The Importance of Clipping Dogs’ Nails

Let’s get this out of the way first: Nobody, it seems, likes to “do” dog nails. Not you, not the dog, nor anyone else who may be called upon to take on nail-clipping for you (such as a technician at your local veterinary hospital or even a professional groomer). But for the health of your dog, it must be done, and should be done frequently enough to keep your dog’s nails short.

This isn’t an article about how to make nail cutting a more pleasant experience for you and your dog; this magazine has run plenty of those. Don’t be tempted to skip that step: You should read up on positive reinforcement and desensitization techniques before you even think about snipping; of course your dog should be comfortable with having his feet touched and manipulated before you attempt any type of nail trimming. If he is not – and especially if he shows signs of serious distress or aggression – consult a qualified dog behavior specialist to help you modify this behavior. Better safe than sorry.

No, this article is what you’ll need to know before you have appropriately and positively introduced your dog to the nail-cutting experience. I hope to convince you to commit to a regular nail-maintenance program for your dog.

trimming dog nails

Why Dogs Need Their Nails Trimmed

When dogs spend a good deal of time outdoors, running on various hard surfaces, including concrete and blacktop, their nails are gradually worn down, and they have less of a need for formal nail-grooming sessions. But today, with many suburban and urban dogs increasingly confined indoors when their owners are at work, and running mostly on soft surfaces such as lawns when they are outdoors, this welcome friction is often absent in their daily lives.

Long, unkempt nails not only look unattractive, but over time they can do serious damage to your dog (not to mention your floors). When nails are so long that they constantly touch the ground, they exert force back into the nail bed, creating pain for the dog (imagine wearing a too-tight shoe) and pressure on the toe joint. Long term, this can actually realign the joints of the foreleg and make the foot looked flattened and splayed.

Again, this isn’t just an aesthetic problem, it’s a functional one: Compromising your dog’s weight distribution and natural alignment can leave her more susceptible to injuries, and make walking and running difficult and painful. This is especially important in older dogs, whose posture can be dramatically improved by cutting back neglected nails.

In extreme cases, overgrown nails can curve and grow into the pad of the foot. But even if they are not that out of control, long nails can get torn or split, which is very painful and, depending on severity, may need to be treated by a veterinarian.

And in the end, unattended nails create a vicious cycle: Because the extra-long nails make any contact with his paws painful for the dog, he avoids having them touched, which leads to unpleasant nail-cutting sessions, which makes both human and dog avoid them, which leads to longer intervals between trims, which leads to more pain …

The Basics of Clipping Dog Nails

So what’s the goal? What’s the “right” length? While some breeds (most notably the Doberman Pinscher) are often shown with nails so short they can barely be seen, the most commonly accepted rule of thumb is that when a dog is standing, the nails should not make contact with the ground. If you can hear your dog coming, her nails are too long.

The nails of mammals are made of a tough protein called keratin. Technically, dogs have claws, not nails, though we’ll use the latter term in its colloquial sense for this article. (The distinction is that nails are flat and do not come to a point. And if your nail is thick enough and can bear weight, it’s called a hoof.)

Dog’s nails differ from ours in that they consist of two layers. Like us, they have the unguis, a hard, outer covering in which the keratin fibers run perpendicular to the direction in which the nail grows. But unlike us, under their unguis, dogs have the subunguis, which is softer and flaky, with a grain that is parallel to the direction of growth. The faster growth of the unguis is what gives the dog’s nail its characteristic curl.

In addition to one nail at the end of each of the four toes usually found on each foot, many dogs also have a fifth nail, called a dewclaw, on the inside of the leg, below the wrist. Some dogs are born with dewclaws in the front only; others are born with dewclaws on every leg. There’s a great deal of debate about whether these should be surgically removed; some breeders do this a few days after birth because they believe that the dewclaws are vestigial, and are likely to rip or tear if they are not removed. (Many shelters also do this surgery on dogs at the same time they do spay/neuter surgery.)

