Like people, oral health is a very important part of your dog’s overall well being . This means a consistent brushing routine. Once a day is ideal . I know many dogs do not enjoy having their teeth brushed. Because of this, I simplified the process of teaching your dog to allow you to brush their teeth into three steps.
Before you get started it is important to have 3 things.
- Treats your dog likes.
- Toothpaste your dog likes. Most pets stores sell flavored dog toothpaste. Poultry, beef, and peanut butter flavors are usually a hit. DO NOT use human toothpaste for your dog.
- A toothbrush. Most pet stores sell dog toothbrushes, but you can also buy a kids size toothbrush (pictured below).
Teach your dog a chin target. The reason to teach your dog a chin target is so that they hold their head still while you brush. This makes it easier to scrub all their pearly whites. You can have your dog target any object with their chin, your hand, a chair, your leg, etc. To start, you can lure your dog’s chin on the chosen surface, and click-treat when his/her chin touches said object. As your dog improves, gradually increase the amount of time your dog’s chin is touching the surface before you click-treat. The goal with this behavior is a nice long duration.
Get your dog used to their toothbrush and toothpaste. I recommend buying toothpaste that has a more appetizing flavor like chicken, beef, or peanut butter. Start by putting some toothpaste onto your finger and letting your dog lick it off. Then, put it onto the toothbrush and let your dog lick it off. Once you have done this lots (and lots!) of times you can begin moving the toothbrush slightly while it is inside your dog’s mouth.
Combine steps 1 and 2. You can now begin asking your dog for a chin rest and presenting the toothbrush. Start by just letting your dog lick the toothpaste off, then slowly begin moving the toothbrush around. Keep sessions short and sweet. If your dog is struggling just go back a step. Remember to move slowly from step to step, ensuring that your dog has mastered the step you are on before moving to the next one.
 Pet dental care. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/pet-owners/petcare/pet-dental-care
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