Some families with a child with autism find teeth brushing challenging, so we work with them and their dogs to help reduce the stress in the household at teeth cleaning times.
Using a headrest can be really effective:
- Whilst head rests or full body rests (for smaller breeds) are great for reducing the intensity of meltdowns, the deep pressure from a rest is also beneficial during relaxing times too
- As long as there is a bond and the child enjoys interacting with the dog, the head rest can be used to “ground” the child in a stress free way. This keeps the child sitting still whilst their teeth are being brushed
- The sensory feedback of the rest, as well as interacting (such as stroking) with the dog, can take the child’s mind off the teeth brushing and distract them
- If the head rest is saved just for teeth cleaning then this can help create positive associations with a challenging time of the day
- Lots of dogs do this naturally so it is a relatively easy intervention to encourage and reinforce.