1. Get your dog used to the motions of having its teeth brushed. Once or twice a day for the first few weeks, massage its lips with your finger using small circular motions for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat the motions for teeth and gums.

2. Introduce toothpaste once your dog is used to the motions. Placing a small portion of toothpaste on its mouth will help it get used to the taste.

3. Next, try using its toothbrush when going through the motions. Once you feel that your dog has sufficiently adjusted to the routine, you can commence actual brushing.

4. For ideal results, brush teeth at a 45-degree angle, working on one area at a time, and lifting your dog’s lip when necessary.

5. More tartar is accumulated on the side facing the cheek―use a final downward stroke to remove it. The inner surface of the tooth attracts less tartar, so there’s less of a need to force brushing in this area if your dog violently objects to it.

This story appeared in Animal Scene’s April 2015 issue.