If you have a dog and you are wondering why licking your ears has become one of his favorite pastimes, you have come to the right place for an answer. Any dog owner knows that his furry friend can be capable of funny and quirky behaviors, but is this just another one to add to the list? Could there be other reasons why this is happening?
In this article, we will go through the three main reasons why a dog may like licking your ears. By the end of it, you should be able to understand why your pooch has developed this habit. Canine experts have analyzed the ear licking behavior in numerous studies. It can be performed not only towards humans but it can be carried out toward other dogs as well.
This way of behaving is not at all meaningless and it has to do with pack behavior and communication between pack members. Dogs don’t have the ability to talk (even though they can make themselves understood most of the time), so most of their communication has to rely on body language. What may seem to us as odd behavior is usually quite normal from a dog’s point of view.
What does it mean when a dog licks your ears?
According to dog behaviorists, there can be three main reasons why a pooch likes licking your ears.
It has been notices by ethologists that dogs, just like wolves, have a way of demonstrating their respect and submission to the pack members higher in rank through grooming. It is quite common for the leaders of the pack to get their ears licked by the other dogs. This has been interpreted as a way of saying “I know you are in charge” and, in fact, the top dogs do not exchange the favor.
So if your dog comes next to you and starts licking your ear, there is a good chance he is just trying to communicate that he respects you and that he knows your are the leader of the pack. Try noticing if, before or after the licking, he shows some other submissive behaviors, such as putting his head down or to the side.
Another reason why your dog could be licking your ear is to help you clean yourself. You probably already knew that your pooch was a great pal, but you maybe didn’t imagine he would go to this extent. As we have said before, communicating with your dog isn’t always easy and this behavior could be easily misinterpreted by a dog owner.
It is, in fact, quite normal for dogs to groom each other, especially in parts of the body that are difficult to get to. One of these areas, in case you are a dog, involves the ears. Being part of a pack means caring for each other and that is just what your dog is trying to do. He doesn’t know that you are perfectly capable of taking care of your own ears, so he is just helping out.
Ok, know that we have explained all the more scientific reasons to why your dog is licking your ears, let’s get to the quirky part. If you have been a pet parent for some time you will have noticed that your dog is capable of doing the most loving things, but he also can be quite gross sometimes. Dogs have a very different idea to ours regarding what is delicious to eat or nice to smell. Licking ears is just something that they do that reminds us that we have different taste buds. The salty taste of earwax is so delicious for your dog that he just can’t resist.
Dogs licking other dogs’ ears
Some dogs may prefer to lick another dog’s ear rather than a human one. If you have noticed your pooch performing this behavior with various dogs, then it is just a way for him to communicate with them. There is one scenario in which this type of behavior could be more concerning. This is if your pooch lives with another dog and one day, for no apparent reason, he starts licking the other dog’s ear.
This behavior may imply that the dog has smelled something different in the other dog’s ear and often this is related to an infection. The dog that starts licking the other one’s ear is sensing that something isn’t right and he is trying to help his friend. If you notice this kind of behavior, the only thing to do is to go and see your vet as soon as possible.
Is it bad to let your dog lick your ears?
As we have said before, if your dog is licking your ears, there is nothing to worry about. He is just trying to be friendly by letting you know that he respects you or he is trying to help you with your grooming. And, yes… there is the third possibility, that he enjoys the taste of your earwax.
While occasional ear licking is fine and there is nothing to worry about, it might not be a good idea to get your dog too much into the habit of doing it. The reason for this is that your dog’s tongue and saliva have quite a lot of bacteria running around. The chances of getting an ear infection if your dog licks you are scarse, but, nonetheless, it is possible.
How can I get my dog to stop licking his ears?
Most owners don’t mind that their dog occasionally licks their ears, since it is just a way to communicate with their friend. If, though, you are not on the same page as them or if your pooch just goes too far with the ear licking, there are ways to make him desist.
The most efficient way to resolve the matter is to wait until your dog starts to lick your ear and then immediately say stop in a firm voice. As soon as he interrupts the behavior you can give him a treat, just as a positive reinforcement. It will take some time until your pooch gets out of the habit of licking your ear, but if you are persistent you will see good results.