Over the last few months, we’ve seen a significant rise in the amount of individuals contacting out and asking questions like “Why does my dog lick my ears?” We’ve chosen to dedicate a whole post to answering this issue for any of our readers who have a dog who likes to lick their ears. Although there are a variety of reasons why your dog may end up licking your ears, they are all harmless and there is no need to be concerned, with some of the causes being very charming.
Depending on your scenario, you can frequently educate your dog to stop licking his ears with a little patience if he has developed the habit. On the other hand, some of the reasons your dog will lick your ears are transitory, and after the cause has passed, your dog should stop the behavior and return to its usual routine without difficulty or the need to try to teach the behavior out of your dog.
#1 Because You Taste Or Smell Good
Although this is debatable, we believe that the number one reason your dog may wind up licking your ears is because you either taste or smell nice. Humans have fragrance and oil glands in their ears as well as in other places around their bodies. These oils may taste appealing to certain dogs, causing them to lick your ears; moreover, humans have a high number of sweat glands on their ears. If you let your perspiration to dry, the salt can frequently remain on your ears and draw your dog’s interest owing to the sodium in sweat offering a pleasant flavor to many dogs.
You would assume that this is a quick and easy remedy, and that all you have to do is bathe or shower twice a day, but it isn’t quite that straightforward. Not only do most people’s oil glands generate the oils they use all day, but many modern soaps and shower gels contain foods like coconut or other fruits. This can also catch your dog’s attention, placing you between a rock and a hard place in terms of correcting the behavior.
Although there are several anti-lick lotions on the market that are scentless to humans but taste horrible to dogs, we believe their usefulness is overstated, with many of them being little more than a waste of time and money. Switching to a citrus-based shower gel, in our opinion, is one of the quickest and easiest strategies to prevent this behavior. Because the great majority of dogs dislike the strong scent and taste of citrus-based fruits, this simple action might frequently be sufficient to prevent your dog from licking your ears owing to your smell or taste.
#2 Because They Love You
Although this one may sound a little obvious, one of the main reasons that your dog will lick your ears is due to the fact that licking is one of the primary reasons that your dog can show affection to you. The vast majority of dog owners tend to have a great bond with their dogs that just keeps on getting stronger with the more time you spend together over the years. Due to most dogs associating their owner with being a provider of food and treats, they often love you but have a limited number of ways that they are able to display it to you.
This is where the licking comes in, although the ears are a common spot that your dog may lick, other common places can also include your arms, feet, legs, and hands. Although many dog owners are fine with their dog licking their ears if it wants to, some do see it as an undesired behavior and would prefer it if their dog did not lick their ears even if it is only to show affection. With regular training methods and consistency you can usually train the behavior out of your dog quickly and actions as simple as saying “No!” in a loud authoritative voice, standing up, and turning away from your dog has been known to work.
#3 To Groom You
Because dogs are primarily pack animals, they retain many of their ancient impulses, and grooming other members of their pack is a very powerful instinct that many dogs will allow to shine through. Domestication has resulted in most dogs viewing their human family as their pack in contemporary society, and they may feel compelled to groom you at times when their instincts kick in. Licking is the primary method by which dogs groom each other, and as we said earlier in the article, they can frequently lick different regions of your body while grooming, including your ears.
Because some dogs are the only pet in the family, their interaction and experiences with other dogs may be restricted, causing them to be unfamiliar with the grooming procedure. When they start licking your ears to attempt to groom you, something as easy as a pat or some attention will help to reinforce the habit and teach your dog that this is an acceptable activity. As previously said, if this is not the desired habit in your dog, you can generally stop it from establishing by yelling “No!” loudly and moving your dog away from you or looking away from your dog to dissociate the group link with the action.
However, because the instinct in some dog breeds is so strong, some dogs may just substitute the grooming you habit with licking their bedding or a carpet instead. This is one of the more difficult reasons that a dog may groom you and may need some somewhat more complex tactics to discourage the behavior.
#3 To Show You Respect
As previously said, dogs are pack animals at heart, and each pack has its own hierarchy of leadership, with subordinates required to demonstrate obedience or respect to the dominant members of the pack.
Many dog breeds have had their more aggressive characteristics bred out of them over generations, resulting in immediate obedience and seeing you as their alpha and leader of the pack.
Licking may be utilized on a frequent basis due to their inclination to show you respect and demonstrate that they do not aim to hurt you or pose a threat to you.
However, as previously stated, this will be more dependent on the breed that you have, while many great breeds, such as herding and guarding types, will usually always submit to their owner as the pack leader, they often do not feel the need to express their submission by licking their owners.
This is typically one of the most difficult reasons for your dog licking your ears to train out of your dog because it is primarily based on instinct and their submission, as well as their need to communicate that they regard you as their leader or alpha.
Despite the fact that we have seen a great number of reports on various methods that dog owners have claimed to have tried to prevent this behavior.
Many of it may be coincidental, and we are unaware of any long-term study that gives any actual reliable advise on the measures you should be doing. As a result, we are hesitant to report on any suggested training to discourage the behavior.
We would advise against using a strategy that needs you to establish authority since you may unintentionally encourage the behavior and make your dog want to lick your ears even more.
#4 Due To A Wound
This is one of the most common reasons why your dog may start licking your ears at random. You may be unaware that you have a minor cut or wound on your ear, but your dog’s strong nose will likely detect the blood or scab and its urge to lick it better will kick in.
Fortunately, if this is the reason your dog has started licking your ears, it is most likely only temporary and will cease once the wound has healed.
To reduce the likelihood of a habit forming, it is critical that you do not offer any positive reinforcement for the behavior while the wound is healing.
Although this is debatable, it appears that most dogs’ saliva includes strong enzymes capable of damaging the cell walls of potentially contagious bacteria.
According to scientific investigations, dogs’ saliva includes Lactoferrin, a strong antibacterial and antiviral molecule.
It is thought that your dog’s inclination to lick a wound evolved through time as a consequence of licking a wound resulting in it not growing as severe, and that this instinct was then entrenched into their behavior over hundreds of years.
Although in trace levels, one research found that the saliva of some dog breeds contained Opiorphin, which may be used as a point pain reliever in considerably greater dosages for humans.
Because many dog breeds are considerably smaller in size, this may be adequate to relieve the pain of a wound on them and may have helped to cement the licking of a wound into canines that still exist today.
#5 Out Of Sheer Boredom
Although it is rare, some dogs may end up licking your ears out of nothing more than boredom. That said though, it is very rare for a dog to do something out of boredom like this where it has no previous experience of being rewarded. If your dog has licked your ears previously only for your to interact with your dog then it is likely that this had developed a positive feedback loop of licking your ears equating to play time.
Thankfully, this type of habit is relatively easy to break by simply removing the reward response so if your dog does start to randomly lick your ear, pay it no attention and leave it to lick to its heart’s content. It is very likely that without the positive response that the habit relies on to be actioned that your dog will wander off within a week and find something new to entertain itself with.
Should I Be Worried About the Licking?
Some individuals contact us with concerns about their dog licking them and wonder if they should be concerned. There is no need to worry or be concerned in our opinion, and as we have discussed above, there are a variety of reasons why licking has been ingrained in your dog’s instinct for a variety of reasons and is completely acceptable.
Although licking your ears might be irritating, the bulk of the primary reasons that dogs do it can be countered by swiftly and effectively training it out of your dog.