Why Does My Dog Nibble My Ear? 16 Reasons + 7 Tips
Dogs are one of the most lovable, playful, and fun pets to have around. Not only do they give us unquestioning love and companionship, but can also make us laugh with their playful antics like chasing after sticks, running in circles, and rolling around in the dirt.
Most are so devoted to their owners that even when we’re away from home, they will often be waiting for our return at the door with a happy wag and a nuzzle.
As good dog owners, we should work to understand our pup’s different behaviors so that we can better care for them. For instance, barking can mean many things like excitement or an alert about perceived danger; similarly, there are also differences in seemingly random licks that may actually indicate contentment or tentative behavior.
So what about dogs that go for your ears? Why does my dog nibble on my ear? Unfortunately, there isn’t one, single quick and easy answer.
Your dog could nibble on your ears for a variety of reasons. It could be that she is just having fun and playing, or perhaps you have an ear infection or she’s trying to groom you.
Maybe she is bored and looking for something to do. She could also be expressing her affection, claiming you as her own, demonstrating her submissive nature, or simply wanting to greet you with enthusiasm.
You possibly even trained her to nibble ears or she is using this behavior as a form of communication, she could also still be a puppy doing puppy things.
If this is a new behavior, don’t discount the possibility that she is injured or sick. Anxiety can also lead to odd behaviors like ear nibbling.
Of course, if you recently got your dog she could just be learning about you.
And lastly, she may have noticed that your ears have a particular scent and taste that makes them irresistible!
Whatever the reason behind your pup’s nibbling habits, it’s important to pay attention to what she may be trying to tell you and take appropriate action if necessary. With patience and understanding, you can help ensure that your pup’s behavior is healthy and enjoyable for both of you.
Reasons Why Your Dog Nibbles On Your Ears
I briefly went through the main reasons that would lead your dog to nibble on your ears. Now, I’ll take a closer look at them so you can maybe figure out which reason or reasons your good girl is nibbling your ears.
Learning About You
At some point, your dog will try to learn more about you, and when given the option, the ears are a great place to do so.
Dogs sniff each other out and identify one another by their smell. They will often do the same with humans! Dogs love to sniff us because it helps them get to know us better.
So, when your pup nibbles your ear, they are trying to get a better sense of who you are and what you smell like.
It’s also possible that your dog is nibbling as part of playtime – especially if you’re rolling around on the ground playing with her. She may think that nibbling our ears is fun and will want to keep the game going strong.
Often it will be puppies that do this since they may not have learned that we humans and her fellow canines have boundaries!
Your Ears Smell Different
Another reason could be that your ear has a new fragrance to it…which probably should be sniffed, licked, and nibbled!
This new smell could come from all sorts of places you’re overlooking. A new shampoo, lotion, or even laundry detergent could be the culprit.
‘Boring!’ That’s not just something your kids think. If your pooch is bored or has been left alone or ignored for too long without proper mental stimulation or exercise, they may resort to nibbling on things around them – including your ears!
If that’s the case for you, make sure that you are providing enough activities for them throughout the day. This could include taking them on walks or playing fetch in the backyard.
One common reason for your pup’s nibble is that they are grooming you! Dogs have a strong instinct to groom their pack members, whether it’s humans or other animals. This behavior can be seen across many species of animals and is often used as a way to show affection or care for their pack members.
Is Your Ear Infected?
Another possible cause for this behavior is that your pup is trying to tell you something – namely that there’s an infection in your ear!
Okay! Maybe your dog isn’t actually a doctor who is telling you your ear is infected. Remember when I mentioned that dogs have an amazing sense of smell and can detect very small changes in odor?
Well, that change in odor can sometimes indicate that our ears are infected.
Your dog might smell this before you’re even aware! Just like when your dog gave your ear a little bite when she smelled a new lotion, she might also do it when she smells an ear infection.
Is Your Dog Hurt or Ill?
It’s always a good idea to pay more attention to how your pup is feeling overall. If your dog is suddenly nibbling on your ear when she has never tried before it could be a sign that something is wrong with her.
Dogs can’t tell us when they don’t feel well, nevertheless, many times you’ll be able to figure it out because their behavior changes; sometimes drastically!
If your good girl’s energy levels have dropped suddenly or if she seems uncomfortable or starts behaving differently in many situations, then it could be a sign that something isn’t quite right internally – either due to an illness or injury.
