Basic Information, Clippers, How To

Trimming Up Those Feet!

beforefoot0913-002Nothing is more satisfying than taking what I like to call “grinch” feet, and turning them into polished feet.  To accomplish this task, you need to shave the pads and trim the excess hair.  The tools I use are a pair of detachable blade clippers, such as the Andis AG+ 2-Speed Clipper, which I have done a review on, a #10 or #40 blade, in the pictures and clips below I am using a Wahl Ultimate Competition Series #40 blade, a slicker brush, and a pair of scissors, shown are Value Groom 6.5″ Curved Ball Tip Shears.  Now, some people will also use thinners, or solely use thinners.  That is personal preference; I like normal ball tip shears because they are shorter, and quicker for me, and I can still achieve a natural look.  Also, having a form of Cool Lube, a spray that helps cool off blades, is recommended.  When you are new at shaving pads, it will take you a while to do, and you need a coolant to help cool off your blades.Showcased below will be a video on how to shave pads and trim feet.

afterfoot0913-002As in the Nails, a Daunting Task… or is it? post, I explained about how to hold the leg and foot in a more natural manner that is comfortable for the dog.  You want to make sure you are not overextending the leg, and you don’t want the leg pulled straight back, you want around a 45 degree angle, close to the body.  Now, after I finish trimming or grinding the nails is when I will trim feet.  The reason for this, is because when you try trimming around the foot with longer nails, you are not going to be able to get a good looking foot, and you will keep catching your scissors on the nails, which can damage your scissors.

shavedpad0913-001Now we are going to discuss the first part, which is shaving the pads.  Whenever I have trained bathers on this task, I always have them start out with a #10 blade, so if you are just starting out with this, that is what I recommend.  For the bathers I have trained, if they decide to pursue dog grooming, they will then be trained to work with a #40 blade for the feet.  I have had some groomers stick with a #30 blade, and that is totally fine as well.  Whatever blade you end up being comfortable with using that can still remove a good amount of hair works.  Also, make sure your coolant is nearby, because like I said, if you are just starting out with this, your blade is going to get hot, and a towel to catch the excess of coolant and to wipe down the blade.  You want to be consistently checking your blade to make sure it is not hot.  I check the blade on my wrist or my cheek.  To use the coolant, I have my towel underneath, hold my clippers down, and with the clippers running, I spray the coolant, until the blade gets cold.  I then wipe the excess product off on the towel to dry off my blade.  How I like to start with shaving the pad is beginning near the two nails in the center.  I want to get the bulk of the hair off first, and lying the blade flush with the pad, I will shave from the nails to the very top of the main pad.  I use this same technique following the line of the hair with the two outside nails.  Next is shaving in between the main pad, and the four pads connecting to the nails.  You want to scoop out the hair, NEVER dig.  When you dig into the pad and foot, you will cut the skin there.  You want to use a scooping method and follow the main pad.  It is angled like a V, so you want the edge of the blade to hit the bottom corner of the V on the pad, and you want to angle the blade so where it lines up straight following the V shave.  I have a picture showcasing what I am trying to explain.  You then lightly scoop out the hair.  If you are not understanding what I mean by this, the video below showcases that.  You do that for both sides, and you are good to go!  It will take some time to perfect shaving the pads, so please do not feel discouraged.  It is nerve racking for first timers, and dogs will tend to be a little more wiggly because they can sense your nerves.  Don’t worry about perfection when you are first starting out.  Pay attention to the holding and technique, and you will improve on getting more hair out, the more you practice shaving pads.

beforefoot0913-001If you were scared about shaving pads, I know you are going to be nervous about trimming feet.  It is another daunting task, involving a really sharp object, a pair of scissors.  This is something else that I recommend you taking really slow, because it is scary trying this out.  I use a pair of ball tip curved scissors to complete this task.  The first thing I do is lift and bend the paw, and brush all of the hair around the back of the pad down, where I want the hair overlapping the back of the pad.  With the curved part of my scissors, I will trim straight across the back of the pad.  Now, pay attention to the placement of your scissors.  You want to make sure that when you trim, you are not going to be catching any part of skin or pad, you just want the hair.  I will brush down the hair one more time, then repeat trimming the hair across.  I’ll set the foot down for a second and start working on trimming the hair on the foot.  With your slicker brush, you want to brush up the hair on the foot, meaning you want to brush the opposite way the hair is laying.  You want the hair to stick up.  On the same aspect of how you want to pay attention to the placement of your scissors behind the pad, you want to do the same here and pay attention to the tip of your shears.  Using my curved shears, I follow the curve of the foot, and trim following the roundness of the foot.  When it comes to the sides of the foot, you want to do the same thing, follow the natural curve of the foot and trim, being mindful of the placement of your scissors.  My philosophy when you are just starting out, trim less, then as you get more comfortable and confident, you’ll be able to trim closer.  One other thing I like to do, after I have done a base trim of the foot, is to take my fingers in between the toes and pull up more hair, and trim the excess.  Your brush cannot get everything, so using this technique I’m able to clean up more hair.  Instead of scissors, others will use thinners or blender to trim up the hair in between the toes and of the foot for more of a natural appearance.  If you need a better understanding, the video is down below on shaving pads and trimming feet.

afterfoot0913-001Hopefully I was able to explain and showcase this process easy enough for you to understand.  Any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to leave them in the comment section below.  I’m going to say this, because I have to say this, perform these tasks at your own risk, I am not held liable or responsible for anything that may occur at your own hands.  Till next time!

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