Proponents of dewclaws argue that dewclaws are not vestigial, but indeed used to grip objects such as bones, and to provide important traction when a galloping dog needs to change direction. (Poke around Youtube and you can find videos of Sighthound lure coursing; they actually lay their entire forearms perpendicular to the ground when redirecting their momentum.) Even the floppy double-dewclaws of breeds like the Great Pyrenees are said to have some purpose (traction or a “snowshoe” effect in the snow).

One thing is certain: If a dog has dewclaws, they need to be trimmed – perhaps even more often than nails that routinely touch the ground. Because the dewclaws rarely touch the ground and so aren’t worn down, they tend to be pointier than the other nails. But perhaps because dewclaws are so loosely attached to the forelimb, many dogs object to trimming them much less.

The Canine Toenail Quick

There’s a reason why the phrase “cut to the quick” means to deeply wound or distress: Running through the nail is a nerve and vein called the “quick.” Nicking or cutting this sensitive band of tissue is very painful for the dog – and messy for the owner, as blood often continues oozing from the cut nail for what seems like an eternity. (Keeping a stypic-powder product, such as Kwik-Stop, on hand can help promote clotting and shorten the misery. Or, in a pinch, try flour.)

Shortening the nail without “quicking” the dog is easier said than done – unless your dog has white or light-colored nails, in which case, you’re in luck: The quick will be visible from the side, as a sort of pink-colored shadow within the nail. Avoid going near it. If you trim the nail with a clipper or scissors, trim a bit off the end of the nail, and notice the color at the end of the nail (in cross section). As soon as the center of the nail starts to appear pink, stop.

You can’t see the quick in a black or dark-colored nail. With these nails, you have to be even more conservative about how much nail you trim off. After making each cut, look at the cross-section of the nail. If you see a black spot in the center – sort of like the center of a marrow bone – stop cutting. It’s likely your next slice will hit the quick.

The longer a dog’s nails are allowed to grow, the longer the quick will become, to the point that taking even a very small bit of nail off the end “quicks” the dog. Then the goal becomes a matter of snipping or grinding the nails to get as close as possible to the quick, without actually cutting it. This is perhaps easiest to accomplish with a grinding tool (such as a Dremel), though it can be done with clippers, too, with practice. By grinding away the nail all around the quick – above it, below it, and on both sides – the quick has no support or protection, and within days it will begin to visibly recede, drawing back toward the toe.

If a dog’s feet have been neglected for months (or, horrors, years) at a time, it might take months to shorten those nails to a healthy, pain-free length. But if you keep at this regularly, it should get easier for the dog to exercise. And the more he moves, the more his nails will come into contact with the ground in a way that will help wear the nails down and help the quicks to recede.

Helpful Trimming Tools

Nail clippers use blades to remove the tip of the nail. There are a couple of different styles to choose from, but no matter what type is used, their effectiveness is dependent on the blades being sharp and clean.

Guillotine trimmers have a hole at the end, through which the dog’s nail is inserted; then, as the handles of the tool are squeezed together, an internal blade lops off the end of the nail in a fashion reminiscent of the execution device for which the trimmer is named.

Some people find it easier to chop through thick nails with these clippers, but others find it difficult to thread each nail through the hole at precisely the right distance from the end of the nail, especially when the dog is wiggling or uncooperative. On the plus side, though, it’s fast and easy to replace the blade in guillotine-style clippers – in fact, most guillotine clippers are sold with replacement blades, which encourages an owner to swap out the blade as soon as the tool loses any effectiveness.

Scissor- and plier-style trimmers are arguably easier to use, but need to be sharpened from time to time – and who knows how to do this, or where this service can be obtained these days? Many people find themselves discarding and replacing these tools as needed, instead.

trimming dog nails

Grinders are relatively new to the world of canine manicures. So many owners discovered how easy it was to use that old hardware standby, the Dremel tool, that you’ll sometimes hear that brand name used as a verb, as in “I Dremel my dog’s nails.” Soon enough, pet-specific rotary grinders found their way to market – and now Dremel makes a pet-specific grinder, too.

