The best time to get your dog used to having their nails trim is to start early. Whether you get your dog as a puppy or you adopt an adult dog.
1. Start getting your pup used to having her paws touched. Touch their paws on a daily basis. The more often you play with their paws the more used to you holding their paws they will get.
If you dog pulls away grab a treat and hold it in your hand for them to smell while you touch their paws for a few seconds. Once you let go of the paw say OK and give them the treat. Continue to do this until your dog is comfortable enough with you holding their paw.
2. Place the nail clippers near their food bowl. This will allow them to see the clippers all of the time opposed to just when you cut their nails. You don't want them to associate the clippers with the stress it may have caused them while you clipped their nails. Pick them up and put them down near the dish while your dog watches you. This way when you pick up the clippers next time to clip their nails it will keep your dogs level of anxiety down, making it easier to clip their nails.
3. Now that you are ready to start clipping. Start slow. Start with one nail. After you clip the first nail, give the dog a treat. If the dog will allow you to move to the next nail with out fidgeting repeat this process. Trim one nail and give a treat right after. Eventually, the dog will become more comfortable after each trimming expecting something positive to come along after each nail trim.
Please note: If your dog allows you to trim one nail, but is still very anxious. Start this process by clipping one nail a day. Then clip a second nail and a third nail once your dogs anxiety level starts to drop. And if your dog is very anxious at the sight of the clippers start with the dogs back feet. Place your body between the dogs back feet and the dogs face so the dog cannot see the trimmers. Then slowly move forward to the front paws. And remember be patient. If all you can do is one nail a day for a while, just stick with it. Keep it positive.
4. Once you have been able to complete the above step with all of your pups toes in one sitting, now you can back off the treats, to one treat for every other toe to a treat every paw, all the way to a treat every other paw. The key is to keep your dog comfortable during the process.
5. If you are not sure how far to cut you can always look underneath your dogs nail. You will be able to see a portion of the nail hollow stop by a meaty part. Click just before the meaty part.
Note: If your dogs nails are very long and the quick has grown with the nail the best thing to do is to start clipping your dogs nails more frequently, and just cut small amounts at a time. The quick eventually will start to move back on it's own.
The key to cutting your dogs nails is keeping it a positive experience for your dog and for you. The less anxious you are, the less anxious your dog will be. The more positive things your dog can associate with clipping his/her nails the easier it will be each time.
The same process can be used on cats.
As a rule we trim nails once a week. The key is the more often you trim your dogs nails the more comfortable they will be each time.
And remember don't be afraid to ask for help!