Help! My dog is not tolerating ear care

Sep 27, 2017Help! My Dog Is...

If your 4-legged housemate refuses to tolerate ear care, you need to work on that, because ear care is important his whole life. Although it’s low maintenance, it has to be done regularly to keep your dog healthy. The goal: you want your dog to tolerate you examine his ears and wipe them gently, if necessary. But how can you realize that when your dog just runs away or starts playing as soon as you are about to check his ears? The following 8 steps explain how to manage that.
Essential & most important: Please always make sure that each ear-care-training session ends with a positive experience for your dog, like lots of extra cuddles. You never want to rush him! You rather would take smaller steps or go one / a few steps back instead of making him run away once. It’s all about building trust and this naturally and simply can’t be quickened. A patiently and love-powered change in behavior is the sustainable one.

8 Steps to Make Your Dog Tolerating Ear Care

1. Exercise & Feed Your Dog

First of all, a tired dog is more likely to tolerate an examination of his ears than a well-rested, hungry and full-of-energy dog. What you need is a calm dog in a sleepy mode. So make sure you’re just back from a long nice walk in the evening, that your dog got some mental exercise as well and, of course, that he is stuffed. It will be way easier for the both of you that way.

2. Be Far-Seeing and Prepared

As it is your goal to have a closer look at your dog’s ears, you need some light (and later some clean clothes). Prepare for that, switch on the light in the area of the room he will have his rest and deposit your cleaning equipment before your dog lays down. When he finally goes to his bed, you are already well prepared without making him nervous by approaching him with headlamp and wipes.

3. Take Small Steps: Pet Ears & Head

When your dog so far refused you to check on his ears, you probably won’t be able to change that at a moment’s notice. You need to take small steps. Start the whole process with something he likes: just pet his ears when he is resting. Laud him with your voice when he stays still and tolerates the touching of his ears. Your dog does not even like to get pets on the ears? Please check with your vet that there is no medical reason for that behavior in the first place. If he is healthy, start with the area around the ears and work your way up to the ears.

4. Always Watch Your Dog Closely

Be mindful and watch him closely. As long as he keeps on lying still and is relaxed, you can intensify the contact with the ears.  When he gets nervous or in motion, stop the ear touching and just stroke him gently on his favorite spot to calm him down again.

5. Be Patient

You should only go one step further when your dog is really comfortable with the last step, so watch him closely read his body language. Be always ready to go one or a few steps back – that’s pretty normal and totally wanted. Be patient. You want your dog to be comfortable with the ear care to make his and your own life much easier.

6. Combine The Pets With a First Glimpse In One Ear

While stroking the ears, try to have a look in the ears by holding one ear in your hand, firmly but smooth between thumb and pointer, and gently expose the whole outer ear and have a short look in it. Don’t just concentrate on your work touching the ear, talk to your dog in a calm and friendly voice and just tell him what you are doing “Hi homie, I’m trying to convince you to tolerate or even like ear care – our life will be better if you will do so.”. If your dog keeps lying still, rewards him again with words and extra strokes.

7. Examine The Outer Ear

This time you expose the outer ear again and look in it for a bit longer, by just having a cotton ball/piece of clean clothes in your other hand (as you are well prepared, you don’t have to get up to get your tools and can keep up the cozy atmosphere). Give it a careful but firm try to wipe the outer ear. That’s exactly what you want him to tolerate. So reward him again with your voice if he is lying still. If your dog gets excited and starts moving and you can’t calm him down with rewarding words, you just go one / a few steps back.

8. Don’t Act Awkwardly

It’s important to not act awkwardly. If you hide your tools behind his back, you will rather arouse his attention then anything else. If he is interested in your equipment, let him have a sniff. There is nothing to hide from him because nothing bad will happen. If you managed to wipe his ears, most dogs are quite keen on sniffing what you just removed from his body. That’s natural and very doggish. Just let him have a sniff at his own earwax and dirt. That will make him feel more comfortable because he kind of understands whats happening.

It’s All About Trust!

I myself made the experience, that dogs love the ear care in the end. Cleaning another dog’s ears is a gesture of affection for dogs, it is a part of grooming and they feel comfortable with that. So use this to your advantage, even if it seems a bit wiggy to us. If you combine it with pets and extra love instead of making it a necessary it-has-to-be-done procedure, it’s rather likely that your dog will enjoy it.

If you need any help with convincing your dog to tolerate ear care, feel free to contact me anytime.

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