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puppy getting nails trimmed

How to Trim Your Puppy’s Nails (At Home)

TLC Pet Food gives tips and advice on how to trim your puppy’s nails from home safely and with ease once their nails have grown too long.

For new puppy parents and seasoned veterans alike, pulling out the clippers and eyeing up your pet can be somewhat daunting. Will they sit still long enough? What happens if you clip too far? We’ve gathered helpful tips and advice to guide you through how to trim your puppy’s nails. It can take some time, but with a little patience and persistence, you can give your pup that much needed touch up!


Busting out the clippers without warning and trying to grab your pet’s paw is likely not going to get you anywhere and worse, could leave your pup feeling stressed and anxious. Allow your puppy or dog to become familiar with the clippers by holding them in your hand while you pet them with the other. 

For dogs who resist having their paws held all together, try taking things slow. Start with the usual belly rub, scratch behind the ears and lead to slowly touching their paw. Touch one toe at a time, eventually and gently lifting their paw in your hand. Reward them with affection after they allow you to hold their paw in your hand. Incorporate the clippers into the experience by holding them in one hand while you hold their paw in the other.


By giving your pup a workout, like going for a long walk or playing at the dog park, you have a better chance of catching them while they’re relaxed and less excitable, presenting the perfect opportunity to begin trimming.


Be sure to have the following on-hand before you trim your puppy’s nails:

  • Scissors
  • Towel
  • Emery Board
  • Quality Clippers
  • Styptic Powder or Sticks (helps to quickly stop bleeding from minor cuts in the event you over-clip)


Begin by slowly picking up your pup’s foot and, since you’re here, check them over for signs of injury or debris. Use a towel to wipe away any dirt.


Once you’ve confirmed there are no injuries, begin by trimming the fur around your puppy’s feet and toes, if needed. This helps to prevent discomfort and injury by making it easier to see what you’re doing when trimming their nails!

Before using clippers you can assess how long your puppy’s nails have grown as you may only need to file their nails down. If your puppy won’t sit still and you are nervous to try clippers try to shorten their nails using a file instead. This will help you avoid any possible injuries. You should on file down the same amount you would want to clip off.


Start by gently holding your pet’s paw in one hand and the clippers in the other. Carefully clip one toenail at a time and at a 45° angle, avoiding a vein found in each nail called a ‘quick.’ Once you’ve successfully clipped the first nail, reward your pup with a treat, like a TLC Whole Life Dog Biscuit, broken into pieces. If your puppy seems nervous, provide them comfort and wait until they settle, gently picking up the same paw, preparing to clip the next nail. Continue this until you’ve cut all four nails on each paw. Take your time and maintain a calm and controlled attitude; if you feel yourself stressing out, pause what you’re doing and wait until things settle. If you cannot get them to settle, don’t push it. Try introducing the clippers slowly, over time, and wait for a moment when they’re alert and calm to make another attempt. Outgrown nails can cause discomfort and could even lead to an abscess, so take a deep breath and do what you can to keep them trimmed (even if you can only take care of one paw at a time)!