I found this article from AKC that is very helpful so I wanted to share.
Here are the steps to follow to properly trim your dog’s nails:
Pick up a paw and firmly, but gently, place your thumb on the pad of a toe and your forefinger on the top of the toe on the skin above the nail. Make sure none of your dog’s fur is in the way.
Push your thumb slightly up and backward on the pad, while pushing your forefinger forward. This extends the nail.
Clip only the tip of the nail, straight across. Include the dewclaws, located on the inner side of the paw.
Avoid clipping past the curve of the nail or you risk hitting what is called the quick (the pink area of the nail that contains the blood vessels). A nick there is painful and will bleed. For dogs with dark nails, watch for a chalky white ring.
Anne, that's a good, clear overview of the process.
However, they left out the parts that we've had trouble with. Holding down an 80 lb Great Dane puppy that doesn't want her nails done. My husband finally had to lay down on the dog to keep her from moving all her legs and head and butt all at the same time. Sort of like a doggy tantrum crossed with an explosion. It was her try at being the alpha beotch and it didn't work. We were all exhausted after 30 minutes of this but by God we did it!
One thing we learned that was very important. When you grip the dogs paw, don't let go if they pull back. Just go with it, then pull the paw back towards you. If they ever discover that they can pull their paw out of your hand you end up in a tussle every time.
I have always cut our dogs nails, I dont think any of them have ever been brought to the vet or groomers to get it done!
Here's what I have learned....
Definitely buy styptic powder. It lasts forever, isnt that expensive, and is great for piece of mind as quicked nails bleed like crazy!
As the former owner of a 175 lb St. Bernard, the trick is to make them enjoy it. We used to do one nail - snip!- one treat shoved in mouth. The first time, you can just do one nail per foot. Eventually, you can relax to one treat per two nails, then one treat per foot, then a treat at the end. I can do my standard poodles nails as she snoozes lying on her side, with no treats now. I do still give her a treat every few sessions.
The other trick is... use the right sized clippers. Two big, and they are easy to over cut, too small, and they crush rather than cut. We used to use small side cutters for one dog.
I like to do a few angles cuts around the quick, rather than one straight across. It helps the quick move back faster and is less rough, and looks better.
With dogs who are struggling - you can pick up a different paw, and they forget to tug the one you are cutting. Or I like to give a brisk shake of the paw, which often settles it down.
Also - a dog can get hurt just from cutting close to the quick, no blood, which is why a lot of dogs hate it I think. You know that sensation when you cut your nails too short?
With black nails, you can inspect and see a black centre thing after you make a cut. If you see that, STOP, do not cut further. Eventually you get so you can tell just by the shape of the nail where to cut.
If the dogs nails are very long, it's better to shave just a bit every 3 days, instead of trying to cut a lot and making it uncomfortable.
The diagram about the length of the quick is very helpful. I was wondering why my dog had such long quicks, and the vet mentioned that they were long, but didn't tell me why, and I do his nails myself but I'm scared to do it because he bleeds easily. I'll have to be more diligent to get the blood supply to shrink. Thank you for these tips!
Saw this tip a few days ago.
Location: Ontario - Gardening in zone 3b, 4b, or 6b, depending on the day
Norma- one thing I have been considering for my moms dog, whose nails are quite long and therefore easy to quick, is training to use a scratch board. Basically it's a piece of sandpaper on an angled board that you train the dog to scratch at, thus shortening their own nails. You have to be careful as some will scratch until the nails or paws bleed, and its any harder to teach them to scratch the back nails, but maybe something like that would help?