If your dog has been sniffing your ears, 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 sniff my ears? Possible reasons why your dog sniffs your ears are that it has learned that the behavior gets rewarded, you have an unusual scent around your ears, it likes the smell of your ears, or that it is showing excitement.

There are actually a number of possible reasons why your dog has been sniffing your ears and it might be due to a combination of them. However, there are a number of things you can consider when figuring out the main cause and there are a number of things you can do about it.

Reasons why your dog sniffs your ears

Below are a number of possible reasons why your dog has been sniffing your ears and what would make each of them more likely to be the main cause.

Your dog has learned that sniffing your ears is rewarded

The cause could be that it has learned that the behavior gets rewarded. If you tend to give your dog things such as toys, treats, or extra attention, when it sniffs your ears, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.

Instead, it would help to reward your dog when it behaves the way you want it to and to avoid rewarding it when it does not.

To gather information

The most likely reason why it sniffs things a lot is that it has a strong sense of smell and sniffing things allows it to gather information about the thing it’s sniffing.

For example, the urine of other dogs will tell it where it has been, its health status and what it has been eating, this is the case for humans too. They can even pick up on the ovulation of humans which is why they will sniff females more during certain parts of the month (source).

You have an unusual scent around your ears

The cause might also be that you have an unusual scent on you. This would be more likely if it tends to sniff you more at specific times such as when you come back from a location that has weird smells or a lot of people such as a bar or restaurant.

Your dog likes the smell of your ears

The reason why it does it might also be that it likes the smell around your ears. This would be more likely if it does it more at a certain time such as when you have just washed your hair.

Excitement

The cause could be that it is showing its excitement. This would be more likely if it tends to sniff your ears when it is showing other signs of excitement and in situations such as when you arrive home.

One reason why excitement could be a cause is that it might want to greet you at the face. It could also be because puppies mothers would feed them from the face and they would jump up to get the food.

However, if it could be the case that there are other causes at play. For example, if it does it most when you arrive home, it would be more likely that it wants to gather information about where you have been.

Things to consider about your dog sniffing your ears

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 sniffing your ears

If your dog did not always sniff your ears, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it.

For example, if it started doing it when you first started working a new job, that involves interacting with lots of different people, it could be the case that your dog has been picking up on their scents on you. If it started doing it suddenly, it might also be the case that it learned that the behavior gets rewarded.

What else is different when your dog sniffs your ears

It would also help to consider if there is anything different in the timing that it tends to do it. For example, if it normally does it most when you arrive home, it would be more likely that it wants to know where you have been. Whereas, if it does it when you’re sat down, it might be showing excitement or because it has learned that the behavior gets rewarded.

What to do about your dog sniffing your ears

Below are some options you have when getting your dog to stop sniffing your ears.

Avoid encouraging the behavior

As mentioned above, it might be the case that your dog has learned that the behavior gets rewarded. Instead, it would help to give your dog rewards when it behaves the way you want it to. When it starts sniffing your ears, it would help to get up and wait for it to calm down before giving it attention.

Positive reinforcement training

Positive reinforcement training is where you encourage your dog to behave in a certain way by rewarding it when it shows signs of behaving that way. To use it to get your dog to stop sniffing your ears as much you could reward it whenever it is not sniffing you, stop rewarding it when it starts sniffing and reward it again after it stops sniffing.

To do this, you could stand up, wait for it to stop sniffing, and then give it attention. If your dog starts sniffing again, you would stand up again and wait for it to calm down before giving it attention again. Repeating this process should teach it that sniffing your ears results in it getting less attention.

Redirect its focus

Another option would be to redirect your dog’s focus onto something else when it seems likely to start sniffing your ears. Doing this should help to get your dog out of the habit of sniffing your ears.

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I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.