Cleaning a dogs ears can be one of the more irritating dog tasks during the course of dog ownership. This can be changed, like most dog behavior though. Once you acquire your dog, you should start training him for ear cleaning. It takes time to earn their trust.
Dogs are very sensitive about people touching places like the inside of their ears or their nails. These are apparently two parts of the dogs personal space bubble.
Would you believe that if I said you could train a dog to actually like having his ears touched and cleaned? Well you can.
Dogs can have their behavior modified just as easily as people can, if not easier.
Handling a Dog's Ears
You should start slow when it comes to cleaning a dog's ears. Do not wait until a whole bunch of gunk has made it's way into their ears either. This part of a dogs behavior modification takes time and patience.
To start the process, gently rub the outside of the dogs ear. Massage the outside for about five minutes each day. Unless your dog has some sort of infection already, this should not be an issue, the dog will think it is just being petted.
After a few days of this, pinch the ear between your index finger and thumb and begin to massage the inside of their ear. Your dog will like this less. Do this for five to ten minutes a day and provide some positive reinforcement after you finish. A simple 'good boy!' will suffice, but a treat will work better. You should do this every day, maybe even a few times a day, for about a week or two.
Eventually your dog will start to expect it. Now do it every other day for a week, and continue to give your dog a treat after each time.
Now you should have your dog fully conditioned to like having their ears touched. When you or your vet clean their ears, make sure to have a treat handy to continue this admirable behavior.
Get to Know your Dog's Ears
Now that your dog seems to enjoy having their ears handled, you should get to know them. If your dog has big floppy ears, they will need to be cleaned more frequently. Dogs with upright and pointed ears, wether from breeding or from ear cropping, need less cleaning. A dog with pointed ears has better air circulation in their ears making them develop less wax.
While the pointed ear will develop less wax, it still needs to be clean every few weeks. Big floppy ears are recommended to be cleaned once a week.
If your dog has a lot of hair growing inside the ear, you may have to do some additional grooming. Your vet will recommend plucking the hair and can be requested to do it. You can pluck the hair yourself, but can be uncomfortable and even painful to your dog if done wrong. This will undo all your hard work you did getting them to let you touch their ears. The ear hair can also be trimmed to be shorter with a pair of small nail scissors. One thing you should never do is use a small pair of electric clippers like your would use on your nose hair. The buzzing noise is extremely unnerving to sensitive dog ears, they will not like this. Be careful to make sure none of the trimmed hair slips further into the ear canal.
Check your dogs ears frequently. If their ears appear to be red and irritated or your dog is shaking their head a lot, consult your veterinarian. Those two warning signs are signs of an ear infection, perhaps even an allergic reaction to your ear cleaning solution.
If your dog is a frequent table food eater, they can get yeast infections in their ears. Some dogs are more prone to this than others. A yeast infection will look like it does in a human, a white sort of cheesy looking gunk will appear in their ears and it will make them itch terribly.
Your vet can give you a cream to rub in there that will clear it up, however, this infection can be spread to other dogs if your dog rubs it around on the floor or your furniture.
Cleaning your Dog's Ears
Consult your veterinarian on a proper ear cleaning solution for your dog. Once you have the solution, you should clean the dogs ears once a week or at very least once a month. This will help you recognize what a healthy dog ear looks like and you will be able to notice when something odd appears in them.
Anyway, back to the cleaning.
Squirt the cleaning solution into the dog's ear. Make sure to never force the nozzle into the ear canal, it can damage the ear. Once you have squirted it into the ear, massage the base of the dog's ear on the outside to encourage the solution to flow into the rest of the ear. If your dog does not like having this solution squirted in their ear, try warming it up to room temperature. If the ear solution is too warm or too cold, your dog will respond negatively to it.
After this, use a dampened cotton ball to clean the ear. Your can use this cotton ball to clean all the way to the tip of the ear, but change the cotton ball frequently so as to not spread the wax and debris around.
Your can use a Q-tip to get into the crevices of the dog's ear, however much like the rules of cleaning a human ear, you should not put the Q-tip in the ear canal.
If your dog have floppy ears, flip them up after cleaning to allow the solution to dry. If your dog has pointy ears, they will dry easily on their own. If your dog has furry ears, makes sure you remove the fur before cleaning. It is just one less thing your have to clean and it will help you get at the skin underneath.