Tooth brushing tricks for your dog
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First, select a canine toothpaste. Your vet may have a recommendation. (Remember, dogs won't gargle or spit the toothpaste out like us, so their tooth cleaners must be safe to swallow). Thankfully, the doggie toothpastes come in palatable flavors. Since Bichon breeds may be "more selective" than many others, be ready to try more than one flavor!
Begin by letting your dog taste a little toothpaste from your finger. It is essential to discover a toothpaste flavor that your little one likes!
When you've found a flavor "of choice," call your buddy and use a lick of toothpaste from your finger as a reward. Do this several times for a couple of days.
Next, let your doggie lick the toothpaste from a toothbrush. (Studies show that a brush is more effective than a "finger-cot" for cleaning a dog's teeth). "Human" toothbrushes work great, are cost effective, and the handles provide excellent leverage. "Soft" bristles are recommended. Although Bichon mouths are small, it is very easy to scissor the bristles to create the ideal brush size.
During this period, practice placing your pooch on a counter where you'll be brushing teeth. Hand-feed tasty treats so that being on the counter is fun. (For secure footing use a rubber-backed mat on the counter).
Progress to "playing" tooth-peek-a-boo. Quickly and gently raise the lip to reveal a tooth, praise and treat.
Once this is happily accomplished, add a quick, light tooth-touch with your finger. Praise and treat.
Progress to touching teeth on both sides of the mouth before giving a treat.
Next, add a lick of toothpaste from the brush to the chain of events on the counter.
Once this is easily accomplished, play tooth-peek-a-boo on 1 tooth using the toothbrush with a little toothpaste.
When you can touch several teeth with the brush, it's time to begin an actual brushing procedure. Imagine dividing the mouth into 4 sections: front left, front right, back left, and back right. Do one quick, light "swipe" in each of the 4 sections. Gradually add a "swipe" each day until you can brush each section at least 6 - 10 times.
Once your little buddy is completely happy with brushing, he'll probably begin to gnaw at the brush while you're cleaning the back teeth. This actually assists with the cleaning process, but it shortens the life of the toothbrush. Just trim the bent bristles off with scissors to stretch the effective life of the toothbrush. (Consider making toothbrush purchases at places like "The Dollar Store" so that you can replace them easily and cheaply.)
From start to finish, tooth brushing should take less than 2 minutes. Isn't that a tiny price to pay for the health benefits that result!?!