BY Donna Sater

If you have a good farm store or 'large animal' vet nearby, you can purchase cattle glue...Tag Cement or it sometimes comes with Shut Eye patches for cattle for when they have pinkeye. It is very sticky, so you will need some sort of adhesive remover to use on your fingers when working with the gluek, and as an emergency method to remove them, if there should be some sort of allergic reaction (which would be rare and unexpected). I like to use D-Solv-It, and it is a good, safe, citrus based product for many other uses. You can make trainers out of the gray/black pipe insulation or I previously used Goody pink foam hair curlers in the extra large size. If their ears are large, the pipe insulation type is better, and easy to cut and shape to the size and shape of the ear.

You will also need a roll of Johnson and Johnson 1 inch athletic tape (white, the kind with tiny holes you can see when you hold it up to the light).

Here are the instructions

Directions for Inserting Trainers in German Shepherd Puppy Ears

Begin with ears that are clean and dry. Buy the Extra Large Goody pink foam hair rollers. They have a plastic center clasp. Remove the clasp. I insert a pencil into the hole to help hold the roller while I glue it. The glue we use is found at a large animal vet or some feed stores, and is called Shut Eye (or sometimes Tag Cement). It is a product used on cattle to glue a patch over the eye when they have pinkeye. So far we have not had a dog that is sensitive to the glue or has had a problem with it. Another product that some people use is Skin Bond found in a medical supply store. This does not hold as well, but like the cattle glue, will not irritate the skin. I prefer the cattle product.
Apply the glue to the roller about 2/3rd of the way around, leaving it free of glue in the front. If you use the pencil to hold it your fingers stay cleaner, but have the eraser end down, as you insert the roller and hold with your thumb in front. Be sure to have an adhesive remover product like Goo Gone or De-Solv-It on hand for your fingers, or for removing glue from unwanted areas.

Once the rollers are inserted, wrap the bases a couple times around with one inch wide athletic tape. (This can be found in some pharmacies, medical supply stores or veterinarian offices. One manufacturer is Johnson and Johnson. If you hold it to the light, you will see it is filled with tiny holes.)

Holding the ear upright, and even slightly toward the center of the head, insert the roller into the base of the ear, just above the 'knob', the little cartilage bump at the base of the ear.

It is easier if you have help holding the puppy for this job, scratching their chest to distract them. Now do the same thing with the other ear.

The next step is to form a bridge between the ears to keep them erect. I start by bringing the tape across the front starting at the side of the ear, so the ears are positioned perfectly vertical, and holding them perfectly forward.

As I come around the second ear to the back I follow the contour of the ear, then stick the tape to it self, then the second ear, so that I don't change the position of the ears. Wrap them at least two times around. Check to see that the hair is not pulling anywhere and is free of the tape. Check, also, to see that it is possible for air to get inside the ear. If the roller is positioned too low, take a small pinch of the roller at the base in front and remove it to make room for ventilation.

Check the ears every couple of days for any sign of irritation or infection. You will know by putting your nose near the ear, as an infected ear will give an odor. If the ears are infected, you will need to remove the rollers immediately. (Be sure to use a citrus-based adhesive remover if you need to remove the rollers, as this glue is very, very sticky and the roller will be difficult to remove without it.) Leave the rollers in the ears until they come out on their own. If the tape comes off after some time, and the ears are standing erect with just the rollers, this is fine.
Once the rollers fall out (usually as much as a month or more), watch the pup closely and if the ears are not standing on their own, reinsert a new set of rollers immediately or within a day or two if you want to give the ears a rest. It is highly unusual, but I have seen it take some dogs until 8 or 9 months before their ears are standing, but once they are up, they are fine.

It might also help to supplement the dog during this time with glucosamine/chondroitin. Do not expect the ears to do well during the teething process. We usually don't even begin to tape them until that process is nearing completion, around 5 months or so, although it may not hurt to start a little earlier if you suspect a problem.
Above pup as an adult with her ears up.

Directions for making GSD ear forms from pipe insulation

Start with foam pipe insulation 3/8 inch thick. Cut the foam the same length as the height of the puppy's ears. I like to take a small section out, as the diameter can be a little too large, otherwise.

Leaving about an inch distance from bottom, cut a section away making a curve to top back of form.

The repeat on opposite side.

Take out more bulk on sides and round the top.

Cut away a notch at the bottom inside of form to fit well inside dog's ears. The form below would fit the dog's right ear, leaving a space for the knob/bump in the inside edge of the ear.

Then, start over with a second piece of insulation. Be sure to reverse the position of the notch shown above to fit well inside the left ear.

Use any houehold glue to adhere the short, open section at the base of the form. Let dry.

The tag cement can be ordered online

When ready, use the above products, putting the Tag Cement glue about 2/3 to 3/4 around the outside surface of the form before inserting into the ear. Position in ear slightly oversetting toward center of head. Tape the base of each ear...then use tape to bridge the ears, making sure to keep them even and facing forward. After placing tape around base of each ear, bridge the ears by starting in back of one ear, bringing tape straight across the front, keeping ears perfectly straight and positioned forward....then follow around the back contour of each ear, touching the tape to the sticky side of the front section of tape. I usually go twice around to make the bridge.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Donna Sater has been in GSDs for 40 plus years. Under her kennel name, Saterhaus, she owned and produced many Champions, Selects, dual titled dogs and bitches, plus an AOE recipient. About 2001, she teamed withNordlicht GSDs and continued breeding, using the Sater-Nordlicht kennel name. She has also participated in obedience, therapy dog work and herding.

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