Grooming Hard to Reach Areas
Weve all had that itch we just cant quite scratch. While humans can take care of that hard-to-reach spot with a mass-produced back-scratcher, animals cant. For pack animals or those that live in family units, this is where grooming behavior can come in handy. Almost in a literal “you scratch my back and I scratch yours” exchange, animals in family- or pack-structures will groom other animals in areas that otherwise may be difficult to reach. While our ears arent particularly difficult of an area to reach, your dog may lick your ears as a way to thank you for all the ear scritches you bestow upon them.
A Sense of Comfort and Security
Dogs will also groom one another as a way to communicate that they are feeling contented, safe, and that they care for whomever they are grooming. When you dog licks your ears they may just be trying to tell you that they love you and are comfortable when you are around. You can know your dog is licking your ears for this reason if they have a soft face (that is, no tense muscles along the brow line or the muzzle) and relaxed body positioning.
We all know that dogs explore their environment with their noses. Its why they make such great search and rescue animals. What some folks dont realize, though, is that dogs also explore with their mouths. Tasting their world can give them information they may not get from a simple sniff. This is just one reason why puppies like to chew on your furniture, shoes, and even electrical cords. If your dog is infatuated with licking your ears they may just be trying to glean some information about where youve been or what youve been doing.
Submission and Respect
In wolves, dogs, and other canid species, grooming can be a sign of submissive respect. A wolf of a lower social rank may groom a wolf of a higher rank as a way to show that animal that they submit to their rank and authority in the pack. Your dog may lick your ears as a way to show that they respect you as a valued and high-ranking member of their family unit. This is especially likely to be the case if you see other classic submissive behaviors, such as crouching down low, exposing their soft belly, and tucking their tail.
Why Do Dogs Lick Ears: The 7 Reasons Behind This ( Weird ) Behavior
Dogs have some bizarre habits. There is no question about it. Some of the habits are cute and quirky, while others are downright gross. Most of these behaviors can be linked to either evolutionary behavior or as a means of communication from your pooch. One such behavior is licking. Specifically that your dog seems to love to lick your ears. And exactly why do dogs try to lick your ears? Well, that is a question that has been widely discussed among the canine expert community. And a few common explanations seem to be at the forefront of the debate of canines affection for ears.
While it is not uncommon for a dog to love to lick your ears, some still are not sure what it is that they love and why they do it. One explanation is that it is a sign of affection. Nuzzling, licking, and even nibbling on the ears of another pack member (in this case, you) can be a means to show that your pup is comfortable with you. They can be trying to say that they accept you as part of their pack, specifically as their pack leader, and that they respect and love you. Licking seems to be especially prevalent with dogs who are more submissive in nature.
Licking can also be connected to a more primal instinct still present from the time when dogs lived without human pack leaders. It is commonplace for close family members of a pack to groom one another. With places like the ears being particularly difficult to groom, another member of the pack would step in and lick the ears clean. Some domesticated dogs still feel this need to assist other family members with their grooming.
No matter how clean you keep your ears, they are still a source of unusual smells to your pooch. And the fact that dogs explore the world through smell and taste as much as any other sense validates this theory. With their overly keen senses, your dog could learn a tremendous amount about you from licking your ears. These smells, combined with the bitter taste inside your ears, can actually quite appealing to dogs. Whether it seems to be from a deeply rooted instinct to aid in grooming or something that is done from boredom some dogs like to lick your ears. There are even some dogs who have developed a taste for the wax inside human ears. Gross, right?!
Not everyone is going to be okay with getting an earful of puppy tongue. So what do you do to stop this behavior before it becomes a problem? Experts have said that you can try putting your pups food inside a toy. This will cause your dog to really work to figure out how to get to the food. Having something to really occupy their minds is a great way to make them forget other things. It has been shown that this method is a great distraction from the human ear.
Since it is possible that your pooch is licking from just plain old boredom, some experts recommend taking him or her for a brief walk when they start to lick. You will find that most, not all, dogs get quite excited about getting to go on an adventure. This usually helps to aid in them forgetting all about wanting to lick your ears. Either method is shown to achieve the desired goal. And that goal is to get your pups mind as far away from licking ears as possible.
As with any habit or undesired behavior, it will take a little work and patience on your end to remedy the situation. Stick to your game plan and be consistent with how you handle your dogs unwanted licking. Even if your dog doesnt stop licking ears entirely there is a good chance that with a little training it will happen less frequently.
There is some concern that experts warn about with ear licking. Humans and dogs alike can get ear infections. And if your dog is constantly licking your ears, as well as the ears of other animals in the family, these types of infections can be passed around. Additionally, if one of your dogs is more inclined to lick the ears of another animal, this can cause issues as well. The presence of continual moisture in the dogs ear can be the cause of them developing an ear infection. Ears are the perfect place to let yeast and bacteria grow, causing a higher risk of infections developing.
While some see the occasional ear licking as cute and loveable, others find it annoying and gross. Its up to you as the pack leader to decide what is appropriate behavior and either allow it or do something to discourage it. Either way, make sure you show your pup lots of love and attention.