From the very first time that I cut a puppy's nails, I reinforce her cooperation.
I hold the puppy on her back on my lap with a container of small bits of something very tasty - chicken! hot dogs! - on the desk or table in front of us. And this is what they learn:
Lie on your back. Get a treat.
Hold still. Get a treat.
Have a nail clipped. Get a treat.
Hold still some more. Get a treat.
Have second nail clipped. Get a treat.
Third nail. Treat!
I remember the moment when Viljo, as a young puppy, got the concept. He became very still like a statue and willed me to cut a nail so that he could get a treat! ha ha! That's the idea, little guy!
After a couple of nail cutting sessions, I will cut two nails between each treat. Then three. Then a whole paw. But sometimes I will cut one nail and give two treats!
After several sessions, they don't get any treats while their nails are being cut but they always get a treat afterward.
The result of a bit of patience and reward with young puppies is having adult dogs who ask to be next to have their nails cut!
Photos below are of Taya getting her nails done on September 7, 2012. She was 14 weeks old and not new to this although we were hours away from home at the time. I have wanted to put a post like this up for some time but needed someone to take the pictures. Diane Webb took these photos for me and did an excellent job of it! Thank you, Diane! And thank you, Taya!