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We have a new lab puppy, Honey, who is about 7 months old and a dream to train, she catches on easily to everything we have taught her with the help of tasty doggy treats. However, from the beginning she has been really freaky about letting anyone mess with her ears. She does let us pet her head, look in her mouth, generally manhandle her everywhere EXCEPT the ears. When she was much smaller she got an ear infection as labs are prone to do, and she absolutely refused to submit to any cleaning drops or antibiotic drops without a big fight. It took two adults to get that medicine administered, and if she gets another infection, she is now far too large and strong to simply hold still.

It is so bad that if she even thinks we are looking in her ears (no,really), like if her ears get flipped up on their own and I try to get close enough to just LOOK down in there to see how much dirt/wax there is, she starts the o-no-you-don't backing up to run away! If, however, the ears are flipped up and I just pet her head and surrounding area, behind her ears, etc. she's fine.

I have tried to recondition her with holding a treat in my hand and letting her lick it while I just touch her ear. There was no flipping the ear up, of course nothing poked in the ear, just gentle touch on the outside of the ear, but she still took off after about 1 minute, and wouldn't come near me again for awhile. So I am out of ideas, other than to perhaps try this again with really, really good treats like chicken instead of the dog treats...

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to desensitize her? This is our first flop-eared dog and we know that we should be checking and cleaning her ears regularly to keep the infections to a minimum, but she has made that impossible. We are also concerned that her ears may be bothering her lately, as she is shaking her ears a lot (but no scratching or clawing like the previous infection).

Thanks for any tips, -Lisa
 

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It sounds like you're going about it the right way.

Try to wear her out, if possible. (With a young lab, that should only take 6-8 hours.) Then get on the floor with her and distract her with high-value treats. (Which could be almost anything for a lab.)

Don't even try to wrestle her into submission. (But you knew that.)

It will be a gradual process and each session should be followed with high praise and reward.

Lots of us have to go through the same ritual to trim our dogs' nails.

And you're right. A lab's ear are especially prone to infection - especially if the are swimmers. (You ARE going to take your lab swimming, right? That's an excellent way to tire her out - weather permitting.)
 

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We had a toy poodle who got ear infections throughout his life. Plucking the hair from his ears and ear drops were a fight at first. We found a trick that worked for us....peanut butter smeared on the ceramic wall. We let him lick the peanut butter while we worked on his ears. It got to the point that we could have put a fire hose down his ear and it wouldn't faze him. Go slow, start out by just lifting the ear flap, next time rubbing the ear flap, next time ear drops.
 

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I have a mutt I think Rottie/Chow mix that is always having problems with his ears. I used to have to take him to the vet to get sedated to let me put drops in his ears. But I recently found this thing on yahoo answers that mounts under your pointer finger. Usually I am able to slip it in while I am massaging his ears sometimes I have to hold his head while I am using it but it is sooo much easier because now I have two free hands to use and my dog doesnt always know its coming cuz it is kinda discreet under my finger.

But all I do is load it, start petting his ears, slip my finger in and flex it which drops the drops in. If he knows its coming then I have to hold his head still and do it more quickly, thats why I eventually had to get two of em so I could do it at the same time on each side. Anyways I was only able to find it at fingerdrip.com. Says its patent pending so it must be new
 
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