Dogs love to get dirty, to play in mud and drag their bodies all across your living room floor. Unfortunately that doesn’t make life very pleasant for your or the other occupants of the house, so to ensure home life is harmonious for all, your dog is going to need to adopt a certain level of hygiene.

That, inevitably, comes down to you to enforce. The problem is that dogs aren’t all that willing to let themselves be scrubbed clean; letting someone wash their coat and brush their teeth and clean out their eyes is a big step for them, but with any luck, and a certain level of persistence, you’ll soon win them over.

Here are some tips to guide you.

Start early

This can’t be stressed enough. Giving a dog a new hygiene routine to think about is easiest if you do it when they’re still a pup. As they get older they get fixed in their ways and are more likely to balk at the intrusion; still, even older dogs can be turned around provided you…

…Take it slow

Don’t force anything on your dog. Baby steps are the way to go. Choose times when they are drowsy from exercise – this way they’re less likely to get agitated.

When it comes to brushing teeth, choose a brush specially made for dogs, then hold them still and get to work. If they’re whimpering or showing signs of discomfort, abort the attempt and try again the next day. Bit by bit you’ll start bringing them around to the idea that a little clean can be good for them.

Always use toothpaste for dogs

Your everyday Colgate isn’t going to be suitable for your pup, as it’s got fluoride in it, which can be harmful to canine teeth. Pick up a specially formulated doggy toothpaste to do the job.

Use toys to improve dental hygiene

There are a lot of toys on the market designed to care for your pup’s teeth. Shop around and give them something to gnaw on and play with: it’ll strengthen their teeth and their gums and promote long-term dental health.

Like the dentist, give your dog the chance to rinse afterwards

Keep your dog’s bowl of water nearby so they can wash out their mouth once you’re done.

Care for your dog’s eyes with a cotton ball

Gunk will build up in the corner of your dog’s eyes and can be cleaned using a cotton ball, though it goes without saying that you shouldn’t touch the eyeball itself. Check for any strange looking discharge, or excessive crustiness – these are signs of an infection. If your dog travels with you in the car on the road, close the window you’re driving faster to minimize the risk of something flying into your dog’s eye.

Make baths fun

Not every dog dislikes bath time, but if you’re having trouble getting them into the tub, offer up a sweet reward at the end of it. A toy, a treat, or quality one-on-one time are all good incentives.

Mind the ears and the eyes

You’re not submerging your dog in bath water or dunking them under the water like a human. Use a bucket and a cloth, or the shower hose, to clean them from the neck down, avoiding the eyes and ears entirely. To wash their face, use a cloth.

Dry using a towel, not a dryer – the noise is going to frighten them, and it might irritate their skin. A good towel dry works well enough. They’ll shake themselves dry soon enough anyway.