Many pet owners are fairly used to being licked by their dogs, and we recognize it as a sign of love and affection from our furry friends.
But what happens when your dog is especially interested in licking your ears and doing it fairly often? There’s no one definite answer to the question “Why does my dog lick my ears?”.
And there are a number of possible reasons behind this behaviour.
5 Reasons Your Dog Licks Your Ears
The most common reason a dog may lick their human’s ears is as a sign of affection. Back when dogs lived in packs in the wild, they would lick the ears of their packmates to show that they accepted the other as a part of their pack.
Essentially, this would mean that your dog is comfortable with you and likes being around you and accepts you as a member of their family.
A dog may also perform this action as a symbol of respect.
Licking is often used as submissive body language, indicating that the dog in question recognizes you as a dominant member of their pack. They might even lick your feet or face.
If your dog has nothing better to do and wants to occupy their time, they may choose to entertain themselves by licking at your ear.
Without sufficient exercise, toys, or treats that can take up their attention, a dog may often resort to all sorts of funny behaviours, so make sure your pup has something to chew on.
Once again harkening back to their wilder days, dogs are accustomed to helping their packmates with grooming tasks. A dog licking your ears may be them attempting to clean you or give you a bath.
Admittedly, this is a very gross thought, but it might just be what’s going on. Dogs are attracted to odd and interesting smells, and ear wax definitely has those traits.
On top of that, dogs tend to like to eat strange things, so don’t be surprised if your dog happens to just like the taste of your ear!
Should I Be Concerned By The Licking?
There is no harm at all in a dog licks ears. The worst that can come of it is you disliking the sensation and needing to teach them to stop doing it.
The only possible cause for concern is that your dog is overly bored or doesn’t have an avenue to let out their excess energy. If you think this is the case with your pup, you should certainly find better ways to keep them entertained.
Play a few extra games, get some more resilient toys, or stuff a Kong with something yummy and freeze it so your pup has more to do.
Don’t forget to take your dog out for daily walks so they can work off the energy they have stored up!
Do note that if your dog starts licking the ears of other pets in the house that you should work to deter the behaviour.
This is because the excess moisture can lead to ear infections in the pets who have their ears licked. However, this doesn’t apply to humans, so if your pup only licks the ears of people, it will be fine.
How Do I Train My Dog To Stop Licking My Ears?
Most dogs will unlearn this behavior fairly easily. If you catch them when they’ve just started exhibiting it, it can be quite easy to divert their attention to games or treats that are more interesting to them and can keep them occupied.
To break a deeply planted habit, though, you’ll need to try a little harder. Consider these tips and tricks. A dog licks ears out of boredom too.
Don’t Accidentally Encourage It
Dogs – especially boring ones – thrive off energy.
If licking your ears causes a strong response from you, they might think of it as a game, use it as a means to get your attention, or just do it because you have such a big reaction to it.
Act calm when the behavior occurs and learn to ignore it.
Make sure your dog knows the “leave it” command or responds well to “no” before attempting this method. When your dog starts licking you, give him either of these commands in a stern voice.
Then, order them to sit. Leave them sitting for about 30-60 seconds, then reward them. Make sure not to reward too soon, or your dog may attribute the reward to licking your ears instead of sitting!
When your dog starts licking your ears, completely ignore them for a few minutes. Then, once they’ve stopped, wait a few more minutes and present them with a toy or initiate a game.
You can also make sure that you always have a toy or puzzle around so that your dog has something else to do – the extra stimulation might make be preferable to your pups when compared to your ears!
Put Your Dog In Time Out
Negative reinforcement is never the best option for training a dog, or any animal for that matter. However, it can work as a last resort if other training methods don’t work.
As soon as your dog licks ears, bring them to their kennel or a separate room and isolate them for one to two minutes.
Don’t leave them for too long of they’ll likely forget what they did that led to this minor punishment. Expect to do this for a few weeks before the behavior lessens in frequency.