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How To Train Your Dog To Clean His Teeth
How do you teach a dog to brush his own teeth?
Dogs are born with a natural instinct to chew on things. Chewing is a natural way to keep their teeth clean and their gums healthy.
Dog owners often discourage chewing behavior when their puppy chews on things they shouldn’t.
When you catch your dog chewing on something they shouldn’t chew on, say, “No,” in a firm voice and replace the object with a toy they are allowed to chew on. When they start to chew on the appropriate toy praise them and let them know that is good behavior.
Make sure they have several toys to chew on in a variety of materials. Puppies need softer rubber toys, ropes and fabric toys to chew on. Their teeth are smaller and they can't get their mouths around large chew toys.
As they grow and get older they will need tougher chew toys that can’t be eaten.
Make sure to always give them something they are allowed to chew on and when they start to chew praise them and let them know that chewing is okay it’s just the object they had before that is bad.
Bad Chewing Habits
Some dog owners make the mistake of giving their dog an old shoe or other discarded item to chew on. Your dog can’t tell the difference between a good shoe you are still wearing and an old one. They smell the same to him.
Never allow shoes, an old football or tennis ball become a chew toy or they will go for your good ones thinking they also belong to them.
Throw away worn out toys
Fabric toys or ropes eventually start to come apart and your dog will bite off pieces and eat them. This isn’t good for your dog. They can choke on loose pieces and some can become stuck in their esophagus or colon. When you notice they are starting to fall apart take the toy away. This is usually best done when they aren’t watching because they get attached to their things and don’t want to part with them even when they are disintegrating. Try to distract them with another toy, maybe a new version of the same one if you can find it. Then when they aren’t looking throw the old one away.
Even tough rubber toys eventually start to deteriorate and pieces will come off. You don’t want your dog to eat these so try to keep an eye on their toys so you can replace and discard them when worn out.
How to get a dog to chew on toys
If you get a dog when he is young it is easier but an older dog can usually be encouraged to chew on toys. Play with them with the toy for a few minutes and before they get too tired let them have it. They will usually chew on it for a little while. When you see him chewing praise him and say something like, “Good chew” or whatever you decide just be sure to be consistent. Using the same words all the time helps him understand what you are saying. Dogs learn words but using too many can confuse him so be consistent in your vocabulary.
Dog breeds that chew
Some breeds tend to be more into chewing than others but they all have that instinct. I had a Boston terrier that lived to be 14 ½ years old. He kept all of his teeth until the end and they were very clean. The veterinarian always thought I brushed his teeth but I never did. I told my vet my dog loved toys and enjoyed chewing so he kept his own teeth clean.
I buy toys from a reputable shop like PetSmart or Petco. I've read there have been toys from China that had lead in the paint. As long as you purchase toys from a good company like Kong or others you recognize you should be fine.
Most of our goods are made in China so just because it's made in that country doesn't mean it's bad. It's the company that sets the standards so keep with good names and you should be fine.
Putting Food or Treats in Dog Toys
Be careful when you do this. It's a good way to encourage chewing but if your dog can't get to the food and it stays in there for days it can go bad and make your dog sick. Some dogs have a harder time getting to the treat and can become frustrated.
Personally, I don't do this but if you decide to buy those toys or try hiding treats watch for spoiled food or a frustrated dog. If he becomes too discouraged he won't want to play with that toy at all no matter how much you paid for it.
Your dog won't know the difference between an expensive toy from PetSmart or a cheap piece of rope you bought at the hardware store and tied knots in.
There are even instructions online for homemade toys you can make from recycled items around the house.
I buy polyester rope by the foot at Lowe's or Home Depot and keep the extra on a hook out in the garage. I cut off about six feet and tie knots in it. Then I take a candle lighter, a cigarette lighter, a gas burner will also work, and light the ends to melt them together. Don't burn it too long, just enough to seal the ends. This will keep it from fraying too soon and lengthen the life of your dog's chew rope. Relight the ends if you notice they start to fray.
When your puppy is young you can buy used toys at a second hand store for your puppy to chew on. Most are safe since they are made for children and your puppy won't care if it is used.
Baby chew toys, rubber toys, balls and even small stuffed toys make good choices for your puppy. Just watch for signs of wear and when they start to come apart toss them out.
Some dogs aren't as hard on toys so even when they get older this may still be a good option for inexpensive toys.
Bones from the Butcher
Never give your dog poultry bones because they splinter and get caught in our dog's esophagus as well as intestines causing internal bleeding.
Bones that are good for your dog are beef and buffalo bones. There are others but these two I know are safe and my dogs have all enjoyed them over the years.
Make sure they are size appropriate. A smaller bone will be best for a little dog. When they are small they can make a bone last a long time but when they grow up they can eat bones much faster.
Bones give them calcium as well as help clean their teeth.
You can sometimes get them free or for a cheap price at your local butcher shop. Sometimes they are labeled “soup bones”. If you get the kind with a bit of meat still on them it is best to cook them first. Some people don’t since dogs have strong enzymes in their stomachs that can digest raw meat but if they don’t eat the meat quickly enough and it spoils it can cause them to get sick as well as have an unpleasant odor.
Most Dogs Love To Chew
Chewing is a natural instinct they enjoy. It gives them something to do as well as helping keep their teeth and gums healthy. If you don't discourage this behavior and encourage good chewing your dog will keep their teeth well past their senior years keeping them healthier.
This girl is a bit goofy but she makes a really cool dog toy that is easy and uses items you already have around the house.