Thursday, September 07, 2006

How To Administer Ear Medication for Your Dog - Painlessly

By Aidan Bindoff
Has your dog ever had an ear infection? Likely your vet will have prescribed ear medications for treatment or prevention of future ear infections.

The problem with ear medications is that they can be quite uncomfortable for your dog, the medication often needs to be administered in liquid form directly into the ear canal.

Your dog may find this uncomfortable and start avoiding you, or even becoming aggressive towards you.

If your dog becomes aggressive, consult with your vet and seek help from a competent behavioral trainer knowledgeable in desensitisation and counter-conditioning. Avoid anyone who suggests punishing your dog for this behavior.

If the problem is only mild, then you can begin this simple and effective desensitisation procedure yourself.

Have some small, yummy treats ready. Do this exercise before a meal, not after. The exercise involves forming a positive association with the ear medication and having the ear touched by pairing with yummy treats (for more information, Google "Pavlov").

The first step is to have your dog used to having his ears handled - without medication. Touch the outside of his ear and give a treat, do this a few times. Then touch the inside of the ear and give a treat. Don't stick your finger into the ear canal, just touch the actual ear and give a treat. Do this a few times, as many times a day as you can. Gently massage your dogs ears if he likes it, tell him how good he is!

When your dog seems to enjoy having his ears touched, show him the medicine bottle and give a treat. You can do this a number of times.

Next, leave the lid on the medicine bottle and touch the inside of his ear with it, then give a treat. This step is probably the most critical, particularly if your dog has already had ear medication and doesn't like it.

Now we get to the point where we need to administer some medication. I would suggest you administer just a small amount unless your vet insists upon a full dosage all in one go. Feed treats while you administer the medication, and after. Now tell your dog how proud you are while you gently massage the outside of his ears (if he enjoys having his ears massaged, of course, we are building positive associations!)

Remember to keep it positive, don't move ahead too fast, and give plenty of treats and praise as you go!

Aidan Bindoff is intensely interested in dog behaviour and training and works to remediate fearful, anxious and aggressive dogs in Australia. He also runs the Training Levels list providing a step-by-step program for people training their own dog. For more information visit


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