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DIY Scratchboard

diy Feb 16, 2021

I know that a lot of you struggle with keeping yours dogs nails trimmed and I was right there with you, until I made this scratch board!

Nail trims have always been a struggle with Waylon and his front nails hadn’t been clipped in way too long. So I was so excited to make a scratch board and teach him to file his own nails!

Scratch Board Materials


After a bit of initial training I was able to get both Waylon and Tiva to offer scratching the board with both front feet! If your dog already knows how to shake it won’t take long to translate it to the scratch board. There are a couple things you’ll do differently if you’ve worked with me before. One is that you’ll toss your reinforcement away from you + the dog at first. The idea is that they’ll retrieve the treat and return to you to re-engage the scratch board. Check out the video to see an example.

Teaching your dog to scratch at the board:

  1. Mark and reward for any interaction with the board. Instead of feeding to your dog’s mouth as we do with other training processes, toss reinforcement away to be retrieved.
  2. Mark and reward for paw touching, grazing, coming near scratch board. As above, toss reinforcement away.
  3. Mark and reward for paw touching scratch board. As above, toss reinforcement away.
  4. Mark and reward for more paw touching, NOW reward to dogs mouth.
  5. Mark and reward for scratching, even if just for a second. Reward to dogs mouth.

Mark and reward for more scratching, toss reinforcement away.

Like I mentioned both my dogs already had offering a paw on cue so I was able to use that trained behavior to get the dogs to switch paws.

Initially I did a few sessions in a week but once their nails were where I wanted them, I went down to one training session with the scratch board per week.

Let me know how it worked out for your dogs!

-Rachel Laurie Harris, CPDT-KA

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