There are two primary reasons your dog licks your ears. The first (and most common) reason is that they like the taste. Sounds gross, but some dogs love the taste of earwax. The second reason is that they’re grooming you. Grooming pack members is an instinct for dogs. Since you’re part of the pack, they’ll try to groom you.
As most dog owners know, dogs love our ears. In fact, they love our ears so much they practically lick them to death…but what causes a dog to do this? And more importantly, is there any way to get them to stop?
The good news is that you CAN teach your dog to stop licking your ears, and we will go into detail about how in today’s guide. But first, let’s talk about why they do it in the first place.
What You'll Learn
3 Reasons Your Dog is Licking Your Ears
The desire for food is one of the main reasons dogs lick human ears. We need to remember that once we domesticate a dog, they will always have a “puppy like” dependency on us.
In the wild, dogs learn how to hunt for their food. Although the pack will often share food with each other, each dog is still responsible for hunting and feeding themselves. On the other hand, our domesticated dogs depend on us for food, care, shelter, and more.
Many people think when a dog licks us, that is their way of showing affection. That’s partially true, but the reality of the licking comes from an instinct they develop when they are puppies and learn to get their food from their mother. Puppies lick their mothers when they want food. When a dog licks you, it thinks you are the mother and is expecting food.
Dogs are pack animals, and like most pack animals, grooming is a way they bond with each other.
In the wild, dogs’ ears attract various insects because of the dark, warm, and moist environment. Dogs also have a powerful sense of smell and hearing, much stronger than that of humans. This means they can smell/hear the insects and lick the ears to clean them. It’s like a “you scratch my back, I scratch your back” type of behavior.
When we domesticate a dog, our families become their pack. A dog thinks every human member of the family is part of the pack. This is one of the many reasons dogs are considered the best pet for families.
Since your dog views you as part of the pack, “grooming” you is part of their social instinct.
They Like Earwax…Yuck!
Attraction to the smell and taste of earwax is another reason your dog favors licking your ear versus other parts of your body, such as your face, hands, or feet.
Some dogs have a sophisticated palate and might like the slightly bitter or salty taste of earwax. Some humans overproduce earwax, which produces a powerful scent that your dog can smell, but you or other members of your family can’t.
If your dog is attracted to this scent, he might lick your ears for the flavor. It sounds gross, but it’s normal behavior for dogs.
Can You Control This Behavior? Distraction Is The Key
Though some of us might be ok with dogs licking us in the ears, not everyone likes to get the big sloppy wet kisses from our beloved pets. The good news is there are a few ways you can curb this behavior. Whenever your dog begins licking your ears, you need to distract them with something else that will keep their attention.
One of the best ways to distract a dog is to use something like a Kong toy. Kong toys are made of rubber with a hollow center. They have small holes in them where you can place treats.
Your dog will be mentally stimulated by figuring out how to get the treats out of the toy. They’ll have to roll the toy around and use their tongue to get the food out of the small holes.
Eventually, your dog will get all the treats out of the toy, but by that time, they will have forgotten about licking your ears.
Going on Walks
Another distraction method is to take your dog on a walk when he starts licking your ear. Many dogs, especially puppies and young adult dogs, get very excited when they go on a walk.
My dog is one of these dogs. When he sees me get the leash, he gets very excited to go on a walk and starts jumping up and down. Even taking your dog for a simple five-minute walk can be an exciting experience for them.
We need to remember that when a dog goes on a walk, it is not just so he can do his business. The walk might be boring to us, but dogs are on a grand adventure each time they go out.
They’re sniffing the ground the entire time, they’ll catch the scent of another dog or animal in the area. They see sights they’ve never seen before and hear sounds they’ve never heard before. All this is more than enough to make them forget about licking your ears.
Your Dog Isn’t Weird
If your dog enjoys licking our ears, don’t worry, they aren’t weird. This is normal behavior for most dogs. In most cases, getting them to stop is a simple matter of saying “no” and pushing them back. However, if your dog persists, distracting them with a Kong Toy or a walk will do the trick.
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