Old Mission Ear Taping 101
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There are 100's of ways to tape ears, each have their benefits and drawbacks. We've tried everything over the years and have learned through trial and error the easiest and most successful methods. The first ingredient to success is a artfully cropped ear. A bad crop is harder to tape, presents with more complications and takes longer to stand. Please only use a very experienced vet who is highly recommended for Great Danes. All our dogs are cropped "3/4 length with a curve" for the style.
Products we use, all can be purchased on Amazon.com
Zonas 1" porous tape
Hypafix 2" porous hypoallergenic tape (for dogs with tape allergies and young puppies first few tapings)
Unisolve liquid adhesive remover
3/4" Foam backer rod (closed cell)-use up until 3 or so months
1" Foam backer rod (closed cell) 3 months-Adult
Dr Scholl's medicated foot powder (in stores)
First things first, take the old tapes down and clean the ears. To remove old tapes, put a light coating of unisolve adhesive remover on the tapes, no need to drench them. Be careful not to get any in the dogs eyes. Let soak for about 20-30 seconds. If you let set too long the glue comes off the tape and sticks in the fur and creates a mess, you want the tape to come off cleanly as possible. Use a cotton ball with unisolve on it to remove any remaining glue or sticky residue. (we do not recommend any other products such as goof off etc, they are very irritating)
We only leave ears down for a couple hours tops, especially at first when they don't stand very long. Soon as they show any signs of flopping they go right back up in tapes. Any flopping is undoing any progress and setting you back. The ears may stand for awhile and flop more/sooner when teething and growth spurts, don't get discouraged.
Before putting tapes back up, use a cotton ball and rubbing alcohol and clean the inside and outside of the ears to remove oil and wax so the ears are clean and tape sticks better.
Before grabbing the puppy, first get everything together and ready to go and within reach. I use a grooming table the first few months until they are too large. If taping with no help, alternatively you can sit Indian style holding them with your legs or standing over them holding them still with your legs, or tying them up with a leash. Give them a special bone to keep them occupied and lots of praise.
Powder the 'fold' of the puppy's ear, this is optional and most beneficial when its hot and humid out. The skin pressing together with no air flow causes that area to get goopy at times. If its a regular problem, you can use a torn off piece of cotton ball or small piece of cotton makeup remover pad to put in the fold also to prevent skin to skin contact.
Put the Zonas tape around the backer rod in a normal direction once, then reverse direction so its sticky side out, and continue all the way up the backer rod so its sticky side out all the way up (do this before you grab the dog preferably)
Put the foam rod resting on top of the 'bump' in the ear as pictured, stretching upward taught as you go.
We do not put the rod down inside the ear, we have never once found it necessary with our methods and crops.
Start the tape sitting just below the rod, (about 1/4 of the width of the tape should be below the rod) facing to wrap in the same direction as the fold, towards the inside of the ear. Wrap around taught but not tight. The first rotation, as your coming around the ear, make sure the bell is cupped around the backside well before making the first full rotation as pictured. Then continue all the way around until the entire ear is enclosed and squeeze all around with your hands to attach everything well. (puppies first few tapings we only do a strip at the top and bottom at first to keep a better eye on things)
If your foam rod pops out at the bottom or ears tip inward, your rod or tape is placed too high, or your tape is too loose, or you are using the wrong size backer rod for your dog
Place your thumb over the end of the ear, then cut off the excess (alternatively, measure the rods before putting tape around them, but we always forget)
Now onto the 'bridge'
The bridge is usually just needed until 4-5 months old. After the dog can hold its taped ears up at attention on its own, its no longer needed. You want the bridge to be just a tad loose enough for the dog to 'work' its ears, to build up strength. Otherwise you will just handicap the dog and set him back.
Start in the same place and way as the first tape that went around the ear, about 1/4 of the width of tape should be below the foam rod. Attach the tape to the inside center of the ear, then go across to the other ear attaching at the inside center of that ear, then go around the ear low just under the foam rod, then back around to the other side, don't securely attach everything just yet, leave some play to get it 'just right' beforehand. You don't want the ears to turn in or out or be off kilter, you want them both to be sitting centered correctly and straight. If you mess it up, its easy to remove the tape and adjust.
The ear taping should last about a week. If they get wet, it rains, someone is licking it, etc it will need to be changed asap. The tape is cotton and will shrink and cut into the ear and if left wet things will fester under the tape.
When you remove tapes they should be put back up asap, especially young pups who's ears fall very quickly. We do not let them flop at all, first sign of flopping they go right back up. Any flopping sets you back in progress.