Regardless of the type of grinder you buy, make sure it is appropriate for your dog. Some cordless models might be perfectly adequate for a Papillon, but simply may not have enough oomph for trimming the thick, hard nails of a larger breed like a German Shepherd.

Though Dremels and other grinders come with several different attachments, most owners opt for the sandpaper barrel. Change the sandpaper sleeve whenever you see it’s becoming worn.

Be sure to acclimate your dog to the sound of the grinder, and then slowly introduce the tool, so that your dog is accustomed to the grinding sensation on his nails. Don’t keep the rotary tool stationery on one area of the nail, as the heat it generates can be painful for the dog.

Be aware of dangling hair – both yours and your dog’s – and take care not to have it get entwined in the tool’s spinning drum. To protect your eyes, wear safety glasses. And because nail grinders can generate a good deal of nail dust, a disposable surgical face mask is a sensible idea as well.

Nail Maintenence Routines are Crucial

If this sounds like a lot of work, it is – at least initially, until you and your dog develop a nail-maintenance routine. And “maintenance” really is the name of the game; it’s far easier for you (and less painful for your dog) to maintain his short nails than to shorten nails that have gotten long, with the inevitable corresponding long quicks.

If your dog’s nails have gotten too long, or you adopted a dog whose nails were too long, you need to really commit to frequent trimming to restore his foot health and comfort. Three to four days is probably the minimum amount of time that’s advisable between salon treatments that are intended to encourage the quicks to recede. Once a week is ideal if you want to gradually shorten your dog’s nails and eliminate all that clickety-clacking on your wood floors. And, depending on the rate at which your dog’s nails grow (and what sort of surface he exercises on) once or twice a month is a reasonable goal to maintain the nails at a healthy length.

No matter what frequency you choose, make a commitment. Earmark a specific day of the week or month for your grooming sessions, and stick with it. You’ll have a better chance of remembering to do your dog’s nails on a regular basis if you get into a routine.

It may also be helpful to dedicate a location in your home for doing your dog’s nails – somewhere comfortable for you and your dog and with a good light source. Make sure you have everything you need at hand before you begin: clippers, styptic powder and some tissue or a small clean towel or washcloth (in case you accidentally quick the dog), eyeglasses for you (if you need them to see well up close), and lots of small, high-value treats to keep the experience rewarding for your dog.

It’s also smart to have a leash on your dog, even if he’s usually fine with having his nails clipped; many dogs will attempt to leave abruptly if they are “quicked.” And who could blame them? If you do  make a mistake, don’t make a huge fuss. Feed your dog some treats, and proceed with more conservative clips.

A regular contributor to WDJ, Denise Flaim raises Rhodesian Ridgebacks in Long Island, New York.

The post The Importance of Clipping Dogs’ Nails appeared first on Whole Dog Journal.

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10 DIY tips for sculpting custom character parts with ModiBot

ModiBot has become a critical starting point for many people's creative projects, including stopmotion animation, scene photography, custom action figures, and both digital and hands-on character design.

More and more, creators want to design and sculpt their own ModiBot-compatible parts. This is the best place to start.

 

1. Match the correct ModiBot kit to your sculpting material

Not all ModiBots work with certain materials. Once you have determined what material you'd like to sculpt with, it's best to choose the ModiBot kit that supports sculpting that those materials. **Its possible that there is no ModiBot kit to support the material you are most familiar with.

CAUTION: Avoid using oil or plastic-based clays with the classic MO kit because these will make the plastic (especially the joints) brittle and prone to breakage.

ModiBot Mo, the original ModiBot kit, is made of PETG plastic like water and soda bottles. Its a tough durable plastic, but it doesn't react well to the chemicals or solvents in some sculpting materials.

Original Mo kit works best with- 2-part epoxy, Masking or washi tape, 3Doodler or other handheld 3d filament extruders.

ModiBot Mo+ (plus) kit is made of durable polypropylene plastic and is more durable when used with some paints and solvents. This toughness, especially when heated, allows Mo+ kits to be used with polyclay and a wider variety of materials.

