If you can find a few minutes a day to spend with your dog, you can train them to do just about anything. This includes brushing their teeth.
It requires patience and a plan to teach and train your dog how to brush its teeth. You can start by using only your fingers in their mouth and around the tooth area so they can get used to it. Then you can start to gradually increase the frequency with toothpaste and then eventually a toothbrush.
Most dogs aren’t given the training they need to develop good brushing habits. It helps them maintain a healthy mouth and prevents bad breath. In this guide, we'll provide you with a few practical tips that can help train your dog to brush its teeth better without a fuss.
If you have ever taught your dog anything, you understand that training requires plenty of patience to be successful. The same applies to teeth brushing, especially since you are working with a sensitive part of your body. Keep reading to learn how to properly train and teach your dog to brush teeth.
How To Train & Teach Dogs To Brush Teeth
Training your pets can be quite tough especially if they are young or have behavioral issues. Teaching pets skills is not an easy task for the owners because it requires patience and consistency from both parties.
But there are ways to make sure that your dog learns what you want them to learn. You just have to be consistent with the training process and take time out for your dog every day.
There are several different ways you can train your dog to be healthy and brush their teeth for you. You can take an aggressive approach by holding them down in place while you brush their teeth or you can start slowly and allow them to get used to it.
Assuming your dog won’t allow you to go unannounced into his mouth with a brush, we will introduce a training method that warms your dog up to the idea of brushing teeth. This process works well but it requires some patience.
1. Introduce and Establish Reward Cues
Reward cues are defined as actions that prompt dogs to behave in a desired manner. If your dog is not responding to the effect of your training, you can use reward cues to motivate them and let them know they are doing the right things.
Examples of rewards include petting, treats, verbal praise, or toys. It must be something your dog responds to positively.
This is the first step to teaching your dog that it’s time for them to brush their teeth. Whether you use a toy or a treat, this method will help you train your dog to do what they need to do to get these rewards.
By rewarding your dog for good behavior, you can increase the chances that it will repeat that behavior in the future. However, you must use reward cues correctly, or else it could backfire and your dog could get confused by having too many rewards.
2. Start With Your Fingers
Start with your fingers and massage your dog's gums, teeth, and tongue so that it gets used to the sensation. The more you do this the easier it will be for them to get used to having their teeth brushed.
The best way to do this is by starting at the back of the mouth with the fingers and rubbing up towards the front teeth. You can use these fingers to massage around the gum line for better results too.
It is important to be patient and start slowly and gradually increase the amount of time you do this. They will become more and more comfortable with the process every day as you build more trust and reward positive behavior.
3. Add Toothpaste to Your Fingers
It can be challenging getting your dog used to toothpaste because of the sudden change in sensation. You can use toothpaste on their fingers, or brush them with your fingers.
One of the best ways for dogs to get comfortable with brushing their teeth is by using a small amount of toothpaste and gradually using a little more as they get more comfortable with the process.
Try to use toothpaste in every area with your fingers. It will only help move them along quicker as they get used to the feeling.
Remember to never use human toothpaste for your dog. It contains fluoride and this is extremely dangerous for a dog to consume. There are specially made toothpaste brands for first-time teeth brushing dogs too.
4. Trying Using a Toothbrush
So, now that you have taken the time, you can try using a toothbrush on your dog for the first time. You can scale back the amount of toothpaste on the first few tries to make sure your dog can handle the adjustment.
Brush lightly and do not be overly aggressive with the toothbrush in hand. Remember this feeling is different for your dog, so gentle brushing strokes will help them get through the process with their trust intact.
5. Repeat Regularly
Brushing your dog's teeth regularly will help reduce the chances of bad breath or any oral health problems. If you are not able to brush your dog's teeth by yourself, you can get a professional dog groomer or veterinary dentist who can help you do it.
We recommend trying to brush your dog’s teeth a few times per week, with a minimum of 2-3 being the benchmark for healthy oral hygiene.
What You Need To Brush Your Dog's Teeth
To get started with teeth brushing for your dog, you need a few items to make the process easier to handle.
Toothbrushes for dogs are specially made for their more fragile teeth. This is why it is best to use a special dog toothbrush.
Some brushes are made with softer bristles to avoid breaking or chipping your pet's teeth while brushing with them. It also helps with the new sensitivity while training them to embrace the feeling.
You can also get a special dog toothpaste that is made with safe ingredients. This is important because your pet's teeth are constantly exposed to bacteria, which can cause cavities and gingivitis.
You should know that the ingredients in this dog toothpaste won't irritate your pet's mouth or skin. Never use human toothpaste on your dog. The presence of fluoride can be poisonous to your dog and cause major health issues.
The last thing you will need is your reward cue. Whether this is a treat or a special toy, it should always be handy to reward your dog during the teaching process.
How Often Should You Brush Your Dog's Teeth?
Dogs’ teeth are important to maintain the health of your pet. Brushing is an essential part of good dental care and can help prevent serious oral problems.
Dogs get used to brushing their teeth and it becomes a routine that they want to follow. It also helps if you reward them with a treat afterward.
Ideally, brushing your dog’s teeth twice per day like we do as humans would be best but it can be excessive and unnecessary. You should try to brush your dog’s teeth two to three times per week to keep them clean and fight off any plaque build-up.
What To Do If Your Dog Growls When You Brush Their Teeth
If your dog growls when you brush its teeth, then you shouldn't be doing it that way. Growling is a sign of discomfort that should not be ignored. Dogs are limited in the way they can communicate with you, so stopping and listening is important.
The first thing to do is to try and figure out why your dog is doing this. If they just don't like the brush, then that's something that can be fixed with time and patience.
If they are attempting to bite your hand or you think they might, then stop the brushing process for now and check in with their vet to see if there is an underlying issue with their teeth or gums that needs addressing.
When Should You Start Training Dogs To Brush Their Teeth?
There are a lot of things that a dog owner should be aware of when it comes to their pet. One of the most important is that you have to establish a routine on how they brush their teeth. This will ensure that they are always being properly cared for and can help prevent any health problems down the line.
It is best to start brushing your dog's teeth around the age of 4-6 months. It will take them some time before they get used to it after some training. It also is best to wait until this time so they can lose their puppy teeth first.
Some people would recommend that people start training dogs to brush their teeth when they turn 1-2 years old. You can also start at 3-4 months old. You should see how their baby teeth react first before deciding.
However, the answer is different for every dog, depending on the age of the dog, what kind of dog they are, and their daily routines. However, it's safe to say that you should start brushing your dog's teeth before they turn one year old.
About THE AUTHOR
I have had dogs my whole life and have always trained my own dogs with patience and positive reinforcement. My dogs are my life. My family always had dogs growing up. I've trained dogs for clients while working at a local dog daycare. I hope that my research and experiences are helpful to you as I share them here.Read More About Russell Wright