If you’re like most dog owners, at one time or another your furry friend has nibbled on your ear. It’s a strange and seemingly inexplicable behavior but there are actually a number of reasons why dogs do this.
In this article, we’ll explore 10 of the most common reasons dogs nibble on their owner’s ears.
1. They’re Trying To Show You Affection
One of the most common reasons dogs nibble on their owner’s ears is because they’re trying to show them affection. Dogs often use their mouths to communicate and this is one way they can express how much they love and care for you.
If your dog gently nibbles on your earlobe while giving you a big doggy grin, it’s a good bet that they’re just trying to show you some love.
2. They’re Trying To Groom You
Another common reason dogs nibble on their owner’s ears is because they’re trying to groom them. This behavior is likely inherited from their wild ancestors who would lick and nibble on each other’s fur to clean and groom them.
Even after domestication, many dogs still retain this instinctual behavior and will often try to groom their owner’s ears or other body parts.
3. They’re Playfully Trying To Get Your Attention
Dogs will also often nibble on their owner’s ears or other body parts as a playful way of getting their attention. If you’re busy watching TV and your dog is starting to climb on you and nibble on your ear, it’s a clear sign that they want some playtime.
4. They Could Be Displaying a Learned Behavior From Their Previous Housemate
If your dog has recently been adopted or if you’ve gotten a new dog and their previous owner has another dog, it’s possible that the nibbling behavior is something they’ve learned from them.
Dogs are very good at picking up on cues from other dogs and this can sometimes lead to them adopting behaviors that they wouldn’t normally display.
5. They Could Simply Be Exploring Your Body With Their Mouth
Another possibility is that your dog is simply exploring your body with their mouth. Dogs have a very strong sense of smell and they often use their mouths to explore the world around them.
If you notice that your dog is constantly sniffing you and then nibbling on your ears and other body parts, it’s likely that they’re just trying to get a better sense of who you are.
6. They’re Dominant Dogs and Are Using This Behavior To Assert Their Authority
Although there is some debate over whether this is truly a dominant behavior or not, some experts believe that dogs will often nibble on their owner’s ears as a way of asserting their authority.
Dogs who have dominant personality traits may often display this behavior along with other tactics, such as growling or putting their paw on you to assert their dominance.
7. You’ve Encouraged This Behavior Unknowingly
If you’ve been unknowingly encouraging this behavior by giving your dog treats or petting them when they nibble on your ears, then you’re likely to see this behavior continue.
Dogs are very good at picking up on cues from their owners and if they’ve learned that nibbling on your ears gets them positive attention, then they’re likely to continue doing it.
8. They Love the Taste or Smell of Your Ears
Another possibility is that your dog simply loves the taste or smell of your ears. In the dog’s world, taste and smell play an important role in everything they do.
Don’t ask me why, but there are some dogs who just love the taste and smell of their owners’ ears and will go to great lengths to nibble on them.
9. They Could Be Trying To Tell You Something Important
Although this one is a bit of a stretch, some experts believe that dogs may nibble on their owner’s ears as a way of trying to tell them something important.
If your dog starts nibbling on your ear accompanied by other behaviors, such as whining or pawing at you, it’s possible that they’re trying to tell you something that you need to know.
10. They’re in the Teething Stage
Last but not least, another common reason why dogs may nibble on their owner’s ears is because they’re in the teething stage. Puppies will often chew on anything they can find as a way of relieving the pain and discomfort of their new teeth.
If your ear happens to be one of the things your puppy has easy access to, then you’re likely to get nibbled on from time to time.
Should You Be Concerned If Your Dog Is Nibbling At Your Ear?
Now that you know some of the common reasons why dogs nibble on their owner’s ears, you may be wondering if you should be concerned or not.
Generally speaking, there isn’t anything to worry about if your dog is only nibbling on your ears every once in a while.
However, if this behavior is becoming more frequent or if it’s accompanied by other concerning behaviors such as growling or biting, then you may want to consult with a professional.
7 Tips To Stop Your Dog From Nibbling On Your Ears
If you’re tired of your dog nibbling on your ears and you want to put a stop to it, here are seven tips that may help:
1. Find The Real Reason Why They’re Doing It
The first step is to try and find the real reason why your dog is nibbling on your ears. Look at their body language and see if you can identify any clues that may help you figure out what’s going on.
2. Give Them Something Else To Chew On
If your dog is nibbling on your ears because they’re teething or because they simply love the taste of your ears, then you may be able to redirect their attention by giving them something else to chew on.
This could be a toy, a piece of rawhide, or even a Kong filled with treats.
3. Ignore The Behavior
If you think your dog is nibbling on your ears because you’ve been unknowingly encouraging it, then the best thing to do is to ignore the behavior.
Do not give them any attention, positive or negative, and eventually, they’ll stop doing it.
4. Put Them In Their Place With a Firm No
If your dog is trying to assert their dominance over you by nibbling on your ears, then you may need to put them in their place with a firm “no.”
Make sure your tone is stern and authoritative, and only use this command when they’re actually nibbling on your ears. You can also train your dog with a cue such as “leave it” to stop them from nibbling on your ears.
5. Get Professional Help If Needed
If your dog’s nibbling on your ears is becoming a serious problem or if it’s accompanied by other concerning behaviors, then you may need to get professional help.
Consult with a certified dog trainer or behaviorist to find out what you can do to stop your dog from nibbling on your ears.
6. Set Aside Some Time To Play
If your dog is nibbling on your ears because they’re bored or they want your attention, then you may be able to stop the behavior by setting aside some time each day to play with them.
Make sure you have some toys that they really enjoy and take the time to engage in some fun activities together.
7. Use Natural Deterrents
If you don’t want to use aversive methods to stop your dog from nibbling on your ears, you can try using natural deterrents instead.
Citronella oil or apple cider vinegar diluted with water can be sprayed around your ears when your dog starts nibbling. The taste will deter them from continuing and eventually, they’ll learn that nibbling on your ears is not a pleasant experience.
So there you have it, 10 common reasons why your dog may be nibbling on your ear. If you’re concerned about this behavior, it’s always best to consult with a veterinarian or certified animal behaviorist to get their professional opinion. Thanks for reading!
Rudely grazing on your skin, your dog may be trying to tell you they have fleas and to groom them more frequently.