How To Brush A Dog’S Teeth That Hates Being Brushed

My dog won’t let me brush his teeth. What should I do to keep his teeth clean and healthy?

If your dog is not a fan of teeth brushing, don’t give up hope yet! From a dog’s perspective, having his/her teeth brushed is not a natural thing. We shouldn’t expect that all dogs will take to teeth brushing easily — some just have to get used to the idea!

Training your dog to the toothbrush is no different than leash training. It takes time, patience and ensuring that each step is perceived as enjoyable and non-threatening by your pet. Be sure to load on the praise and don’t move to the next step unless your dog seems comfortable with it.

The goal is to brush the outside surface of teeth in area where teeth and gums meet. Your brushing efforts should only last for one to two minutes, then discontinue the session. Keep it fun and reward your dog along the way!

What To Do
  1. Step 1 Have your pup sit with you and let him or her see, sniff and lick the toothbrush.
  2. Step 2 Bring out the high quality treat and let your pup bite down on it. …
  3. Step 3 Once your pup puts a death grip on the treat, start brushing! …
  4. Step 4 Even if you can only brush for 10 seconds, congratulations!

Lose the Toothbrush

Don’t start with a toothbrush. For a few days to a week, simply accustom your dog to the idea of your finger(s) in his or her mouth. Lift the dog’s lip and praise him for allowing you to do so. Don’t do this when the dog is sleeping or just finished eating.

Wait until the dog is relaxed, close by, and you have a few treats available to reward. Do this 2 to 3 times a day if possible for a week. Never scold a dog for not cooperating. Positive reinforcement is key. The goal is to make the entire experience rewarding. In fact, praise him like he just won Best in Show at Westminster. Reward with a treat.

How To Brush A DogS Teeth That Hates Being Brushed

Timing and Technique

Congrats! If you made it this far, you are on your way to your dog living a lot longer than he would have without a dental routine in place.

Decide when you are going to brush your dog’s teeth. I recommend doing this once a week until the dog is used to it. We brush a minimum of once daily in our household, usually at night. We also use dental wipes intermittently for good oral hygiene.

According to Dr. Patrick Mahaney, whose dog has an immune system disease, he brushes his teeth daily so the dog has very little infection or inflammation in his mouth.

Never stand above your dog, so she or he does not feel threatened or alarmed. You want the dog relaxed, so try sitting behind her, next to her, or kneeling down in front of her.

Place a small amount of toothpaste on the brush and place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the teeth and slowly brush. Brush in small circles, getting top and bottom on each side. If you are unable to comfortably get the toothbrush behind the tooth (where plaque hides, too), use a finger toothbrush to probe the delicate area.

Dog dental treats are good for getting behind the teeth, too.

Note: Ongoing or heavy bleeding may indicate you are brushing too hard or can be signs of periodontal disease, so seek veterinary assistance. Your vet is also a fantastic resource to show you proper in-person techniques.

Brush a few teeth at a time, working up to more each day. You may need the assistance of a family member or friend until the dog gets used to things. Here’s how we brush our teeth. Note the position, the pose, the way I gently handle my dog’s jowls, and the motion of the toothbrush, which takes us to our next step.

Method 3: Using a Bully Stick

When I researched this article, I found a genius idea on Youtube. The gist of it was, if you have a dog that loves bully sticks, get the dog chewing on a bully stick (wait until it starts to soften so they’re really into it), then brush their teeth as the dog continues to chew/bite the bully stick.

Check it out on this video, I can’t wait to try this with my dogs:

Used with permission of


What do I do if my dog wont let me brush his teeth?

If you can get your fingers in your dog’s mouth, gels offer a great way to coat the teeth with safe and natural cleaning agents. Just apply these gels to your finger and rub gently onto your dog’s teeth for natural slow cleaning. Some gels come in great flavors like peanut butter that your pup will love.

How do I force my dog to brush his teeth?

This positive association will make tooth brushing a breeze in the future. Begin by having your dog sit still for a few seconds, then giving her a treat. Then raise her gums on the left side and give her another treat. Then rub your dog’s gums with your fingers, and—you guessed it—give her another treat.

Is there an alternative to brushing dogs teeth?

Oral Spray And Gels

Sprays and gels are a convenient way to clean your dog’s teeth. They help kill plaque-creating bacteria in between brushing. Plus, they make for a fast and easy way to freshen bad breath. Most sprays are easy to use.

How can I get plaque off my dog’s teeth?

Brushing dogs’ teeth

The best way to remove plaque is to simply brush your dog’s teeth daily with a dog toothbrush and dog-safe toothpaste. Brushing your pooch’s teeth every now and then won’t get rid of a buildup of plaque, but regular brushing will help keep their teeth and mouths healthy.