How to get your dog into a daily toothbrushing routine?

Text and photos by Jure Pribičevič, Alfakan

1. Start training toothbrushing in a quiet and neutral environment

Your dog needs a quiet and neutral environment to be able to focus on learning with you. In an environment full of (new) smells, other dogs and unknown people, it will be difficult for your dog to concentrate on what you want from him.

2. Train when your dog is calm

Before you and your dog start learning how to brush the teeth, go for a walk with him. Let him “burn” that excess energy to help him stay calm and focused on learning during training.

3. Food is a reward

In training, food should be a reward for the dog and your dog’s positive motivation. If the dog doesn’t want to take food from you, you will have a hard time training and you need to take care of this step first.

4. Start slowly and progress gradually

Do not rush and do not skip the steps in the learning process!

Step 1: your dog is focused on you and takes the food you offer him.

Step 2: start touching your dog’s face and muzzle – keep doing it while rewarding him with food.

Step 3: start lifting your dog’s lips and gently opening the mouth – keep doing it while rewarding him with food.

Step 4: start touching your dog’s teeth – keep doing it while rewarding him with food.

Step 5: get the toothbrush and start touching your dog’s teeth alternately with your finger and the toothbrush – keep doing it while rewarding him with food.

Step 6: keep touching your dog’s teeth only with the toothbrush.

Keep rewarding your dog often at the beginning of this training and reduce the rewarding while you progress towards your daily routine.

How long it will take you and your dog to get into a daily toothbrushing routine depends on a number of factors, such as how well the dog is prepared for the learning process, what are your skills, how old the dog is and what his experience is. The most important is not to skip the steps in the learning process; if your dog is not sovereign in a step, go one step back and train more.  Usually, however, such a learning process takes at least 14 days to 1 month.

The goal is to brush the teeth for at least 30 to 60 seconds on each side of the mouth every day – without opening the mouth of the animal and with just lifting the lips, a tooth brush is placed at a 45° angle to the tooth and circulated over the dental surfaces with moving the bristles away from the gum.

Jure Pribičevič was gaining his knowledge and experience for more than a decade while working with his rescue dogs in Slovenia and abroad, and has proved his excellence at several world championships. Then, in 2010, Alfakan‘s story was born – together with his team they train and retrain dogs at home and abroad. Their training is based on knowledge from sports kinology and translated into “everyday and everyone” use. For Alfakan a good relationship and harmony between the guide (the owner) and the dog, supported by positive motivation, are the base for the training success. Jure for himself says that his greatest success is pursuing his dreams and goals, helping people and dogs with his knowledge and experience to live a better life – that is exactly the enthusiasm for work and sharing that attracted me when I recently first met Jure.