The smaller the dog, the bigger the issue with grooming. Especially when it comes to handling a Chihuahua's feet (or any very small breed; Rat Terrier, Poodle, Pomeranian, Schnauzer, Yorkie). Chihuahua's are very sensitive to the fact that they are small, therefore easily stepped on. These small dogs tend to move their feet out of the way very quickly, and hide them if they fear a painful experience (who wouldn't).
Your approach to trimming your Chihuahua's nails is what will set the tone for the entire experience. If you act differently (talking baby talk, giving treats, or feel apprehensive), don't do it yourself. You should feel as matter-of-fact about nail trimming as you do brushing your own teeth. Your Chihuahua will know (from 10 feet away) if you are carrying any tension or fear, so do not even attempt it until all is calm.
To put your Chihuahua's fears to rest, try these steps:
1.) Have a table ready, preferably a table or counter with no traction for your Chihuahua to plan an escape. Your Chihuahua will be much more willing to let you work with their feet if they have to rely on you for support.
2.)Have your toenail clipping supplies ready to go before you start. You will need; dog nail clippers (heavy duty always work the best), styptic powder (just in case), fine grit nail file.
3.) Pick up your Chihuahua and head for the nail trimming area (remember, no nervousness). Stand your Chihuahua on the prepared table, do not let it try to climb up on you. You must use a firm tone, and have the conviction to finish what you start.
4.) Speed and accuracy count the most in trimming your Chihuahua's toenails. Note: If you are right handed, the pup should face your left hand, if you are left handed, the pup should face your right hand.
Lift your Chihuahua's front foot and bring it up and toward the dog's tail so the nails and pad are facing up. Now place the toenail trimmers flat against the Chihuahua's foot, this should keep you from cutting to far back (into the quick). In a smooth motion, clip the toenail tips only. Don't forget to check for a dewclaw.
To clip the far side feet, do not move the dog, simply reach over the dog's body.
Repeat Step 4 for all feet.
5.) If everything has gone well, take the fine grit nail file and go over each nail removing any sharp edges. Again, don't forget to check the dewclaw.
6.) Some Chihuahua's have extended toenail quicks, this happens when the toenails are allowed to grow as a puppy without trimming back. If you trim beyond the quick, the toenail will bleed (sometimes profusely). Have your styptic powder handy. To immediately stop the bleeding, pack the nail tip with the styptic powder. Do not use a towel as the sharp edges of the toenail can become entwined in the nap, causing your Chihuahua to panic. Styptic powder is the best solution. Kwik Stop Styptic Powder is readily available at any reputable pet supply store.
7.) After you are finished trimming your Chihuahua's toenails, reward the puppy with a shower of love and affection.
If you feel you need someone to hold your Chihuahua while you clip the toenails, this person should be as committed as you are. If you have a larger Chihuahua, have the "handler" put one arm under the dog's neck (with the dog's head in the crook of the elbow). If you have a very small Chihuahua, place one hand behind each ear and point the dog's face away from the trimmer.
If your Chihuahua is very sensitive about it's feet being handled, touch them and rub them often. When you are relaxing with your Chihuahua, rub your hands all over their feet and in between toes. This should be done several times a day starting at a very young age, if possible, to encourage handling.
Even older Chihuahua's will eventually trust you enough to let you clip their toenails.
If you still feel uncomfortable about trimming your Chihuahua's toenails, let a professional handle it. There is no shame in this, and you still get to shower your pet with love and affection after the groomer or veterinarian has the job done.