In this case, a trip to the vet would be necessary so that any underlying problems can be identified and treated accordingly.
Is your dog still a puppy? Because puppies often display this type of behavior simply because they are curious about new experiences and sensations – including those associated with our ears!
Puppies will nip and chew on various objects (including our ears!) as a way of exploring their environment and gaining more knowledge about what’s around them.
Your dog shouldn’t be like this for too long, though; once she gets used to your ears being off-limits, then she should stop trying to chew them!
If your pooch is anxious or stressed out, she may start nibbling on your ears as a way of coping. After all, dogs do not have the same ways of coping with issues or even expressing their feelings that humans do.
So, some dogs will resort to this behavior if they feel uneasy or feeling anxious in a particular situation.
If you notice that your pup is nibbling more when something has changed in her environment, such as a new person or pet joining the household, she may just be trying to tell you that something isn’t right.
Your Ears Taste Good
Believe it or not, your ears might just taste good – to your dog that is! Let’s just say that we don’t have the same idea of what tastes good as our furry friends.
You Trained Her To (Oops!)
Another reason for your dog going for your ears that may surprise you is that you trained her to do it!
Sometimes we unintentionally train our dogs to do behaviors we don’t want them to do! This can happen when we inadvertently reward our dogs for biting our ears. Maybe, even though you don’t want your good girl flea biting you, you still find it cute. So rather than tell her no, you slowly push her away as you giggle, pet her, and tell her ‘good girl’.
As you can see, that’s a lot of positive reinforcement! No wonder some dogs think their owners want their ears nibbled on.
She’s Being Affectionate And Loving On You:
Dogs show their affection and love for each other and us in a variety of ways including by being physical. They can’t verbally say ‘I love you’ but a quick lick or nibble of each other’s faces or even their owners’ faces and ears can do the trick.
An Excited Greeting
If you’ve just gotten home from work or school, your pup is likely overjoyed to see you. If your dog is like my dog, Duke, she’ll get overcome with excitement and enthusiasm – wiggling, wagging, bouncing, and doing all sorts of crazy things.
It took a while (probably age more than training to be honest!) to train Duke that we didn’t want him to jump on us, lick us, and yes, even nibble on us when we came home but we eventually did. The point is, when your dog is overcome with excitement, any weird behavior you can think of is a possibility!
She’s Trying To Tell You Something
I’m sure you and your dog can already communicate everyday things to each other. She probably has her ‘I need to go potty’ dance as well as her ‘I’m hungry’ dance. But what about when there’s something that she’s never tried to tell you that’s important right now?
This could be another reason why dogs might nibble on their owners’ ears. Your dog could be trying to get your attention because she needs something or is trying to alert you about something. She could be trying anything odd and new to tell you whatever it is she is trying to say.
It might take a bit of detective work on your part but if the cause for alarm is obvious and necessary she’ll probably be able to get her point across eventually.
She’s Claiming You
There are better ways to claim you than to nibble on your ear, but that doesn’t mean your good girl won’t try to keep you from other dogs by doing so. A nibble, in front of other dogs or one that leaves the dog’s scent on you, is a great way for your dog to claim you as hers from other dogs you might encounter.
She’s Showing Submission
Finally, some dogs may use nibbling, in general, as a way of showing submission – either towards other animals or towards people. Your sweet dog might express submission by gently biting at your ears in an instinctive attempt to keep you happy by showing her deference and loyalty.
Is It Okay For My Dog To Nibble On My Ears?
Nibbling on your ears by your dog may seem cute and cuddly, but it could come with some unforeseen consequences. Your dog might not understand that this behavior is inappropriate, which can lead to friends or family members being uncomfortable when interacting with your good girl.
On top of that, saliva from your pooch could get into your ears and cause infection. That’s something I think makes allowing your dog to nibble not worth it. Plus, it’s gross!
How To Make My Dog Stop Nibbling On My Ear?
So your furry best friend has been nibbling on your ear, and you’ve decided it’s time to put a stop to it. If you’re not sure what to do…Fear not! Help is here! Okay, that makes me sound like a superhero…really though, if you need some ideas about how to approach getting your dog to stop nibbling your ears I do have some helpful tips.
