Brushing your dog's teeth
- Pet toothpaste: You can purchase dog toothpaste from a local pet supply store or your veterinarian. Never use human toothpaste on your dog, its fluoride content could be harmful!
- Your dog's favorite treat: Whether bacon or a dog snack, choose something you know your dog will be motivated by. Is he not motivated by food, choose his favorite game.
- A finger brush: Many pet owners prefer a finger brush. However, you can experiment with all kinds of toothbrushes to find what you and your dog prefer. Just be sure you don't choose something with harsh bristles that could damage your dog's gums.
And now, you're ready to get started!
- Get your dog acclimated: When training, you want to get one message through to your dog: toothbrush = treats. This positive association will make tooth brushing a breeze in the future. Training is a lot easier if you do the training every day at the same moment of the day and for a short period. Your dog must think it's an easy game!
- Learn to sit still: Begin by having your dog sit still when you touch his nose then giving him a treat. The first time your timing has to be quick. His instinct is to move away from the hand but after a few days your dog will understand what is asked of him. When you are not able to touch the nose from above try touching the jaw first.
- Lift the lip: When the day comes that your dog can sit still for multiple seconds while you touch the nose it is time to move on. Lift the lip on the left side and give another treat. Then on the right side. Next rub your dog's gums with your fingers. Move slowly like this until your dog begins to pull away or seems nervous. Don't start to use the toothbrush just yet. At the first signs of pulling away, give it a rest and do the first easy step that your dogs knows well. That is sitting still while touhing the nose and try the next day. Best is to go really slow and add 1 step every day. In total the training can take up to 3 weeks.
- "Brush" with your finger: For the first few full brushings, use only your finger with toothpaste on it.
- Introduce the toothbrush: A good way to show your dog the toothbrush for the first time is by letting him lick some of the toothpaste off of it. When you feel that your dog is comfortable with you using your finger and toothpaste, add the brush. Focus always on the top teeth first, these are the easiest to get to and should be the only teeth touched during your training periods. Gently lift your dog's lips with your free hand and use your dominant hand to brush the teeth.
- Incorporate the whole mouth: Once you feel that your dog is comfortable with the toothbrush and having all of his upper teeth brushed, move on to the more difficult lower teeth. Opening the mouth and brush the inside of the teeth is the last step. These may take longer for both of you to master and grow comfortable with, so again, be sure not to move too quickly. Use treats liberally during this training process.
- Brush daily: Once you've trained your dog to accept brushing, be sure to keep up the habit by regular brushing, followed by a treat.