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Discussion Starter #1
I've been meaning to make this thread for awhile. My dogs HATE having their ears cleaned. They really hate it. Spunky will stand there and tolerate it after she figures out that she's getting them cleaned, no matter what... Honey will actually run from me when I get the solution out, and cringes even more than when she gets shots.

I've tried clicker desensitization; I've tried peanut butter on the wall. (Even Spunky won't go near the peanut butter after she realises she's going to get an ear-cleaning. And for a dog as food-motivated as Spunky, that's saying a LOT.) In the end I just have to insist that they get their ears cleaned by holding them in place and doing the job. It's not forceful by any means, in that they'd still be able to escape, but it's still more force than I'd like.

With this breed I have to be extra vigilant and regular about ear cleanings, so I'd really like to find a solution to this.

The odd part is that they haven't always been this way. They used to actually lie down on their sides so I could clean their ears and I'd actually be able to roll them over on their backs to do the other side. Now I can barely get them to stand in front of me.

I thought it might be the solution, because I started using a new one after the old one was doing nada... the ingredients are witch hazel, deionised water, glycerine, boric acid, tea tree oil, polysorbate 80, echinacea extract and artifical colouring. Isn't witch hazel supposed to be soothing? Or something?

Any thoughts? Is it time for a vet visit? What else should I try to get them used to having their ears cleaned?
 

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rosemaryninja, sorry I don't have any answers for you on this. It's actually a problem I have with one of mine so I'm anxious to see any replies you get. My big GSD is usually so good about letting me do whatever I want with him but when he sees me coming to clean his ears he'll run and cower in a corner and have his ears clinched up so tight I can't even get a finger in one. This is the big goofball that will fall asleep while I clip his nails. Go figure... :rolleyes:

Jihad
and the pound puppy crew.
 

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Are you pouring the solution directly into your dog's ears? If you are, I would stop doing that and instead, pour some solution on a cottonball and gently swab out the ear with it. Some fluid will still make it down into the canal that way, but filling the ear canal with cleaning solution is unnecessary, and many dogs can't stand the sensation.

As for getting the dogs more excited about ear cleaning, it'll take some repetitions work, but I would begin pairing the ear cleaning with your dogs most favorite treat that they'll only get right after ear cleanings are done. You might even break this into steps throughout the days, starting with the appearance of the cleaner (which I would keep out) = treat, then you touching the cleaner = treat, then you picking up the cleaner or a cottonball = treat, calling the dog to you near the cleaner (at a point they will still come to you) = treat, etc. Use a marker word or clicker for the right responses and every so often or as needed for the dog to be successful take a step back and reward for something easier than you've worked up to. Make it all a game instead of an event.
 

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It shouldn't be the witch hazel that's causing the problem. I use a homemade solution of witch hazel, gentian violet, and boric acid and it causes no problems at all. The only thing I could imagine is if the dogs have (or had) an active ear infection and the cleaning caused some pain. The only thing I could think to try is to start from square #1 like you were trying to get them to sit still for it for the first time.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
The only thing I could imagine is if the dogs have (or had) an active ear infection and the cleaning caused some pain.
That is one of my fears right now.

Thanks for the tips on the cotton ball, pamperedpups. I've contemplated that but I'm worried about hurting them by swabbing too hard or too deep. Any tips on that?
 

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I just gently swab the outer ear with the cottonball. If the ear is really dirty you might have to use two or three cottonballs. You can also gently massage the base of the ear to help move the solution that gets in there from the cottonball(s) around. If there is something down in the canal that you can see and would like to remove, if you are VERY careful and your dog is VERY still, you may be able to swab a bit deeper. Be careful when holding the ear back that you aren't so focused on swabbing that you pinch the face or neck or ear back too hard.
 
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