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.

Watch how we teach a headrest.

Find out more about our Family Dog service and Autism Assistance Dogs.