinfecting. Thanks Layne!!! You can watch this blog, our website ( or our Constant Contact announcements for more information on our (fingers crossed again) reopening schedule. 

Private Training and Consults

Outdoor Group Classes



And now for today’s training piece: Nail Filing.


It’s tough when you have a dog who finds nail trimming very aversive. Many dogs seem to be naturally wary of having their paws restrained even with early puppy conditioning, and it doesn’t help when, sooner or later, a nail gets quicked. While some dogs do seem happier about the dremel grinder, others find this noisy vibrating tool equally off-putting. It doesn’t help that so may owners. with the best of intentions, hand their dogs off to the vet tech or groomer and go off shopping while their dog is forcibly restrained for the procedure. When they return to pick up Max they are often given a standard “He was fine!” report, regardless of how violently he may have resisted.

You can put all that trauma behind you and your dog if you take the time to teach her how to file her own nails. Here’s how:

  1. Make a canine nail file, either using a wide board (8″ to 24″ wide, depending on the size of your dog) or a large diameter PVC pipe. The PVC pipe will do a better job of filing the side 2 nails, but you will have to stabilize it in some kind of brace so it doesn’t roll. Cover the board or the inside of the pipe with coarse sandpaper or stick-on tape that is used on wooden steps to make them slip-proof (it’s rough, like extremely coarse sandpaper and the adhesive lasts through anything).
  2. Start doing “101 Things To Do With a Canine Nail File.” Put the board or stabilized pipe on the ground, and click or mark your dog for any interaction with the file – looking at it, sniffing it, stepping toward it, stepping on it, etc. Keep your criteria low and be very generous with your clicks and treats to keep her happily engaged with it.
  3. When she is actively and consistently interacting with the board, begin shaping for foot movement, very gradually raising criteria. If you raise criteria too quickly she will decide the same has stopped and she will stop playing.
  4. You will eventually want her to file her nails on all four paws, but it’s easiest to start with the front feet. Remember to click for movement of either front paw – you want her to be able to do both!
  5. When she realizes you want her to touch her paw(s) to the board, you can raise criteria for a tiny bit of paw movement, then gradually, raise criteria for more and more paw movement, until she is filing her nails. Yay team!!
  6. When you are getting consistent, deliberate paw interaction with the board, add your cue. I like “Do your nails!” – but of course you can use any cue you like.

Lucy files her nails.

Nail Filing Tips:

  1. You can put the board/pipe at a slight angle to increase the likelihood of paw movement. Be sure to brace it well so it doesn’t slip and scare your dog!
  2. Remember to maintain a high rate of reinforcement. If you raise criteria too quickly and reinforcement drops your dog is likely to quit the game.
  3. If you think you’re going too slow, slow down… or as trainer/friend Laura Glaser Harrington says, “Think Crockpot, not Microwave.”
  4. When you’re ready to do hind paws, start over. It  might help to start in a different location, where she doesn’t already have the “front paw” association. If your dog already knows back up (see last week’s blog!) you can back her up to the board, start shaping hind paw movement. Gradually raise criteria, as you did with front paws, until she is filing those back nails. She may be confused at first – be patient! When she’s got it, add a new cue, so you can cue front or hind paw filing separately.
  5. Alternatively, if you have a dog who “scrapes” after eliminating, capture the scraping, put it on cue, and transfer it to the board. (Hint – this one is easier, if you have the choice)

CAUTION: Some dogs like filing their own nails so much that they will file them until they bleed. Be sure to pick up your nail file in between sessions so your dog can’t quick herself!

So there you are – nail-trimming trauma – gone. Have fun with it!

As always – stay safe and well. We hope to see you back at PPaws soon!!


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