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Why Does My Dog Nibble My Ear?

Dogs can display some really strange habits, and these can be entertaining and quirky, but sometimes they can be pretty gross!

However, many of the habits that dogs display are linked to evolutionary behavior and is their way of communicating with others.

One behavior that seems to baffles dog owners is that their dog likes to nibble and lick their ears.

Do you sometimes find yourself thinking, “Why does my dog nibble my ear?” It is fairly common for dogs to lick and nibble ears, and one of the most widely accepted reasons for this is that it is a sign of affection. It shows that your dog is comfortable with you and that they accept you as part of their pack.

Licking also tends to be more common with more submissive dogs, so it is a way to know your dog’s personality. Understanding why your dog does certain things will really help you connect with them better!

Why Dogs Nibble Ears

You might enjoy your dog showing you some affection by nibbling your ear, or it might gross you out a bit. Whatever stance you take, understand that there is a reason behind it, and it isn’t just your dog testing what you might taste like!

Nibbling, licking, and nuzzling of ears are all ways for dogs to show that they are comfortable with you, and a way for them to show some affection.

Dogs are pack animals, and nibbling your ear is a sure sign that they recognize and accept you as part of their pack, and even as their pack leader. It is more of submissive behavior and does show that they look up to you as their leader.

It might also go back to a more primal instinct, where dogs lived in the wild without humans. Close members of dog packs would groom each other, and as ears are difficult to groom, they would help each other out and lick each other ears clean.

This might sound really gross, but some dogs still have this urge, and may think you need a bit of ear cleaning! Your ears will have an unusual smell to your dogs, and as they live their lives through smell, it makes sense that they will get to know you a little better through your ears.

More Reasons For Nibbling

Other than being an instinct and behavior that many dogs display, here are some more reasons why your dog might nibble at your ear!

They Are Playing

Your dog might just be having a bit of fun by nibbling or licking your ears. She might want to just explore with her mouth by playing and nibbling. This is more common in puppies rather than adult dogs.

As your dog grows, be careful that their soft nibbles don’t become more painful bites! Try to discourage this behavior as it might become a bit much later on.

They Love The Taste

As humans, we might battle to understand this, but dogs might just really enjoy the taste of our ears! Our skin naturally produces oil and sweat, and dogs love this salty taste. By licking your ears, they are getting the salty taste and grooming you.

Take comfort in the fact that your dog feels like she is taking care of you by doing this!

They Need You For Something

Dogs have different methods of communication, and by nibbling your ear, your dog might be trying to tell you that she needs something.

Your pup might need to go outside, or they might be hungry. Try to figure out what they are trying to tell you, and if you can’t, they might just be showing you some love and affection!

Investigating Smells

Your dog will instantly pick up on any new scents. If you have applied some new cream or perfume around your face, your dog might be curious to explore these scents. This could lead to some sniffing, and then licking and nibbling of your ears!

Showing Affection

There might be no other reason for the ear nibbling than your dog just showing you affection. She will nibble on your ear to show her love and appreciation. Know that if your dog does this, they feel completely comfortable with you!

Should You Allow Ear Nibbling?

Ear nibbling is really quite harmless, but it is best to discourage the behavior. Your dog might be showing you affection by nibbling your ear, but they might not know when to stop and could end up biting you quite hard.

If your dog has poor impulse training, they might not know that their nibbles can cause pain, and this can become quite a problem, especially if you have younger kids.

Here are some ways to discourage ear nibbling:

Be firm – Be firm and tell your dog when she is hurting you. Say the same thing, such as “no”, or “ouch”. They will learn to stop nibbling if you are consistent.

Offer chew toys – For puppies, it might be a good idea to offer them chew toys to bite on (this one is a great choice). They might be going through a teething phase, and nibbling helps to ease gum pain. Offer different types of chew toys so that they don’t lose interest.

Give positive reinforcement – Try to offer praise and treats when your dog shows restraint, and stops nibbling when you tell her to. This conditioning will eventually help her learn to not nibble, and she will stop altogether over time. 

Why Does My Dog Nibble My Nose?

Another odd habit your dog might have is nibbling on your nose. This can feel even stranger than a simple nibble on the ear!

The reasons for your dog nibbling on your nose are much the same as when they nibble on your ear. It is a way for them to communicate with you, to show you affection, and let you know that you are part of their pack.

However, this behavior should be discouraged. Your dog might not know that they are hurting you, and a bite to the nose can be painful.

If your dog growls and bites your nose quite hard, it might be a warning sign. This means that you have done something to bother them and that your dog could need a behavior specialist.

Why Do Dogs Nibble On Other Dogs Ears?

There are a few reasons why dogs nibble on each other’s ears. One might be that they are just playing, and this is especially common with puppies. Your dog might be showing their friend that they are in charge by nipping at their ear.

It is a way for dogs to communicate with each other and played a vital role back when dogs lived in packs and had a hierarchy.

Nibbling and licking ears is also a way for dogs to groom each other. If the dogs feel comfortable together, they might recognize each other as being in the same pack. This allows them to feel at ease enough to help groom each other.

Dogs nibbling other dogs’ ears is not a concern if it is done softly and does not cause fights. Let your dogs communicate this way and find their place with each other. If it becomes aggressive, you will have to separate the dogs and maybe take them for behavior training.

Related Questions

How can I tell my dog I love him?

You can show your dog you love him a few different ways. One would be to look into his eyes, keeping gentle eye contact. Another way you could show your love is by rubbing his ears. Instead of patting your dog on his head, you can gently rub him behind his ears.

Snuggle up when it is time to relax, and have fun together during the day, these are all ways to let your dog know that you love him!

Why does my dog bump me with his nose?

Dogs often bump their owners on the leg with their nose. This is a way for them to communicate with you, and a way for you to know that they want some attention!

If you find your dog constantly bumping you with their nose, pat them, play with them, or take them for a walk.

Why does my dog put his paw on me?

You might find that your dog puts his paw on you while you rub or pat him. This is his way of saying thank you, or I love you. We pet and rub our dogs to show affection, and they do the same back to us. Them offering their paw is the best way they know how to reciprocate affection.

Why Your Dog Nibbles Your Ears

Your dog nibbling your ears is not a bad thing, but it might become painful over time. It is their way of showing affection and showing that they accept you as their pack leader. Try to discourage this behavior if possible, to avoid any painful accidents later on.

Be happy if your dog feels comfortable enough to nibble your nose or ear – it shows they love you!

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