It’s important that your dog’s nails are kept at an appropriate length; if they’re too long it can affect the way that they walk, putting pressure on the wrong parts of the foot. The resulting pain can force them to alter the way they move, making them increasingly susceptible to injuries in other joints. Long nails are also significantly more prone to splitting and breaking. Breakages can be very painful and often require veterinary treatment which can increase stress around paw handling and nail maintenance. Traction on hard floors is reduced when nails are too long, resulting in slipping that can cause soft tissue and/or orthopedic injuries or exacerbate existing physical issues such as arthritis.
It is typical for dogs to naturally dislike their paws being handled, even without prior negative experience, making foot care a stressful and difficult experience for you, and for them. A process of systematic counter-conditioning can be used to increase their comfort with paw handling and, eventually, nail maintenance.
When paw handling is particularly aversive to dogs and nail care is becoming a significant challenge, training them to use a scratch board can be an effective solution, either longer term or whilst counter-conditioning work is in progress.
A scratch board enables your dog to file down their nails themselves with no handling required. Using a scratch board, less nail will be removed each time than if they were being trimmed, however, doing this little and often can really help maintain an appropriate nail length.