Mo+ works best with- Polyclay compounds (like Fimo or Sculpey), 2-part epoxy, masking or washi tape, 3Doodler

      2. Assemble and test all your joints before starting

      Ball joints create a lot of pressure on their first assembly. Make sure you assemble the figure and test the movement of all the joints prior to sculpting. This will prevent you from starting a sculpt on a part that is already broken or weak.

      BONUS TIP: If a part cracks or breaks during assembly, no worries, we will replace them. Contact us at mo@modibot.com with a picture of your broken part (so we know exactly which part and color you need) and your shipping address. We'll get a replacement out in the mail to you asap!

         3. Try a test part to get a feel for your materials and process

        ModiBot Mo and Mo+ kits both come with extra ball and socket parts so you can try your hand before committing to a single body part. This is especially smart for working on epoxy and polyclay projects due to the amount of time you will commit to the project. T

        BONUS TIP: These extra ball and socket parts can also be used to create your own designs for heads, hands, feet or even large elements like extra arms or wings!

        4. Consider the size and weight of your pieces

        ModiBot joints are strong and durable when assembled, but they have a limit to their ability. Creating excessively long or heavy parts can reduce the effectiveness of each joint. A general rule of thumb is- the longer the part, the more you should reduce its weight.

        If your are considering large, dynamic parts like long arms or wings, do some testing with materials to make the part weight more manageable. Aluminum foil or wire can be a simple way to create structure or mass without creating a lot of weight.

        BONUS TIP: Large hands/feet or hand-held accessories can put the most stress on your ModiBot joints. Consider fabricating large accessories with balsa wood or styrene 

        5. Work each sculpted part as a separate element

        Most sculpting is worked as a single integral piece. If you are wanting to maintain the movement of the joints, it's best to work each part as a singular element. This approach makes it a bit tougher to see how the entire sculpt will look, but it will prevent you from destroying a bunch of work as you try to unsnap connected parts.

        6. Work in layers

        Developing a process is important, and one of the most important ways to manage the work is to take small steps, this will allow you to make improvements and modifications as you go vs. trying to get each part right on the first try.

        Working slowly allows you to work the entire design more as a whole than by finishing each part and then moving on to the next.

        BONUS TIP: One additional benefit of working in layers is that you can start with a rough sculpt of each part to get a feel for the proportion of the piece. Roughing out your design in bunched up aluminum foil can help you get a feel for each part's size and proportion.

        7. Allow clearance for sockets to flex

        Its best to leave room around the sockets so they can flex as you assemble the joints. When you bury the sockets in dense material it can prevent you from assembling all your work. Its best to leave at least 1-3 mm of socket material showing surrounding each joint.

        BONUS TIP: Be careful of making your sculpt too thin surrounding your sockets. Some materials may not be as flexible as the socket material, causing thin layers of material to crack and flake-off during part assembly.

        8. Do Not bake parts while assembled

         If you are using polyclay and heating your parts, the most important thing to remember is- DO NOT BAKE YOUR PARTS WHILE THEY ARE ASSEMBLED. This WILL stretch your joints and prevent them from maintaining a tight grip. No one wants floppy joints (unless you are trying to make a marionette that is. ;)

        BONUS TIP: If you are sculpting figures WITHOUT joints, ModiBot Mo+ works great as a full-figure sculpting armature. This approach allows you to define a great pose using the Mo figure and then burying Mo inside of a full-body sculpt. If you choose to work this way, it can be best to define your pose and then use some glue to 'lock' the joints in place before adding your sculpting medium.

        9. Always bake parts at the recommended temperature

        The ModiBot Mo+ kit has been tested to around 280 degrees F. When sculpting in polyclay, follow the recommended baking instructions for your material type. Using a heat gun or baking the parts at higher temperatures could damage the look and/or function of the parts. For best results, avoid over-heating the parts. 

        WARNING!: Use extreme caution when using an oven. Handling hot parts can cause burns. Use tongs or an oven mitt when handling hot parts.

