How Can I Stop My Dog from Struggling? I Need to Cut His Nails

Can dogs remember abuse?

It’s a touching article from Wag! It discusses the effects of physical and emotional abuse on dogs. It’s easier to identify a dog that’s been physically abused due to scars and wounds on their bodies. But those dogs who have been emotionally abused are harder to tell since they can’t talk, but their behavior is clearly maladaptive.

Photo: YouTube/Cesar Millan

Moreover, according to Wag!, “Studies have demonstrated that the effects of emotional abuse are more enduring than physical abuse. The universal response to abuse is one of mistrust, social withdrawal, physical inactivity, and depression . . . These behavior problems include aggression and fear directed toward unfamiliar humans and dogs, attention-seeking behaviour, hyperactivity, persistent barking, and stereotypic behaviours.”

But the writer has also expressed that an abused dog’s behavior can be lovingly corrected, challenging though it may be. “With patience and training, there is hope you can overcome these problems, but it will take time, and you will need help from a trainer.”

Maladaptive behavior is the problem of this dog owner named Dawn with her pet. In desperation, she reached out to PetHelpful’s Ask-A-Vet section for expert advice.

Photo: YouTube/Cesar Millan

Dawn wrote, “My dog was mistreated as a puppy, and she has been aggressive towards people and other animals (dogs mainly) ever since. We have adjusted our life to keep her, but our vet wants nothing to do with her. We have paid almost $5K for training but finally stopped, as it was not helping. We have to trim her nails ourselves, and she will bite us if we try. What can we do? Is there something OTC we can give her to mellow her out enough to get her nails done? Please help!”

Dr. Mark dos Anjos made the following recommendations concerning over-the-counter options:

  • Calming Treats. Choose calming treats with passionflower. According to The Pet Gourmet, “most commonly used for relieving anxiety, passionflower can work wonders for your dog. It raises levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid in the brain. This will lower certain brain cell activity, putting the body in a calm and relaxed state. Passionflower also keeps levels of serotonin and dopamine high in the body. High levels of these neurotransmitters can increase your dog’s mood and improve their temperament.” This may help to calm your dog so you can trim its nails in bliss.
  • Photo: YouTube/Cesar Millan
  • Calming Collar. You can use this all the time, and not just when you need to trim your dog’s nails. This type of collar contains dog-relaxing pheromones that are similar to the nursing pheromones of a dog momma.
  • Hormone Diffuser. This is similar to a calming collar, likewise infused with the hormones from a nursing dog. Only dogs can smell these hormones, and they help them to relax. But you can’t expect a sedative effect from this device.
  • Melatonin. “Melatonin, a naturally occurring neurohormone, has long been thought to work as a sleeping aid in humans. Now there’s some evidence it may be useful for several canine conditions. Its sedative properties have been helpful in treating separation anxiety in dogs, as well as stress from noise like fireworks, thunderstorms or other noise phobias,” according to the American Kennel Club. But Dr. dos Anjos has cautioned that only melatonin for dogs should be used for canines. Melatonin for humans may contain artificial sweeteners such as xylitol, a toxic substance for dogs.
  • Photo: YouTube/Cesar Millan
  • CBD Oil. There are stories that this type of oil has a calming effect on dogs, but there are no scientific studies to back it up. Also, it’s been reported to be of greater toxicity to dogs than people. In some territories, CBD oil is prohibited. People should be very careful if they choose this as an option.
  • Training and Consultation With an Animal Behaviorist. Since training has already failed in the past, working out the problem with a dog behaviorist is the best way to deal with the maladaptive behaviors of Dawn’s dog. Dr. dos Anjos related that “81% of people found that consulting a behaviorist was helpful and helped them solve their dog’s problem.”
  • Groomers Are Used to Working With Aggressive Dogs. Dawn can also take her dog to the groomers, who are already familiar with aggressive dogs and those who don’t like their nails trimmed. They may put a muzzle on an aggressive canine or get it sedated in coordination with a vet clinic. Dawn can ask her vet for a reputable grooming salon where her dog can get its nails trimmed without further headache and worry.

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