How to Restrain a Large Dog For Nail Clipping

Clipping a dog’s nails can turn into a scratching match if you don’t restrain the canine properly. Worse, you may hit the quick and injure your pet. To prevent that from happening, I’ll share with you how to restrain a large dog for nail clipping without hurting the Fido. You simply put your dog on its side the use your left to restrain the neck and the other one to restrain the bottom legs. I’ve done this to my Golden Retriever Sherlock, and has worked perfectly ever since.

For better understanding, I discussed the steps below.

how to restrain a large dog for nail clipping

How to restrain a dog to cut nails

It’s not easy to clip a dog’s nails, much so if you have a rambunctious and large canine. This is why proper restraining is necessary so you wouldn’t injure your dog. It’s also for your own safety as dog scratches will hurt. Below are two methods that I recommend:

How to restrain a dog to cut nails

Method 1: The Lateral Method

  • Calm your dog first. There’s no way you can cut the nails of a nervous and aggressive canine. Below, I discussed some calming tips that work well for nail clipping. read more here 6 Quiet Dog Clippers Review
  • Put the dog on its side while lying down on the floor. The dog’s back should be facing you with the legs sticking outward.
  • Next, place your arm on the dog’s neck as a way to pin it down. NEVER apply too much pressure on your dog’s neck. Keep the control in your arms, or else, you’re going to choke your dog. Your arm is supposed to be a barrier with as little pressure as possible.
  • Do the same on your dog’s rear legs. Place your arm right next to its pelvis and use it to restrain the pooch. AGAIN, don’t apply too much pressure.
  • If your dog is choking, gasping, or struggling to be let go, stop because you’re probably doing it wrong.
  • After that, grab the paw that you want to work on first.
  • Keep your arms in place while your hands work in clipping the nails.
  • You can also ask someone else to cut the nails of your dog while you’re restraining it.

Method 2: The Arm Wrap

dog arm wrap

  • For this method, your dog is standing up and preferably leashed for better control.
  • When cutting the rear paw nails, you simply wrap your arms around your dog’s hips. Your armpit should be resting on top of the dog’s body, and you must be facing the dog’s rear.
  • Apply a little pressure on the dog’s body so it won’t walk backwards and escape your hold.
  • Next, grab one of your dog’s legs, fold it backward until the paw pad is facing you, and you’re ready to trim.
  • For the front legs, you wrap your arms near your dog’s neck. You should only apply mild pressure to prevent hurting your dog.
  • With your hands below the dog’s chest, reach out for one leg then bend it until the paw pad faces you. Never twist the leg, just bend it backward, the way the joint of your dog’s leg would typically move.
  • Remember, though, that this method only works for well-behaved dogs. If you have a squirmy pooch, I suggest trying the first method of restraining instead.

Additional reminders when restraining a dog

how to restrain a dog for nail clipping

One thing you should know is that all dogs bite. No matter how friendly your pooch is, it will bite if it gets hurt, stressed, scared, or uncomfortable. It’s important to get your dog used to the sensation of being restrained before you perform the actual nail clipping. please read here how to train a dog not to bite.

Even if you’re not clipping your dog’s nails, hold them in the restrained position from time to time. If the dog behaved, give it a treat. This way, your dog will grow calm when their nails are being clipped. Please read here: Dog Nails Sharp After Clipping

Never hesitate to ask for help if your large dog is too much to handle. Two sets of hands will get the clipping task done faster and safer. please read how to treat clipper burn on dog

Moreover, never use too much force or violence when restraining your dog. This will only push your dog to struggle to be let go. Be gentle and always have control of the situation.

How to cut an uncooperative dog’s nails

how to cut an uncooperative dogs nails

While many dog owners dread nail clipping, it’s actually simpler than it appears. Once you have your dog restrained, you should do the following:

  • Get the right clipper. Some use a dremel or one with a rotating sanding tip. This is less painful for your dog, and it will polish the tips of the nails. Meanwhile, others prefer classic cutters for faster clipping. Both work well, and the choice is yours to make.
  • Stop from time to time. Dogs don’t tolerate prolonged restraint. I suggest letting go of your dog after finishing a paw. Reward the pooch and then work on the next leg. If you’re using a dremel, lift the trimmer every minute to prevent heat buildup.
  • Be careful with the quick. The ‘quick’ is a group of blood vessels attached to the nail. If you accidentally cut this, it will cause profuse bleeding. To avoid it, you should never cut your dog’s nails too short because the quick is located just where the nail connects to the skin. Remember that it’s harder to spot the quick on dogs with black nails. 
  • please read here quiet dremel for dog nails 

Can I sedate my dog to cut its nails?

If restraining your dog isn’t possible, you can ask the vet for a sedative. This will calm your dog, so you can work on clipping its nails properly. It’s an excellent alternative to aggressive canines and those that don’t thrive on any restraining methods.

Can I sedate my dog to cut its nails

Take note that you should never sedate your dog without consulting the vet. This is the case, especially if your pooch has a lingering health problem. The sedative might induce adverse symptoms.

The most common sedatives used for this purpose are diazepam, acepromazine, and dexmedetomidine. All of these must be prescribed properly by your dog’s vet.


How to calm a dog for nail clipping

If drug sedation isn’t possible, there are other calming ways you can do to restrain your dog for clipping the nails. The following are the safest options:

How to calm a dog for nail clipping

  • Classic walks. Drain your dog’s extra energy before clipping its nails. This will reduce your pet’s squirmy behavior while you’re working on its paws. Mentally stimulating games will also work.
  • Calming treats. You can purchase dog treats infused with calming ingredients. This will help your dog tone down so you can restrain them and clip their nails. The treats will also serve as a reward for behaving during the grooming sessions.
  • Get your dog familiar with the clipper. Dogs get scared of things they are unfamiliar with. So before you start the grooming session, let your dog sniff and lick the clipper. If you’re using an electronic type, turn it on and let your dog get used to the sound. You should give treats while doing this so your dog will associate nail clipping into something positive.
  • Start early. If your pet is still a pup, get it used to the feeling of being restrained. It will save you from the hassle of restraining an uncooperative dog later on.
  • Give a massage. This works for my dog Sherlock, especially after a long walk. After the massage, he’s all chill and won’t mind me clipping his nails. Start by petting your dog then applying mild pressure while pinching the body a bit.
  • Play some music. Some dogs tend to be calmer when they hear soft music. Do this and pair it with other calming tips I recommend here for the best results.


Grooming a dog’s claws is challenging, but not if you know how to restrain a large dog for nail clipping. Make sure that you’re not hurting your dog or cutting too close to its skin. Also, you should clip your dog’s nails regularly to make it used to the sensation. If you need, ask somebody to help you so you won’t hit the quick.

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