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Trimming Toes

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[With bracketed notes from Karen]

Lucille [Lynn's much adored rescued dog] is hypervigilent about her toe nails and hates having them touched. I had clicker trained her to tolerate having them clipped, some years ago, but it was done by the groomer, and Terry, who used to take her to the groomer, is no longer here. I cannot press hard enough with the nail clippers to cut her nails, so the toenail quandary arose again.

My friend Gretchen suggested a grinder which does not require much pressure. So, I ordered one and panicked briefly yesterday when I opened the box to find 2 elaborate manuals (78 pages per...) and zillions of little parts. The hardest thing was recovering from that.

I got a sanding thing installed in the tool and charged the battery. Then called Lucille over, clicked and treated her for letting me put it near her feet, first turned off, then with the motor on. Then for letting it touch her toenails while off and the grand finale, a brief touch with it running. The hardest thing is I need an extra hand, one to hold the grinder, another to hold the toe, a third to click.... For her back legs, which are less sensitive, I can get the timing right by holding the toe and the clicker in one hand. For the front legs where she's anxious, the timing needs to be precise and I need both hands elsewhere. Today, second session (just a couple minutes each) I was able to grind all of her back toenails and dispense with the clicker after the first couple of touches. I have to take much smaller steps with the front feet so really need an extra pair of hands. I'm going to bring her to S.H.I.P. [a children's therapy group Dr. Loar runs] on Sunday and let them click and treat while I apply the grinder. They'll get to see a practical application of clicker training and I'll get my extra pair of hands. Also, we should have this on tape.

Keep in mind my really minimal experience with the clicker, and with animal training. That Lucille went from resistant to complete coping with her back nails being sanded in 2 sessions of a couple minutes each speaks to the efficacy of the approach even in the hands of a neophyte shaper. Sunday, we'll add more neophytes and tackle those delicate front toes.

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