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Why Does My Dog Lick My Ears?

Ever wondered why your furry friend keeps licking your ears? It’s a curious and rather common behavior that’s baffled many a pet parent over the years. In this article, I’ll dive into the reasons our canine companions indulge in this habit, offering an understanding of what it signifies in dog language. Let’s get to it, and uncover the mystery behind those wet nose kisses on your ear!

Reasons Why Dogs Lick Ears

Dogs licking ears is a behavior that’s fairly common. Dogs develop various habits as a sign of affection, to seek attention or comfort, as part of their natural habits as social creatures, or in the case of ear licking, due to taste or scent attraction

Sign of Affection

Many dogs use licking as a heartfelt sign of affection. This is similar to how humans hug or kiss to show love – your dog licks precisely because they’ve learned humans respond positively to it, so they carry on.

This display of bonding and affection originates from the time when they were puppies, using licking as a primal gesture towards their mother. Licking shares a dual purpose for dogs – not just expressing love but also strengthening social ties within the pack.

A dog licking a man

Seeking Attention or Comfort

Dogs often use licking as a way to get your attention. If your pup seems to lick your ears more when you’re busy or distracted, they may be trying to tell you they need some TLC. Dogs are pack animals and find security within their group. So if your dog’s licking is in tandem with some quirky behaviors, it may feel stressed or anxious and is looking for reassurance from its favorite human – you!

Natural Grooming Behavior

Dogs often engage in occasional ear licking as part of their pack mentality. This activity serves multiple purposes for dogs – such as cleaning, bonding with other pack members, and expressing hierarchy status.

Dogs lick each other’s ears to keep them clean and remove debris such as ear wax that might have gotten lodged inside the ear canal during play or an adventure outside. They then carry this behavior usually reserved for animals’ ears over to humans they consider part of their ‘pack’.

Coupled with the taste attraction of the salt content on our skin, your dog licking your ears can be a sign it sees you as a member of its family and is just taking care of you the same way it would with another dog. And that means an affectionate mutual grooming session!

Taste or Scent Attraction

Dogs have a powerful sense of smell, and sometimes they lick ears because they are attracted to the taste or scent. Your ear may have residue from food, lotion, or even sweat that your dog finds intriguing.

A dog licking a child

They might also be drawn to the natural oils and wax in your ear canal. While it can seem strange to us humans, licking ears is just another way for dogs to explore their environment and satisfy their curiosity through taste and smell.

How to Properly Respond to Your Dog’s Ear Licking

To understand why your dog is licking your ears, it’s crucial to determine what’s making them engage in this behavior – as we’ve seen, there could be a number of factors behind the licking. The best way to do this is to pay close attention to your best pet pal’s body language, while setting boundaries, keeping them well groomed, and redirecting their behavior if you need to. These steps are crucial, so let’s take a deep dive into each one.

Observe your Dog’s Body Language

Pay close attention to your dog’s body language to better understand their needs and emotions. Watch for cues such as tail position, ear placement, facial expressions, and overall posture.

These signals can tell you if your dog is feeling happy, anxious, fearful, or aggressive. By observing their body language, you can respond appropriately and create a safe and comforting environment for your furry friend.

Dogs communicate mainly through non-verbal cues, so being attentive to their body language is crucial in building a strong bond with them.

A dog with a long tongue out

Set Boundaries Around Ear Licking

If your furry friend’s ear licking is becoming a problem, it’s important to set clear boundaries for your dog and redirect their behavior. When your dog starts to lick your ears or someone else’s, firmly say “no” and gently push them away.

This will let them know that this behavior is not acceptable. It may also be helpful to provide an alternative activity or toy that they can chew or lick instead. For example, you can offer them some treats or a puzzle toy that requires mental stimulation.

By redirecting their attention and providing an appropriate outlet for their licking behavior, you can help discourage ear licking in a positive way. And if you need more professional help, you can always consult a dog trainer if their behavior doesn’t improve.

How To Keep Your Dog’s Ears Clean

It’s important to to take care of your own pup’s ears when they’re regularly licking your – or another dog’s – ears. Remember, this is a common behavior for dogs and so their ears have probably been recently licked by other dogs, too. Regularly clean them using a vet-approved cleaner and cotton balls, being careful not to go too deep into the ear canal.

Use a gentle touch and reward your dog with treats or praise during the process to make them more comfortable. Additionally, keeping your dog’s fur trimmed around the ears can help reduce moisture buildup and risk of ear infections.

Minimize Your Dog’s Stress and Discomfort

Dogs communicate their stress and discomfort through various signs, which can help us understand their emotional state. Look out for physical cues such as panting, pacing, excessive drooling, or trembling that accompanies their ear licking.

Provide plenty of quality time together, engage in gentle physical contact like petting or cuddling, and create a space where your dog feels safe and protected. This will strengthen the bond between you, and help curb their ear licking antics if they’re being caused by an anxiety or behavioral issue.

A dog with its tongue out being petted

When Should You See a Vet?

If your dog has redness, swelling, odor, or discharge around their ears – and is licking your ears or another dog’s ears more than usual – it’s definitely time for a vet visit. Your dog may have issues like an ear infection or parasites if you notice these changes.

Key Takeaways

  • Dogs lick ears as a sign of affection and to strengthen social bonds within their pack.
  • Licking ears can also be a way for dogs to seek attention, comfort, or groom themselves naturally.
  • Dogs may be attracted to the taste or scent of your ears, but obsessive licking could indicate underlying health issues.
  • To respond to excessive licking, determine the cause, observe your dog’s body language, maintain proper grooming and hygiene, set boundaries and redirect behavior if needed, and seek veterinary advice if necessary.


In this post, we’ve seen how there are several reasons why your dog may lick your ears. It could be a sign of affection, a way to seek attention or comfort, or simply a natural behavior.

However, it’s important to observe your dog’s body language and respond appropriately. Remember to maintain proper grooming and hygiene, set boundaries for licking behavior, and consult with a veterinarian if necessary. Understanding your dog’s body language will help strengthen the bond between you and ensure their wellbeing.