But the first step is to determine why your dog is nibbling on your ear. If there is a serious underlying issue, obviously your best approach is to address that. If your dog is nibbling on your ear for something not so serious like an excited greeting then these tips will help immensely.
Once you figure out the cause, From there you can use the most appropriate tips below for your unique situation.
Tip #1: Don’t Encourage Her!
I know it’s hard, but try to resist the urge to be sweet and pet your dog when she nibbles your ear. Encouraging this behavior with positive attention only reinforces it and makes it harder to break the habit.
Tip #2: Physically Separate Yourself From Your Dog
Making it physically impossible for your dog to get to your ears can be a great way of breaking the cycle of nibbling. If you put your dog on the ground, or get up and walk away from your dog when she goes for your ears, she’ll eventually start putting it together that she gets the opposite of what she wants when she tries to nibble your ears.
Tip #3: Use Obedience Commands
Your dog probably already knows at least some commands. Hopefully ‘no’, ‘off’, and ‘get down’ are in her vocabulary. Dogs respond well to commands like these because they have been trained since puppyhood to follow them.
Even if she tries again with the behavior after you give the command, keep using the commands until she gets the message that this behavior isn’t acceptable. While telling your dog ‘no’ will get her to stop immediately, often, dogs will need to hear a command for multiple attempts to start changing their behavior. Especially if it is something you let them get away with for a while.
Tip #4: Redirect And Distract
As you probably know, changing a dog’s behavior isn’t always easy. Many people have success with redirecting and distracting their dogs. The key here though is to catch your dog before she starts nibbling.
Otherwise, depending on how you redirect and distract (a toy or pets) your dog could think she’s being rewarded for ear nibbling and you’re encouraging her to do it!
Tip #5: Toys and Exercise.
A pup who is too tired for trouble is a good pup!
Make sure that you are providing plenty of opportunities for physical activity throughout the day so that she has an outlet for all that energy she has built up from being cooped up inside all day long – whether it be through walks around the neighborhood or playing fetch in the backyard – whatever works for both of you is best!
Plus, having some fun toys around will give her mind something else to do so she doesn’t go stir-crazy!
Tip #6: Talk To A Pro
Sometimes we just need an extra bit of guidance from an expert for us humans to understand how best to help our best friends out with their behaviors; if none of these tips seem to be working then consider talking to a professional trainer or veterinarian about other potential solutions!
As thorough as I’ve tried to be in this article, there are still situations that are unique and may require more help. Your vet or local dog trainer will be able to offer more tailored advice specific to why your dog is engaging in this type of behavior.
Tip #7: Be Patient, Consistent And Don’t Punish
It can be tough to stay patient and consistent, but these are three of the most important parts of training. Punishment might seem like it will work faster to change your dog’s behavior, but actually, it can backfire and make things worse!
Summary: What Does It Mean When A Dog Nibbles On Your Ear?
Have you ever been sitting with your pup, enjoying a relaxing afternoon together, when all of a sudden they start nibbling on your ear? You’re not alone! Many dog owners have experienced this phenomenon, which can be both odd and endearing.
And it does make you wonder, why is my dog so weird? Alright, you probably don’t wonder that exact question…at least not out loud. But you probably do wonder why she’s nibbling on your ear.
Well, it turns out there are quite a few reasons that your dog may be nibbling your ears.
Your dog is probably nibbling on your ear due to one or more of the following:
- She’s learning about you
- Your ears have a new scent and taste
- She’s playing
- She’s bored
- She’s grooming you
- You have an ear infection
- She’s injured or sick
- She’s being a puppy
- She has anxiety
- Your ears taste good
- She was trained to nibble your ears
- She’s being affectionate and loving
- She’s greeting you
- She’s trying to tell you something
- She’s claiming you as her own
- She’s being submissive
All in all, there are many potential explanations for why pups nibble our ears – ranging from simple grooming techniques all the way through to signs of illness or injury.
If you’re like me, you aren’t okay with your dog nibbling on your ears and you’ll want to put a stop to it.
Luckily, nibble-free ears are within reach – but it requires patience, consistency, dedication (and maybe even some professional help).
Remember that any changes won’t happen overnight – Rome wasn’t built in a day either – but with enough practice, repetition, and reinforcement over time then hopefully one day soon you’ll be free from those pesky nips at your ears!
So stick with it – things WILL get better eventually if you stay committed to working with your four-legged friend!