How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth
By Nicholas Bradley for Exceptional Canine
You bend down to give your dog some love, bringing his face up to yours for a wet-nose kiss. Instead, you get a blast of hot, foul dog breath.
It’s time to brush your dog’s teeth. But many dogs are resistant to dental hygiene — something that is recommended by vets at least twice a week. Touch and exercise are the training tools you need to get your dog to comply.
Train Your Dog to Accept Your Touch
First, it’s important to train dogs to get used to our touch all over, especially places where they might be more sensitive. We do this so that it won’t be so alarming when it’s time to brush their teeth or to get a look inside — or even when a child’s hand goes in your dog’s mouth exploring. Some steps for getting your dog used to touch:
- Massage his paws
- Touch his tail
- Rub his belly, legs and inner thighs
- Put your hand in his mouth
Once your dog is used to your touch, the best way to get the upper hand in dental hygiene is to give your dog a good, exhausting run in the park before getting near his mouth. All dog maintenance goes smoother with a tired dog, rather than one that is raring to go.
Getting Down to Tooth-brushing
To brush your dog’s teeth, use a veterinary soft-bristled toothbrush. To get your dog used to the brush, let him lick the flavored paste off of the brush. Brush in circular motions, getting at the gumline and making sure to get her back teeth as well. Reinforce with treats throughout the process. If your dog really won’t let you get the brush in, smear some peanut butter on the fridge at dog-level and let him lick it off while you brush his teeth. You’ll notice the difference right away in that doggie kiss!
Nicholas Bradley is a dog trainer and basic obedience instructor at The Doggie Clubhouse in Hewitt, N.J. He is certified by the Animal Behavior College. Bradley is also the owner of The Doggie Chalet, a pet-sitting and doggie day care service.