"Ear taping" refers to supporting a cropped ear on a puppy until the cartilage hardens and the ear stands by itself.
Done properly, it is NOT a painful procedure. But it can take up to a year or more to get ears to stand, so it can be quite a commitment.
Do NOT get your puppy's ears cropped unless you are prepared to find a veterinarian who is an expert (ask show breeders in your area who they go to) AND you are willing and able to provide the follow up care! You can take the puppy in to the vet each week to be re-taped, but it is much easier on your puppy if you learn to do it yourself.
If you get your puppy before the ear crop, the very FIRST step is to handle the puppy's ears a lot. Not just scratching behind the ears, but gently clean them, massage around the base and up the length of the ear, and gently stretch the ear upward. Give the puppy many small treats and lots of praise while you practice this! You want to teach the puppy that it doesn't hurt to have her ears handled. If approached correctly, ear taping can be a calm, pleasant experience for both the puppy and her owner.
This is also a great time to practice gentle restraint. Hold the puppy gently (don't squeeze!!) against you for a few seconds, praise her and give her a small treat and let her go. Repeat this many times throughout the day, until she doesn't struggle if you hold her for a few minutes.
SUPPLIES YOU WILL NEED:
Stays: I use heavy-duty cable ties (also known as zip ties) for the stay. You want the thickest ones you can find, ideally those rated to 175 lbs. You can find these at most hardware stores.
You can also use corset stays which can be purchased at historical costume shops such as Townsend's
The section below on "measuring the stay" will tell you what size to order if you are using corset stays.
Rollers: Get a package of small size self-holding hair rollers. This is NOT a foam roller. This type has a plastic framework covered with Velcro, and is hollow. You can find them anywhere, I ususally get mine at a Dollar store.
Tape: I like to use two kinds of tape. For preparing the ear support (the stay and the roller), I like to use Curity tape by Kendall because it is really sticky. Also, it is cheaper than the Zonas tape by J&J that I prefer for taping the supports to the ears. I like using Zonas on the ears because it isn't quite as sticky, and won't pull out so much hair when you remove it. You use up a lot more tape padding and back-taping than you do wrapping the ears.
But many people use one brand of tape for everything. That is fine too - sometimes you have to experiment to find what works for you. You can find these brands of tape at most medical supply stores - I usually order mine from Allegro Medical. You'll want a total of at least one case (12 rolls) of 1 inch tape for an average puppy.
Glue: You will need a medical grade liquid glue called Osto-Bond. Do NOT use Krazy glue or anything like that on your puppy!!
Adhesive remover: You will also need a good, gentle adhesive remover to make it comfortable for your puppy when it is time to remove the supports. I really like Uni-Solve. You can find both the Osto-Bond and the Uni-solve at medical supply stores like Allegro.
In addition, you will need scissors, a file or Dremel, something to protect the top of your work surface from the glue, and lots of yummy little treats for your puppy!