What is the difference between telling, showing, and teaching when it comes to helping your client care for their dog ears?
- Tell them how to clean ears and they will probably forget.
- Show them how to clean ears, and they will be happy you did it for them.
- Teach them how to clean ears and have them practice and show they got it, and you will be their hero.
You know many clients are stressed when their dog needs ear cleaning and care. And dogs know it and use it to their “stay away from my ears” advantage. If you can teach your clients how to clean ears, demonstrate their new-found skill and have their dogs not mind it so much, that client will follow through with your and your veterinarian’s recommendations and treatment plans.
Having the dog not mind it too much is the key to success. Encourage clients to break down the procedure in incremental steps, not necessarily in order, but small steps so the dog gets used to the ears being handled. Gradually touch more of the ear for a longer period. Use minimal restraint and give dogs a choice of sitting or standing, being on the floor or a table. Dogs can be trained to stand or sit still when they are busy working at treats in chew toys or licking cheese off a pad.
It does help to compare dog and human ear anatomy, as both seem to be a deep dark place of mystery. With models or drawing, if you show how the dog’s ear canal is vertical and then curves to the horizontal, clients won’t get so worried about their dog’s eardrum. And they will understand the importance of filling the ear canal for thorough cleaning.
Here is a list of steps you may teach your clients about cleaning ears.
- Assemble all supplies so they are handy.
- Try to clean ears when the dog is calm; this is not a rodeo.
- Use treats to sweeten the deal – see above.
- Squeeze the ear cleaning solution to fill the dog’s ear canal, except if directions call for a certain number of drops.
- Massage the base of ear for about 30 seconds.
- Listen for a squishy sound.
- Let the dog shake head and opt for a towel to protect yourself from the spray and to wipe the dog’s face.
- Gently wipe out the ear canal with cotton balls, gauze, or soft cloth.
Clients need to be gently advised not to pluck the hair in ears on their own. And they probably do not need to use Q-Tips or swabs. Ask them not to use homemade ear cleaners or hydrogen peroxide. And have them see and smell infected ears so they know when to seek veterinary care.