This is probably the hardest of all the grooming areas to master. If you are squeamish and unsure of what you are doing, or your Golden has had a bad experience in the past, pay a professional to trim his nails for you. The fee is nominal and well worth it to know that your dog's nails are a healthy length and that he was not traumatized in the process. You can then concentrate on teaching your Golden Retriever to accept and like having his feet handled and held, ultimately making his experience better down the road.
The shaping steps for teaching your dog to like having his feet handled for grooming are outlined in Chapter 7. If you are attempting to trim your dog's nails yourself, hold the paw under the light so that you can view the nail from the side. You'll want to trim just the pointy part of the nail. Avoid the area where the nail gets thicker, and you will avoid making the nail bleed. Always have some sort of styptic powder handy to stop a nicked nail from bleeding and avoid a mess.
Keeping the nails trimmed is important to your dog's overall gait and comfort. Goldens with long nails can get them caught and torn off on brush outside or snagged in carpets around the house. Walking on feet with nails that are too long can distort the foot, making it difficult and painful to walk or run. If your Golden Retriever walks on pavement on a regular basis, you may find that you do not have to trim his nails quite so often.
An alternative to using a nail clipper is to use a grinder or dremel. These are battery operated and are an excellent alternative to using clippers. One word of caution: A grinder can heat up and burn the nail if you hold it in one spot too long. Try to keep it moving over the edge of the nail until it is the desired length.