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How To Keep Dog Nails Short Without Clipping [4 Alternate Solutions]

Your dog’s nails are going to grow. That’s inevitable. 

But keeping them short is no mean feat – they grow so fast.

You may have heard the horror stories of clipping a dog’s nails or being too afraid to do so. 

I don’t blame you.

It’s a lot of pressure.

And if your dog is anything like mine, he’s a fidgeter who won’t sit still.

Or is outright scared of them!

So naturally, you are going to want (actually need) an alternative.

Here are your four best options based on my experience and the professionals’ advice over the years. 

The Natural Way: Taking Walks on Hard Surfaces

One of the simplest and most effective ways to keep your dog’s nails short(er) is to take them for regular walks on hard surfaces. 

As your dog walks on the pavement or concrete, their nails will naturally file down, preventing them from growing too long.

Bailey and I have a daily routine of walks around our neighborhood.

Not only do these walks keep his nails in check, but they also provide much-needed exercise and mental stimulation for him. It’s a win-win!

Remember that this method may not be suitable for dogs with joint issues or those more sensitive to walking on hard surfaces. 

At the same time also considered that this will likely not be enough to completely trim them back. Though it does help!

Learn more: Does Walking Your Dog Trim Their Nails?

Invest in a Nail Grinder: Power Tools to the Rescue

This is my standout recommendation. 

These electric devices use a rotating head to gently grind down your dog’s nails, making them shorter and smoother.

They also come with a range of protective features, keeping your dog safe, and calm, in the process.

I was a bit hesitant to try a nail grinder with Bailey at first, given his aversion to loud noises. But the grinder I purchased is surprisingly quiet. 

And with some positive reinforcement and a gradual introduction, he quickly became comfortable with the process.

When using a nail grinder, it’s important to start at the lowest speed setting and work your way up as your dog becomes more comfortable. 

Remember to offer plenty of praise and treats throughout the process to create a positive association with the tool.

Here is the grinder I use, and here is how we use it. We’ve never looked back.

Learn more: LuckyTail Nail Grinder Review [Here Is Why You Need It]

Doggy Nail File: A Gentle Alternative to Clippers

If you’re looking for a more hands-on approach, consider using a dog nail file. 

These handy tools are designed to gently file down your dog’s nails without causing pain or discomfort.

I’ve found that the trick to using a nail file successfully with Bailey is to make it a positive experience. 

Start by getting your dog used to the file by letting them sniff and investigate it.

Then, gradually introduce the file to their nails, gently filing each one and offering praise and treats as you go.

This method requires a bit more time and patience, but it’s an option to consider. 

Doggy Nail Caps: The Workaround No-Clip Solution

If all else fails, you can always consider using dog nail caps. 

These small, rubber-like caps fit over your dog’s nails, preventing them from causing damage to your floors and furniture. 

They’re also a great option for dogs who simply refuse to let you trim their nails.

I’ve used nail caps with Bailey in the past, and they’ve been a lifesaver when we’ve had guests over or needed to protect our hardwood floors.

The caps are easy to apply and typically last for about four to six weeks before they need replacing. 

Just make sure to pick the right size for your dog’s nails and follow the instructions on the packaging for proper application.

To apply the nail caps, gently hold your dog’s paw and spread their toes apart. 

Apply the adhesive provided with the caps, and then slide the cap onto your dog’s nail. 

Hold it in place for a few seconds to allow the adhesive to set. 

Once all the caps are applied, give your dog plenty of praise and a treat for a job well done.

Note: caps essentially blunt your dogs nails, rather than shortening them. They are therefore considered a workaround solution. 

Maintaining a Regular Nail Care Routine

No matter which method you choose, the key to keeping your dog’s nails short without clipping is consistency. 

Establish a regular nail care routine for your dog, and stick to it. 

Whether you’re taking daily walks, filing, grinding, or using nail caps, regular maintenance is essential for your dog’s comfort and well-being.

In addition to these methods, always remember to keep an eye on your dog’s nails for any signs of injury, infection, or excessive growth.

 If you notice any issues or have concerns about your dog’s nails, don’t hesitate to consult your veterinarian for advice.


I know how important it is to keep our dog’s nails short. 

But I also understand that clipping isn’t always an option, whether due to a dog’s fear or discomfort. 

That’s why I’m so glad I discovered these alternative methods for keeping Bailey’s nails in check.

And my, they are effective. Particularly the nail grinder! 

The good news is that you have options and a solution exists for every dog and their owner.

So, go ahead and give these methods a try. 

Your dog—and your floors—will thank you for it. 

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