Sep 01 2012


Penny’s dental hygiene story is told in her owner’s own words:

Penny is a six year old Shiba Inu and German Shepard mix. She was found as a stray approximately when she was a year old. There was no evidence that she had been living with anyone for a very long time, as such her bush living seemingly produced a temperament and disposition akin to a wild and defiant dog. Her story illustrates her dental hygiene regiment and how it can help educate others achieve the same with their dogs. To be sure, although you may believe performing a dental hygiene session on your dog is an otherwise daunting task, it really isn’t the case at all. In fact, keeping Penny’s teeth pearly white takes about 15 minutes a day.


Quite simply, I follow a two stage fifteen minute task list.

My Success with Penny’s Dental Hygiene Regiment is …

To Use an Effective and Consistent Teeth Brushing Method & Perform It Regularly

 Materials I Require:
1. Toothbrush (manual or electric)
2. Toothpaste
3. Wash cloth


My success with Penny is fundamentally based on teaching her to associate teeth brushing with the excitement of feeding time. And alongside that teaching, I trained her to allow her teeth to be brushed by reinforcing her trust in me that she won’t be hurt but instead lovingly pampered. In short, I taught and trained Penny to think about the whole teeth cleaning process as one beautiful moment in time where she gets pampered, that is, she receives direct verbal stimulation, a physical rub down and massage, gobs of tasty toothpaste smeared all over her teeth and mouth, and the all out sensation of being completely paid attention to.


  1. Once you and your dog are comfortable with the process of regular dental hygiene, then you should not vary from those proven procedures.
  2. Regular dental hygiene cannot be allowed too great of time lapses in between brushings for risk of sending forward progress backwards.
  3. Any type of successful prolonged contact with your dog is fundamentally based on being calm and patient: Whatever your demeanor is your dog will pick up on and react-respond to it in almost like manner. For example, if you are angry, impatient and/or forceful your dog will most likely react-respond by being unruly, disobedient, pushy, and possibly vicious perceiving you as a danger and/or threat. Therefore …

    Caution: Conducting dental hygiene with an angry disposition may result in an increased risk of being seriously bitten.


The 2-Stage Teeth Brushing Process


Stage 1: Setting the Stage

Time required: 2-5 minutes. Collect your dog and set him or her up on your couch, bed or floor; somewhere that will support your dog’s full body length. Begin by talking to your dog. How? Tell your dog about your day just as if you were speaking to a listening friend. While your talking to your dog use your hands to accomplish six very important steps. By physically scanning (from most obvious to least obvious) your dog’s body, you will be looking for “irregularities” or scanning for anything that doesn’t look or feel right. You are looking for:

1. missing fur
2. dried or matted “stuff” attached to the fur and/or skin
3. cuts, burns and/or rashes or discoloured skin
4. parasites (insects) attached to the fur and/or skin

And, while you are physically and visually scanning around your dog’s fur, you are equally gently massaging and taking notice of:

5. hard spots (areas that feel tight, hard or solid )
6. recording where exactly on your dog’s body she or he shows discomfort (growls, yelps, moans, gives a deep sigh, twitches or gets up and leaves) when touched

Stage 2: Brushing Teeth

Time required: 10 minutes. In sequential order conduct the following eight (8) steps.

1. Apply moderate amount of toothpaste to toothbrush and give to your dog while asking if she or he likes it.
2. Apply generous amount of toothpaste to toothbrush and cover it all over the top and bottom of one side of the mouth.
3. Apply generous amount of toothpaste to toothbrush and cover it all over the top and bottom of the other side of the mouth.
4. Apply generous amount of toothpaste to toothbrush and fully brush all teeth – always break every 5-15 seconds for the dog to swallow.
5. Repeat steps 2 and 3.
6. Repeat step 4.
7. Repeat step 1.
8. Wash your dog’s face and give him or her a “big thank you” – use a release word or phrase (to indicate the session is over) like “good girl” or “good boy”.

With respect to the question of how to keep the dog’s mouth open when your working, simply use your fingers as spreaders. This is the most difficult aspect of the whole dental hygiene procedure, and this is why with practice these sessions will go so easily. In my case, I keep my bottom two fingers pushing down on Penny’s bottom jaw, while my top two fingers hold up her top jaw. With my right hand I brush her teeth. Remember never force their mouth to stay open, and if they want to close their mouth, pay close attention, because it is most likely that they want to swallow.

Note: For those super-quick nights/days where you have very little time to complete steps 1-8, you can always just combine step 1 into step 2 and commence immediately, then skip steps 5-7 and proceed directly to step 8. Remember however, if you are acting like you are in a real hurry, your dog will reflect your haste with anxiousness; to be blunt, your dog may bite you believing your haste (hurry) is aggression and therefore a threat.

  So, please keep in mind it doesn’t matter what the size of your dog is, its temperament, or even how cute it is, she or he may at any time, while your fingers and hand are in very close proximity to their mouth, pose a risk of severely damaging you – dogs can sever your fingers from your hand … Therefore, DO NOT attempt to brush any dog’s teeth that you have not come to know and are very familiar with. Again, you are putting a lot of trust into your dog not to harm you while your fingers are in their mouth. For this reason alone, you must always remember when dealing with dogs:

1. To be patient & calm, attentive yet confident, and happy.
2. Never waste a dog’s time – no dog has infinite patience, so execute the procedure with military precision.
3. Always pay attention to what the dog is telling you. If he or she is trying to tell you that they are uncomfortable (either because of your demeanor and/or any other reason) — listen and stop!
4. Be consistent often and once you and the dog find your groove don’t change it.

Remember that what is important is getting your dog’s teeth brushed so if it should be that you are unable to get this done after your dog’s last meal and treat(s) for the day (ideally), then brush your dog’s teeth at whatever time you can – it really doesn’t matter when you get it done, just get it done as often as possible without too many days lapsing in between.

In closing, I should point out that after teeth brushing you can expect your dog to feel wonderfully refreshed, so much so that, as in my case, Penny gets a wee bit goofy.

riversideadmin | Pet Of The Month

2 thoughts on “Penny”

  1. Amanda Demidoff says:

    WOW Penny has beautiful teeth! What a great story of a dog who was once a stray… she’s super cute 🙂

  2. Ed Zirbel says:

    very good post, i certainly love this website, keep on it

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