Giving him time to make the choice to get drops for a reward has worked lately for Beau. I don’t know what kind of choice would work for your dog, but taking time to let him figure out he can *choose* to earn that reward by getting drops might help him be more compliant. Maybe dose him when he’s hungry so he wants the treat more? And slow down the approach time a little, so he has time to think about wanting the reward instead of automatically resisting the hated drops? Anyway, I got there by accident, below is the story of how it’s been working for Beau.
Beau loves me skritching his ears, hates hates hates ear drops. A while back he had a stubborn ear infection (yeast) that required drops every day for what ended up being 20 days (2 10-day treatments). The war of wills got worse with every treatment, no snapping but intense struggle and running away, it was ridiculous how unpleasant it was, and how long a 10-second dose was actually taking to administer. Treats or the ball were always offered and in view as the eventual reward, but he still resisted.
One day near the end of treatment he headed into his crate (safe place) when he saw the bottle in my hand. Out of frustration more than anything else I said “okay, fine, you can stay there until you’re ready” and sat down with my book. When he started to come out I immediately picked up the bottle, he retreated. The 2nd time he emerged, ditto. 3rd time, I did the same thing again and that time he came to me and held still while I dosed his ears. We had a little praise party and I gave him his reward.
This has been our ear cleaning ritual the last several months: I pick up the ear cleaner, he goes in his crate, I say “Okay, when you’re ready” and turn my attention elsewhere. When he comes out I say “Crate or this?” and point at the bottle, and I swear he decides to either retreat again or get it over with, usually the latter. He always gets praise and a treat or ball play after we’re done. I don’t know what he’s actually thinking/feeling, but allowing him to make the decision that way has made our process quicker and much more relaxed.