In addition to slow desensitization with positive reinforcement, the dog behaviorist also told us to find someone else to trim Loki’s nails. Because he’s aggressive during nail trims, we’ve always done it ourselves by putting a muzzle on him. We didn’t want to subject anyone to the possibility of being bit.
But the dog behaviorist recommended that we no longer do Loki’s nail trims for the time being and find someone else, either a professional groomer or the vet.
Because Loki perceives the ordeal as an attack and that breaks down his trust in us. He doesn’t trust us 100% to handle him. And doing his nails could undermine all of our other handling work (collar grabs, picking him up, handling his tail, handling his feet, and touching his teeth, brushing, etc.). For me, this sort of resolves the mystery of what I felt was his unpredictable nature. That 97% of the time, Loki would be okay with me taking his martingale collar off, and then randomly 3% of the time, he would be snarly. Even with all of the positive associations I provide with the collar, he might not trust me 100%. Perhaps his trust in us is only 97%, because 3% of the time we randomly “attack” him with the nail clippers. Even if we never actually hurt him, he still perceives it to be an attack.
"So… doesn’t that mean he’ll learn to not trust the vet or the groomer?," I asked.
"Yes, but better that person that you."
This is supposed to be just a short-term solution. In the meanwhile, the behaviorist recommended that I slowly desensitize Loki to nail trims. Yikkes! I’ve tried that before without success. The behaviorist tried to encourage me, saying that Loki’s tolerance might be greater now than before. Personally, I’m not convinced. Aren’t things like that supposed to be easier when they are pups? Why in the world would it be easier when he’s older? I’m ready to find a professional to do Loki’s nails as a permanent solution, rather than a temporary one.