Dogs enjoy licking their owners. This is one of their ways of showing affection. But what about when it is accompanied by nibbling in the ear?
Bizarre behavior, right? In this article, we will discuss what this means and some ways you can do to address it.
Why Does My Dog Nibble My Ear?
Your canine companions rely on their mouth to explore their environment hence the inclination to lick things, animals, and their humans. This behavior can be traced back to the genetic makeup of dogs. They lick because it is innate to them. It is also their way of communicating, perhaps as a way of telling you that they are comfortable with you or need something from you.
Reasons Why Dogs Nibble Your Ear
If your dog is still a pup, this is the main reason why they are nibbling on your ear. You will know that this is the case if the behavior started suddenly and that your puppy chews on other objects too.
Your fur babies behave in different ways when they are excited. Ear nibbling may be one of them. Observe when they do this.
If it’s on times when you arrive home or take them for a walk, then this is probably the reason why.
Signaling a need
Your dog may nibble your ear simply because of boredom. They are telling you that they want to play. Dogs possess a lot of energy.
If they don’t become stimulated enough, they may resort to odd behaviors such as this. Try to keep them active by going out for walks.
If this is not optimal, especially with health protocols still in effect, you can play fetch with them within the comforts of your home.
The other need that you have to watch out for is hunger. Your dog may be nibbling your ear because they are hungry.
And they are going for that tasty smell in your ear, no matter how disgusting it looks for their owners.
Notice how your dog licks your other pet’s ear, especially if they’re close? They do this because they groom each other.
Ears can quickly get dirty, and since your furry pet can’t clean this on their own, they rely on other’s assistance.
The chosen other is usually a pet that your dog likes. It is their way of conveying that they are comfortable enough with the other pet to let them clean their ears.
Observe the two animals. Usually, the more submissive one will be the one doing the licking. The act shows respect to the other.
Applying this to the case of ear licking in their owners, this is your pet’s way of telling you that they feel secure around you.
Also, that they respect and love you. In the canine world, the submissive ones lick the alpha’s ear to show reverence.
In this case, the alpha is you. They do this because they consider you as part of the pack that they look up to.
An inclination for gross objects
If you don’t think that the above reasons are the cause for your dog’s behavior, then you simply have to accept the truth.
These furry babies have an innate tendency to be gross and like disgusting objects. They may just like the taste of the ear wax.
Ear wax makes for a tasty treat for dogs with an unusual palate. Also, your pet may be drawn to a sudden change in smell when there is an ear discharge present.
If they suddenly developed an interest in your ear, you may want to get it checked as this can signal an ear infection.
How to address the behavior
The nibbling is one of your pet’s ways of exploring the world. While the behavior is entirely innocent, we understand that it can gross you out.
If it becomes excessive, it can also lead to ear infection, especially with moisture buildup. The risk of infection is higher in infants and those who have existing ear conditions, so watch out for that.
Fret not; there are different ways how to address this.
Establish an agreement
For teething puppies, you may want to establish a guideline with them. Instruct them on what things are okay for them to chew and what aren’t. Treats will come in handy with this one.
For excited dogs, you may want to avoid reinforcing the behavior. Wait for them to calm down before giving what they want.
When you notice that your dog is about to nibble your ear, distract them. Bring out their favorite toys or shower them with affection.
Some owners particularly like food puzzles as a method of distraction. You just have to put your dog’s food inside a toy. This way, they will have to focus hard to get the reward.
When employing distraction through treats, remember to be cautious of the timing. Do not give treats after your dog starts nibbling. Otherwise, they might think that you are rewarding them for this.
Of course, you can also take them on short walks. If you notice the behavior is about to start, and it’s still not your “walk time,” you can just mention walk or try to reach for your dog’s leash. This will get your dog excited enough to forget about your ears.
Since dogs can’t communicate verbally, they rely on different parts of their body to do the talking.
One of their favorites is the tongue, hence why they like sticking it out and licking objects. Some may find this cute or quirky.
In contrast, some will think this disgusting. Either way, it is essential to understand this behavior from an evolutionary perspective.
It may be challenging to remove since it is innate. But if not causing any harm, then you should just let it be.
After all, this just means that they love and respect you. If the opposite is true, you can employ positive reinforcement training to eliminate it.
Find out why your dog nudges you with his nose next.