Does Walking Your Dog Trim Their Nails?

Dog on Dartmoor

Looking after our dogs can come with many different tasks. Amongst those tasks trimming your dog’s nails can be something people often miss. As walking is such a big part of owning a dog can you naturally trim a dog’s nails by walking them?

Dogs naturally trim their nails through contact with the ground and as an owner walking your dog can keep them trim. This is the most natural way in which a dog can keep their nails short, however, they will still need to be manually trimmed at some point as they are no longer living in the wild, where contact with hard surfaces is constant. 

Despite the fact that walking your dog regularly can help to trim their nails and reduce the amount of clipping they require, there are some other factors to take into account when looking after your favorite furry friend. below are some things you should think about before relying on this method to keep your dog’s nails trim.


Hard Surfaces vs Soft Surfaces

Coming from personal experience you will know exactly when your dog’s nails need trimming if you have a hard floor at home. The clip-clopping sound of paws is something that instantly gives me the notice I need for getting my dog’s nails trimmed. If you have softer flooring at home like the carpet you may not realize your dog’s nails are getting too long.

Walking your dog can have so many benefits including keeping your dog’s nails trim. It should not be assumed that simply walking your dog will keep their nails trim as there are some factors to consider. The most important factor to consider is where you walking your dog. Walking your dog on harder surfaces will help keep there nails trimmed dog. Softer surfaces are less likely to keep your dog’s nails trimmed unless your planning on walking them all day, every day. Wild dogs such as wolves keep their nails trim by walking and running, the only difference between them and domestic dogs is that they benefit from being out all day long. Hunting across long distances allows them to keep their nails short. In many cases, if your dog’s nails become too long they may start to bite them, especially if they are causing pain.

Dog on Dartmoor

Why Should You Keep Your Dogs Nails Trim

Trimming your dog’s nails can often be something owners forget to do. It may not seem like something that is important but by ignoring this grooming task you could end up causing your dog an unnecessary discomfort. If a dog’s nails are left to grow long, you will find your dog is uncomfortable walking around. This discomfort can then cause your dog to distribute their weight in an uneven way leading to further problems, especially later in life. By having longer nails a dog is more likely to get them caught in loose materials like carpets or blankets. If this happens they can accidentally rip their nail out as they don’t realize the damage they can do by pulling their paw away from the material.

These are the two most important reasons for keeping your dog’s nails trim. However, the benefits are extremely obvious when you see the difference in your dog’s mood once their nails have been trimmed. Walking your dog can be a great way of keeping on top of their nail trimming and allow them to naturally trim their own nails.

How Often Should You Trim A Dogs Nails?

This depends on many factors, including the surfaces they walk on. If you live in a house that has hard flooring, a paved backyard and you walk your dog on the pavement 3 times a day, you may find you never have to trim your dog’s nails. Kennel Club suggests that you should be clipping your dog’s claws every month, however, they do also state that it will heavily depend on the amount of wear their claws get. From personal experience my dogs require their nails trimmed every 4 months. However they spend lots of time outside on rocky pathways, so this may have a contributing factor. The best way to manage your dog’s nail length is to regularly check that they are not protruding beyond the paw pad.

How Do You Know When To Trim Dogs Nails?

As previously stated you will know when your dog’s nails need trimming by the sound they make on hard surfaces. Dogs do not have retractable claws such as cats so naturally, they are always on show. As a general rule, your dog’s nails should not protrude beyond their paw pad. Overgrown nails tend to be touching the ground and if left for too long they start to curl up underneath your dog’s paws, creating an extremely uncomfortable experience. If your dog’s nails get to this state you must trim them as soon as possible. It may be a good idea to take them to the vet, so they can ensure no damage has been done to the paw. Walking on hard surfaces like pavements can not only help you to trim their nails naturally but also alert you to when they are getting too long.

What Should You Do If Your Dogs Nails Are Too Long

If your dog’s nails have overgrown and have become too long, you will need to trim them down as soon as possible. You can easily do this yourself or if you are not comfortable doing it yourself, you can take your dog to the vets or even the groomers. Trimming your dog’s nails will require the correct tools, the most common tool is simply some dog nail clippers. You should choose the right size clippers for the type of dog you have. If you not as confident, or you want to be extra careful the best option is a nail grinder for dogs. This tool allows you to trim the dog’s nail to the correct size, it takes a little longer but you have more control over the length.

What Surfaces To Walk Your Dog On To Help Trim Their Nails?

Below is a list of some great types of terrain to help keep your dog’s nails trim.

  • Pavement – This is probably the most common one we all have access to. As we are usually nearby to our homes it can be an easy solution to the do regular short walks around the block.
  • Woodland Trails – Despite being softer than pavement, woodland trails tend to be hard compacted dirt and rock. Probably my dog’s favorite place to go, you will have to make a compromise with the mud.
  • The Beach – This one is not as effective as some listed here, but it gives a great opportunity to encourage some digging. Dogs love to dig and once they get down to the more compacted sand it can help towards keeping nails trim. Let’s face it every dog loves the beach. Here is our guide to “Walking Your Dog On The Beach”
  • Mountain Trails – This is for the more wild adventurous dog. The hard rocky trails can be extremely beneficial on their nails. Its also of great benefit to you as the views are going to be great.
  • Paved/Slabbed Backyard – If you happen to have a paved back garden then you could spend some time out there with your dog, which will help towards keeping their nails trim.

Remember Your Dogs Paws

It’s great to keep your dog’s nails naturally trim. However, you should always do this whilst keeping a watchful eye on paw care. your dog’s paws are probably one of, if not the most important feature of them. Walking your dog can help to trim their nails, but over walking them on hard surfaces can cause problems with their paws and joints. From the list above I, wood chooses woodland trails as the best way to keep your dog’s nails trim, and from personal experience, the mixture of hard and soft ground has helped keep my dogs healthy, with trim nails. If you do walk your dog on hard surfaces be sure to protect their paws with either dog booties or paw wax. Paw licking can be a sign of anything from an injury to an unhealthy habit. To learn more about why a dog licks his paws check out our article, “Why Does My Dog Lick His Paws After A Walk”. 


In conclusion, your dog’s nails can be trimmed by walking them regularly. There are so many benefits to walking your dog and trimming their nails is just one. For more great advice on dog walking and get out and about with your dog check our other articles.



Dean Lissaman

As a child I grew up around dogs and have loved them ever since. I now have a beloved Golden Retriever who enjoys exploring the outside world. Being an outdoor enthusiast has inspired me to create the ultimate resource on relating both dogs and the outdoors. For more information on me check out my about page.

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