4 ideas for training voluntary ear flushes [with Chirag Patel]

Recently we were super lucky to have the fantastic Chirag Patel join us live within the Animal Training Academy membership to answer all of our member’s questions! The session went for over 2 hours, and we discussed a vast range of topics! One of my favourite conversations was when a member asked Chirag about ways to split criteria when getting to the point of actually introducing fluid into the ear canal [for ear flushes]. 

Chirag kindly contributed four awesome ideas, and so I thought I would share these with you below;

Getting to the point of introducing liquid into the air during this cooperative care procedure can be challenging for both human and animal learners. Liquid going directly into the ear can be aversive & it can be challenging to find a reinforcer to counteract that but here are four ideas to try; 

  1. Rather than using a liquid, first, introduce different temperatures to the dog’s ear [slightly warmer or slightly cooler].
    • For example, taking a bit of tissue and touching an ice cube and/or something warm for a second.
    • Never add a temperature [or anything else] that will be harmful to the learner!
  2. Rather than using a liquid, first, introduce different sensations [Chirag gave credit to Ken Ramirez for this idea].
    • For example, with blood draws – Rather than focusing on the blood draw and always being the needle’s prick, teach the animal that ‘something is going to change]. Maybe a toothbrush, an electric toothbrush, a toothpick, touch of a trainer, a mobile phone and/or anything else you can think of!
    • In this situation the animal learns; sensations >>> engage in a response >>> reinforcement
    • Over time introduce the needle [or the liquid for ear flushes]
  3. Use a damped tissue
    • Starting with maybe one drop on the tissue, then two, then three
  4. Do a drop at the top of the ear but catch it before it goes further!

This inspirational discussion was just one of many from the two hours we spent together & the full replay is now available in the ATA membership library. In fact we now have 130+ live class replays stored in the members only library! As ATA member Whitney Buchman say “It is hands down the most cost effective method for continuing education”

Registration for full membership is unfortunately currently closed, however you can be the first to know when we re-open our doors [during our limited enrolment periods] by joining the waitlist >>> HERE

We look forward to seeing you on the inside!

Best Regards
Ryan Cartlidge
Animal Training Academy

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