        10. Whooops! Salvaging a part

        Accidents happen. Parts may get dropped and crack, joints may get over-stretched or we may just find out that the part we made is too heavy to allow the joints to remain posable. When those accidents happen, you should try to save the work you have done.

        It's possible to cut a ModiBot part out of the original sculpt by carefully using plastic snips. Cutting off one end of the part (socket or ball) can allow you too free the sculpted piece from the ModiBot armature. In some cases you may be able to cut the part in half using a small modeling or coping saw. Its best to use a vise and hand protection when separating a sculpt from its armature.

        Once you have freed the sculpted portion you can make modifications and reattach to another ModiBot part.

        Thanks for tuning-in. Watch this space for more creative project tips and best of luck on your next project!

        New 3d printable, ModiBot 'Character Creator' parts released at Tinkercad.com

        Just in time for the New Year, ModiBot has released a variety of new 3D printable action accessories, storytelling props and rigging fixtures for stopmotion animation.

        Each image has a 3d viewer that will allow you to orbit around the items and zoom in to see the details. Just click the title to 'Copy and Tinker' them or just download the 3d print files from our profile at Tinkercad.com or stop by and check out our Thingiverse designs for even more printable ModiBot files.

        Martial Arsenal- A slew of Japanese, printable weapons for your next training video or streetfight, including new wrapped staff accessory.

         

        Arm/Leg sleeve set- Add some bulk to your 'bots, or just a bit of color with these snap-on arm and leg covers.

         

        Tutu- Yes, a tutu! How many weapons and male-themed accessories have we made? It's time we started to introduce some accessories for animating a wider variety of diverse and spectacular feats of human physicality.

         

        Buccaneer theme accessory set- Shiver me timbers! Need some pirate-themed props and costuming for your Mo. Here's a bit to get you started.

         

        Screw-mount base for stopmotion- Now you can print your own secure surface mount for creating an external animation rig. It has a ball attachment for using extra arm and leg parts for capturing action cycles and acrobatics.

         

        Umbrella kit- Last, but not least, we've had a surprising amount of requests for an umbrella. Maybe we'll get to some amazing 'Singin' in the Rain' shorts? Who knows?

        Vote to help decide the future of ModiBot!

        ModiBot is in full evolution mode! Click the link below for a quick survey to help decide the types of ideas we'll pursue in the future.

        Its important that we get as much feedback as possible, so once you have completed the survey, please share with any friends who you think may be interested.

        Click to VOTE NOW!

        How to make your own DIY ModiBot hero

        The fun part about ModiBot is that it can be anything you want it to be. With just a few pieces of colored cloth you can outfit your 'Bot and send him off on any number of adventures.

        This kit was designed to enable character creation across a variety of known pop-culture characters, traditional hero archetypes, or to use as a jumping-off point for designing your own hero.

        Its quick to make with some materials you might have around the house and really easy to modify to add your own personal touches. It can also be used as a fun design exercise for groups of kids (or kids at heart) for school or birthday parties. We also have premade kits in variety of colors available in our shop.

        Let's get started.

        Heres a quick list of materials-
        • Scissors (or rotary cutter)
        • one 9x12 in. sheet of felt
        • one 4 in. zip tie
        • one paper lollipop stick

           

          Step 1: Ideate and plan your design-

          Depending on the color of your bot, you might go in a variety of directions, but, as an example, let's say you have a bright green ModiBot you want to outfit.

          There are a lot of known characters that are green and could be easy to design with this kit, like Peter Pan or Robin Hood.

          There are also character archetypes that could be fun to build by starting with green, like an elven sorcerer or jungle-camoflaged ninja.

          Think for a few seconds and let your mind wander as you think of ideas. You might even do a quick drawing of your design using our downloadable  Character Design Template.

          Step 2: Cut your felt pieces-

          Depending on whether you are going to match the existing pattern or make a design of your own, you can start by creating the strips that will be used for the tunic and sash.

          How to make your own DIY ModiBot hero

          Cut a 1/2 inch strip down the long side of the 9x12 inch felt sheet. This will give you a strip 1/2 inch by 12 inches.

