If your dog has been licking your ears a lot, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you a number of possible causes and what you can do about them.
So, why does my dog lick my ears? Possible reasons why your dog licks your ears are that the behavior is rewarded, it likes the taste, it’s looking for attention, it is being affectionate, it is grooming you or that it is excited.
Since there are a number of possible causes, it would help to consider what would make each of them more likely. Once you have a good idea of the cause, it should become easier to figure out what to do about it.
Why your dog licks your ears
Below are a number of possible reasons why your dog has been doing it and what would make them more likely to be the main reason.
Encouraging the behavior
The reason why your dog has been doing it could be that it has learned that the behavior gets rewarded. If you tend to give your dog things such as extra attention, toys or treats, when it licks your ears, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.
It likes the taste
It is likely that your ears have a strong taste on them. It could be the case that your dog has been doing it because it likes the way that your ears taste. This would be more likely if it tries to lick your ears a lot specifically and if it does not try to lick other parts of your body much such as your ears.
It’s looking for attention
The cause might be that it is looking for attention. This would be more likely if it does it more when you have not been giving it much attention and if you tend to give it more attention when it does it.
Instead, it would help to give it attention throughout the day by playing with it, training it and exercising it but to avoid rewarding it with attention when it licks your ears by redirecting its behavior when it starts.
When dogs are young, one of the first ways that they will explore the world is by licking and sniffing things. If your dog is a puppy then it is likely to be the case that it is exploring when it is licking your ears. The habit of licking things will stay with it as it gets older which is why they will naturally lick quite often. However, it is still the case that the behavior can be reduced with the use of training.
It might also be the case that it does it because it is being affectionate. When it’s licking you it’s letting you know that it trusts you and that you are a part of its tribe. This type of licking is normal and will often happen when you try to pet it.
Dogs will often groom themselves by licking. They will also groom others such as when a mother dogs licks her puppies. This is could be why your dog has been licking your ears. This would be more likely if it tries to lick you when you are not petting it.
The reason why it licks your ears could be that it is excited. This would be more likely if it tends to do it in situations where it gets very excited such as when you come home or when it is going out for a walk.
In this case, it would help to avoid doing the thing that it gets excited about and to wait for it to stop licking your ears before continuing.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider when figuring out the main reason why your dog has been doing it.
What else happened when your dog first started licking your ears
If your dog did not always lick your ears, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it since it might be the case that there was an event that caused it to start.
If it started doing it suddenly, it could be due to things such as learning that it gets rewards for doing it or if you stopped giving it as much attention causing it to do things to get you to give it more attention.
What is different in the timing of when it tends to do it
It would also help to consider the timing of when it licks your ears. If it tends to do it more when you arrive home, it would be more likely to be due to things such as excitement and it would help to ignore it until it stops licking and then to reward it for not licking.
What to do about your dog licking your ears
Below are some things you can do in order to get your dog to stop licking your ears.
Avoid encouraging the behavior
As mentioned above, it could be the case that your dog has learned that it gets rewards for licking your ears. It would help to stop giving it rewards or attention, when it starts licking your ears, then to give it attention again once it has stopped and it is being calm.
Train it not to do it
Positive reinforcement training is where you get your dog to do things that you want by rewarding it for doing them or showing signs of doing them.
To use positive reinforcement training to get it to stop licking your ears you would:
- Stand up and turn away, when it starts licking your ears, leaving the room if necessary.
- Wait a few moments and then go back to giving it attention and then turning away again if it starts licking your ear
- Repeat the above until it learns that licking your ear causes it to lose your attention
- Reward it with a treat when it does particularly well
Give it distractions
In addition to the above, you could also give it things to be distracted by so that it is less likely to lick your ears. Things to give it would include toys, bones or puzzle games.