How to Train Your Dog to Allow You to Brush His Teeth

How to Train Your Dog to Allow You to Brush His Teeth

How to Train Your Dog to Allow You to Brush His Teeth.

Step 1: Get comfortable in your recliner and have a dish of high-value dog treats within easy reach (of you, not the dog!). Request that your dog sits in front of you. Place one hand on the back of the dog’s neck and the other beneath his jaw.
Teach the dog to sit calmly while holding his head softly.

If the dog keeps his head steady, count one second in your brain, use your marker signal (such as a clicker), or use a specific phrase or vocal noise if using two hands, then remove your hands away and give him one of the goodies from your bowl.

When your dog sits motionless, this approach provides him two rewards: you let go of his head and mouth, and he receives a dog treat. Letting go of his brain also provides him a reprieve, allowing him to avoid being too tense or impatient.

If the dog wiggles or resists, place your hands on his head gently until he stops moving, then count one second, use your marker signal, phrase, or noise, remove your hands away, and give him a reward.

Move on when your dog can sit for one second three to five times in succession. Ask him to keep motionless for two seconds, three seconds, and so on while your hands are on his head, building up to five seconds. Before you raise your count, he must be able to remain motionless three times in a row at each time period. Remember to work on both sides of his lips and head.

Step 2: Now, do the same thing you did in step 1, but this time moves your hands farther forward on your dog’s head. Obviously, your aim is to convince your dog to let you touch and grip his muzzle, as well as raise his lips on both sides of his mouth.

One hand should be on top of your dog’s head, while the other should be under his jaw or chin. If he stays motionless, repeat your one-second count. If he moves his head, gently hold it until he stops, then count one second, use your marker gesture, phrase, or noise, release go, and give him his reward. Increase your time count by one-second intervals once your dog has completed the task at least three times.

Step 3: Gently move both hands forward on your dog’s head, one covering his eyes and the other under his jaw or chin. If he maintains his head motionless while you count and utilize your marker signal, you may reward him.

Step 4: Gently raise one of his top lips on one side of his snout with one of your fingers. Use your marker signal, phrase, or noise, remove your hands away, and give him his reward if he stays calm and motionless for one second.
What a nice young man! Increase the time you ask him to keep still by one-second increments, like in the previous stages, and remember to exercise on both sides of his head and lips.
Raise your top lip.

Step 5: Once your dog allows you to grasp his snout, elevate his top lip, and move the corner of his lip backward (to reveal the bigger molar teeth in the rear of his mouth), you may start “brushing.” Hold his mouth softly open, elevate his top lip, and massage his front teeth with your finger for one to two seconds. If he keeps his head motionless and is calm, give him his reward while using your marker signal, phrase, or noise.

Repeat three to five times on both sides of his mouth before attempting to “brush” a bigger area or farther back in his mouth. Small portions of his mouth should be rubbed at a time so he receives regular rewards. As you get more experience, you’ll be able to massage greater parts of his teeth at once.

Step 6: Repeat step 5, but this time touch the teeth with a tiny bit of canine toothpaste on your finger. (Do not use human toothpaste on your dog; only use dog toothpaste.)

Step 7: Repeat the training steps using a gauze pad wrapped around your finger to acclimatize the dog to the extra friction and the sensation of something other than your finger in his mouth. Start with little areas of his teeth at first, and make sure he holds still for at least three times before moving on to a bigger or new region. Continue to use your marker signal, phrase, or noise, and praise the dog for keeping his head and mouth steady.
Using a gauze pad, brush your teeth.

Voilà! You and your dog may now brush together in peace! Consider how much less stress you’ll be under and how much better your dog’s mouth will be. It will also save you money at the vet since your dog will not need as much expert dental treatment.
Stop whatever you’re doing and don’t provide a reward if your dog shows an aggressive reaction, such as snarling, during any of the steps.

Return to a previously acceptable step and wait a few seconds for your dog to calm down before providing a reinforcer. Then work your way up to the step that prompted the hostile reaction more slowly. If the hostility persists, get help from your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist.

This method may also be used to educate your dog to stay calm when you trim his nails or provide eye or ear medicine.

Staying on Track and Avoiding Pitfalls

Remove any and all incentives or reinforcements for bothersome behavior. That is, ignore the dog when he engages in a bothersome habit and instead praise and reward him for sitting, being quiet, chewing on his toys, and other pleasant actions.
Maintain consistency. If leaping upon humans is permitted on weekends, the dog will not recognize that the rules are different during the week. Dogs do not distinguish between days, jeans, and business dress.

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Keep trying. The dog will not instantly quit his original approach after frequent reinforcement (however inadvertent) of a nuisance behavior.
But eventually, the light bulb will go out, and he’ll realize the new and better technique to acquire what he wants. Remember that dogs, like humans, may return to a previously successful method; just ignore him and request the new behavior.

Take pleasure in your dog’s dogness. To get our attention, dogs steal food, leap, and other irritating things. They’re canines. If they were goldfish, though, we couldn’t teach them to high-five or cuddle with them on the sofa. We can obtain the best of both worlds—nice manners and dedicated companionship—if we spend a little time teaching them the behaviors we enjoy.
So, what exactly did we say?

Sure, modifying a behavior seems to be simple here. It’s true that putting the instructions into practice might be difficult at times. All family members should be engaged and follow a regular training regimen. Just remember the fundamentals.
Manage the circumstances so that the dog is unable to continue practicing and acquiring unwanted habits.

Make sure your dog gets enough mental and physical activity. Dogs aren’t toys to be kept out of sight and mind and then amused whenever we want (see chapter 9).
Put the dog on a “please” program, which entails only rewarding him with desired items when he behaves quietly and nicely.

Begin a methodical training program to teach the dog more desired behaviors. Remember that you get what you encourage, so only give your dog the things he wants when he acts the way you want.

Take excellent conduct with a grain of salt.

A pound of cure is worth an ounce of prevention. So, if your dog isn’t suffering any of these problems, take measures to ensure that it stays that way. Let him know when he’s doing a good job putting up with the strange and sometimes terrible things you put him through.