          How to make your own DIY ModiBot hero

          Starting at one end of the strip, measure 4 1/2 inches and cut straight across the strip using the scissors. Now, do the same thing again, measure 4 1/2 inches down the strip and cut.

          This should leave you with 2 pieces measuring 4 1/2 inches and a leftover piece measuring 3 inches.

          Step 3: Attach your pieces to the figure

          This part can be a bit tricky, so it’s best to start by sliding the end of the zip tie into the slot until you hear or feel the first few clicks.

          How to make your own DIY ModiBot hero

          Then take the two longer strips and fold them over the top of the figure’s shoulders and cross-cross them. It’s easy to use your finger and thumb to hold the strips into place.

          How to make your own DIY ModiBot hero

          Now, point your figure’s toes and slide the zip tie up the legs to the waist.
          Now, you can slip the smaller strip underneath the zip tie belt and wrap it around the figure’s waist.

          How to make your own DIY ModiBot hero

          Next, slowly tighten the zip tie while holding every thing in place. It’s best to leave some slack in the belt to allow you move things around to get them just right before tightening completely.
          Lastly, trim off the extra bit of the zip tie.

           

          Step 4: Decorate your stick

          I chose here to make mine into a sword with a metal blade and black handle, but you are free to make the stick into anything you want.

          Step 5: Complete the design and start posing!

          How to make your own DIY ModiBot hero

           

          Making female figures with the Moli Modifier upgrade kit

          We are constantly being asked for some parts that more 'female' to complement to Mo. During our Kickstarter campaign, we came up with the idea to make a small set of female parts that you could mix with Mo to get a whole new female figure and we called her Moli.

          Originally, the only way to get Moli was as made-to-order kit from our ModiBot Custom shop. We have been selling the Basic Moli upgrade (which consists of a hip and torso) for several years, but, for the first time, we're now selling the Deluxe Moli Modifier kit here in our shop.

          The kit, available in white, is 3d printed in Polyamide, which is a form of polyester and comes on a single frame to make it easy to process and ship. In addition to the torso and hip parts found in the Basic set, the Deluxe Modifier set includes hands, feet, and ponytail, 7 parts in all.

          When you receive the kit, it is best to trim the parts off the frame using small wire snips, cuticle scissors, or, if you are careful, an exacto knife. (See the green lines on the image below to know where to cut).

          Moli Modifier Frame

          Once you've trimmed them off the frame, these 3d printed parts (shown in white) can then be added to various parts from the Mo figure (shown above in pink) to complete your Moli.

          As with Mo, Moli can be used for any number of creative projects, from drawing practice, to DIY character crafts, to stopmotion animation. Where she goes is driven by your imagination.

          ModiBot returns to Bay Area Maker Faire 2018

          We're ramping up for an appearance at the Bay Area Maker Faire, May 18-20.

          As many of you know, we launched at the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth in 2013, with some prelim samples of our molded figs and limited run of Maker Myke figures printed specifically for the show, all just prior to our launching our Kickstarter. We love the energy, optimism and curiosity it brings out in people. 

           

           

          We'll be exhibiting all sorts of new kits and accessories available for the first time in-person. We'll have the SpyBorg, Mechanoid Zero and Meta upgrade frame, ModiRaptor, Moli Modifier Frame, Human ExoSkin, and a variety of assorted weapons, accessories and figure upgrades.

          We'll also be featuring the MoBility Stopmotion torso and have a new Stopmotion Starter Kit on-hand for aspiring filmmakers and effects gurus who are looking for a way to take their first steps in visual storytelling. It was a hit at the East Bay Maker Faire last fall, so we'll have more on-hand

          We'll also have an activity/customization station for kids to come by and create some DIY activities like creating your own ModiBot characters with the character design template, making and detailing swords, hands-on ModiBot costuming and drawing Coats-of-Arms for their DIY shields.

          And, lastly, the MakerBot Rep 2 will be there churning out a selection of the free ModiBot models available on Thingiverse

          The show starts Friday, May 18 (afternoon only) and then goes all weekend. We're looking forward to it and we hope to see you there!