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Tape Training Puppy Ears

By December 15, 2018Puppy Stages

TAPE TRAINING A PUPPY’S EARS TO STAND

The subject of Tape Training the ears of a Bull Terrier seems to come up about every few months on social media and when it does it always ignites a heated debate. I’m confident this blog subject will provide insight into the safe and effective process of Tape Training the Ears on a Bull Terrier. 

Why do people tape the ears of their Bull Terrier Puppy?

The reason is simple, because many Bull Terriers (especially “Bull” type) have heavy ears which often require assistance in training them to stand. Without this training they may not ever stand erect as they should per the Breed Standard. Most people actually want their Bull Terrier to look their best and have the correct appearance.

Why do people tape the ears of their Bull Terrier Puppy?

The reason is simple, because many Bull Terriers (especially “Bull” type) have heavy ears which often require assistance in training them to stand. Without this training they may not ever stand erect as they should per the Breed Standard. Most people actually want their Bull Terrier to look their best and have the correct appearance.

Does taping the ears hurt the puppy or cause unnecessary stress?

Not at all. It’s medical or sports tape just like the same tape a Vet uses when wrapping a leg that had a cut or injury. Consider it like putting a band-aid or ace bandage on a child. This isn’t a cruel act at all. Most would consider it the exact opposite. Those that dedicate to tape training the ears are Bull Terrier owners that are very proud of their puppy and want to ensure their appearance is the best it can be. A puppy throws a fit the first time an owner puts a collar on him or her because they are not used to it. With taping the ears it’s often no different. However, I’ve had many puppies who didn’t bat an eye when the tape was put on and quickly resorted to playing merrily again immediately after.

Is the tape training solely for the purpose of getting the ears to stand up?

No. The objective isn’t just to get the ears to stand erect but it’s also to ensure they stand correctly. The ears of a Bull Terrier when erect should stay straight up like the letter “U” vice off to the sides like the letter “V.”

Why are there people saying that it is unnecessary to tape train the ears and that the ears will go up on their own without any efforts?

This is because their Bull Terriers ears went up just fine as most will. Whether or not they are standing correctly is another story. These owners may also have smaller more “Terrier” type Bull Terriers which often have no issues with the ears standing on their own. People who claim that the ears do not require taping have limited knowledge on the breed and no experience with this subject. Some may not care if the ears don’t go up at all and have no concern about the proper appearance of their Bull Terrier.

Are there any benefits of having the ears up other than achieving the “proper” look?

Yes, it’s healthier for the dog. Not only will the dog hear better having the ears erect but dogs with floppy ears are far more prone to ear issues. Floppy ears are more susceptible to harvesting bacteria and yeast which can cause infection and other issues. If the proper appearance of a Bull Terrier’s ears isn’t a big deal to you maybe alleviating future health issues is, which is another positive advantage of ensuring the ears of your Bull Terrier stand up as they should.

Why are some people saying it’s cruel?

These are ignorant people who have no knowledge at all on the process which poses no harm to the puppy if the tape is applied correctly. The process involves placing a small tube (most use a cardboard tampon applicator) in the ear canal and simply wrapping tape around the ear while the tube creates a foundation. The hollow tube allows for air to get in and out of the ear thus preventing moisture build up and allowing the puppy to hear. The tape is bridged between both ears to allow the ears to form straight up and down. There’s no pressure and no pain at all. Now if we were to bring up pain or discomfort we could speak volumes about other procedures more concerning which would include nail trimming, microchipping, teeth cleaning, etc which are far more stressful than applying tape to the ears. Many of the people complaining about the process of tape training are those who have happily taken their puppy to their Vet in order to have them remove the sex organs on their dog via spay and neuter. If focus of attention is on pain, discomfort, or cruelty maybe it’s time to open your eyes to the reality of other common practices which trump the painless process of tape training. It absolutely amazes me that people turn a blind eye to dew clawing and other procedures conducted which actually do cause pain and run their mouth about a process that is no different than putting a band-aid on a child. Try and remember that there are plenty of breeds which require tail docking and ear cropping and when people see these breeds strutting their stuff in the show ring during a televised event you aren’t seeing too many ignorant people running into the ring to scold their owners and telling them how cruel they are and that they shouldn’t own a dog. The truth is, it’s the owners that are proactive in dedicating their efforts to ensure their dog develops appropriately with the best possible appearance who are the ones that deeply care about their dogs and would go to the four corners of the globe in order to do what they feel is best for their dog.

– How to Tape the Ears on a Bull Terrier Puppy.

There are many different ways to tape train and most of them will prove to be successful. However, our method of taping with sports tape and a cardboard applicator from a tampon has proven to be safest and most productive for achieving success.

The video below was made by Craig and Terri from Bullies of NC (Jacksonville) a few years ago and it remains by best method for ear taping. Although in the video it’s mentioned to leave the tape on for a week but I recommend taking the tape off after 24 hours and allowing the puppy to use its muscles in the ear to keep the ears erect. If one or both ears flop repeat the process and continue to do so until the ears remain erect for good. 

  • Sports tape is strong enough to stay on the ears and easy enough to take off without pulling much hair off. 
  • The cardboard applicator is perfect size and shape for the puppy’s ear. 
    • The cardboard applicator is hollow which allows the puppy’s ear to vent so air can get in out which prevents moisture and prevents the risk of yeast and ear infection. 
    • The hollow cardboard applicator also allows the puppy to hear better than solid dowels that I see other people using. 
    • In the rare chance if ingestion, cardboard would be far safer than other plastic or sponge type dowels used in the ears. 
    • Knox Gelatin is a great supplement for helping harden the cartilage in the ears. Woman have often used this product for strengthening their nails. Knox Gelatin is also a popular ingredient in many weight gain recipes for dogs. I add one package of the Gelatin in the puppy’s food daily while tape training. 

Here is the same puppy in the video one week after Tape Training: