My Ridgeback hates having his nails cut. What should I do?

This breed can be positively phobic about having its nails touched, particular on the front feet and particularly if you are exerting concentrated pressure, as with a clipper.

Instead, try a Dremel—those hand-held tools sold at Home Depot and other home-improvements stores. (Don’t bother with the battery Dremel, it doesn’t have enough juice. Go with the plug-in and use the cylindrical sanding attachment.) Many Ridgebacks respond positively to this method of nail maintenance if properly introduced.

Start with your Dremel plugged in, and a pile of cubed cheese at your side. Without turning it on, tap the Dremel gently against your dog’s nail. Treat generously and repeat many times. Once your dog is more interested in the cheese than the Dremel, simply turn the Dremel on, but do not apply to the nails yet! Your Ridgeback will likely be alarmed by the sound. Turn the Dremel on in short bursts, giving treats generously after each one, until your dog is more interested in the cheese than the sound of the Dremel.

Now begin alternating these two pieces: tap with the Dremel, turn the Dremel on for two seconds, tap, Dremel sound, tap, Dremel sound. When the dog is familiar and accustomed to both, then and only then put them together. Don’t worry about accomplishing anything with the first “live” Dremeling—just tap the toe, praise lavishly, and administered cheese.

Generously rewarding as you go, slowly progress to more nails and more time on each nail. Do not stint on the positive food reinforcement: With enough Gouda, all things are possible. Click here for a popular Dremeling tutorial by a Doberman fancier.