Problems and Solutions

The puppy removes the posting and wrapping

A puppy that scratches at his wrappings will eventually remove them and possibly injure himself in the process. The key to preventing this is training. The key to training is to avoid allow the puppy to experience successful removal of the wrapping. Dobermans are smart. If something proves unsuccessful, they will learn and not try it the same way twice.

If the puppy has just had the cropping procedure, the ears are likely sore. There are mild chewable pain pills available with your veterinarian that will help relieve this.

Be sure that the puppy does not have any infection. If part of the ear is red, puffy, extra warm, or oozing white or green; this may be the case. If an infection is suspected, see the vet as soon a possible. He will administer antibiotics and possibly a topical treatment. Preventing infection is essential. Keep the ear clean and dry. Always replace wrappings and postings if they become loose, wet, soiled, or smelly.

If neither of the above cases applies, the puppy is more than likely just annoyed by the wrapping, just as he would be with dog clothes. Bones and toys are a good way to keep him distracted. Also effective is playing with him until he is tired enough to sleep.

If you see him scratching, give a sharp, “NO!”.  When he stops scratching, praise him. Remember, physical correction at this age, less than six months, is inappropriate and harmful.

A sure way to eventually resolve the scratching urge is an effective wrapping. If the wrapping is snug, without areas for the puppy to catch his nails on, he will learn he is in a no win situation and will accept the wrappings.

One way to shore up the postings and wrappings is to add a wrapping under the head. In the Posting and Wrapping Lesson, this step would be performed after the figure ‘8’ wrapping and before the bridge. Simply continue the figure ‘8’ wrapping around the head, creating something like a chin strap. Be careful not to make it too tight. Then build the bridge, standing the ears properly.

Another trick is to use different kinds of tape. After you have wrapped everything as usual with strong not-very-sticky tape, use a sticky tape over the areas that tend to come unraveled. Duct tape works well, just be sure not to stick it directly to the poor puppy.

Dobermans are especially good about wearing their postings and wrappings. If you are having significant trouble, an E-collar may be in order. This is a plastic round sheet which fits as a collar around the puppy’s neck forming a cone. This cone makes it impossible for the puppy to reach his head with his paws but it looks goofy and is also an annoyance to the puppy.

Difficulty wrapping, the puppy fights

Doberman puppies are ‘stubborn.’ They tend to protest being held still for any amount of time. But this is just one of the many things they must learn. The hard fighting is only in the beginning.

With newly cropped puppies, I always double team them. One person is in charge of holding the puppy with both arms and legs, and steadies the puppy’s head by firmly holding the puppy’s muzzle against his shoulder. Usually the additional assistance of an edge of the sofa is needed as an aide. The other person can dedicate all of his appendages to making a quick and snug wrapping.

The key is to meet the puppy’s resistance with an equal amount of force. The more the puppy fights, the tighter you hang on. If you feel him relaxing, hold on, but not as tight. He will quickly learn. With my puppies, this wrestling match is only necessary the first or second time. Within a week they learn to sit nicely while I fool with their ears. Then they get a treat.

Alos, never let the little wiggle worm get away. He will remember this. If he learns escape is possible, he will try it again but with a whole new level of energy.

Training the puppy not to scratch

Training a puppy not to scratch is less difficult than it may at first seem. Like any training, the key is consistency, not intensity. When you see the puppy scratching, give a sharp ‘NO!’. When he stops, praise him.

A very young puppy may not understand ‘No' so you will need to help him. Give the ‘No’ command and pull the puppy’s paw away, then redirect it to chewing on a toy or a bone, then praise. During the ear cropping age, puppies are also teething, so there should be no shortage of fun things to chew on.

The use of a mild topical pain reliever, like Bactine spray or Neosporin Plus Pain Relief, or an anti-inflammatory like Cortisone cream can usually help. 

Ways to improve and quicken the training process

There are some ways, in addition to wrapping and posting, that will promote standing of the ears. A daily calcium supplement will help build the cartilage as will vitamin C and E. Before administering supplements, a consistent plan should be made with consultation from your veterinarian, and then introduced slowly to avoid an upset tummy. Studies have shown that large breed dogs who are given calcium supplements as puppies are more likely to develop skeletal problems, so Doberman owners should not start a puppy on calcium without consulting their veterinatian.

Also beneficial once the ears have healed and are no longer sensitive, is a nice daily ear massage. The stroking and rubbing will promote blood flow and help to train the cartilage.

The best promoter of standing ears is a happy stress free puppy. Happy stress free puppies are puppies with owners that start training them in proper behavior early and with consistency. Obedience training should not be put on hold in an effort to avoid stressing the puppy. In fact, obedience training is the key to a stress free Doberman puppy and owner.

The training itself is stimulating and the lessons enable the puppy to properly and effectively communicate his needs and wants, both of which will reduce stress.

After wrapping and posting for weeks, the ears stand but then fall down

If you have been wrapping and posting the cropped ears for several weeks or months, they should be showing signs that they intend to stand. If, after removing the wrapping, they stand, you may be finished. However, if within an hour or so they flop down, or especially if they fold over, immediately re-wrap them.

During this period in the puppy’s life, they are teething and Dobermans teethe fast and hard. The pain from teething causes stress, which cycles up and down. The stress can cause the ears to droop when the pain is bad. Once the pain reduces, so will stress and the ears usually come back up. This can happen many times until teething is over.

To be safe, keep the ears wrapped until you are sure they are trained. Remember that cropped ears are not supposed to stand all the time, just when the dog wants them to. However they should never fold down with a crease. Cropping returns the natural abilities of the ear that the long and floppiness takes away.