Why Does My Dog Lick My Other Dogs’ Ears?

Dogs are known for their quirky behaviors, and one of the most fascinating is when they lick each other’s ears. It may seem bizarre and even a little disgusting, but there are actually several reasons why dogs engage in this behavior. So, why does your dog lick your other dog’s ears? Let’s explore the possible explanations.

The Taste of Wax

One possibility is that dogs simply enjoy the taste of earwax. Yes, it may sound gross, but earwax has a bitter and salty flavor that some dogs find appealing. In fact, if the earwax has a mild yeast infection, it can enhance the taste and make it even more irresistible. Earwax contains microbes, pollen, dead skin cells, and dirt, all of which contribute to its unique flavor. Additionally, dogs may crave the salt found in earwax, just like they crave salt found in other bodily secretions.

A Greeting Tradition

Ear licking has its roots in the age-old tradition of pack behavior. In the past, when dogs lived as pack animals, they used ear licking as a way to greet and show respect to their fellow pack members. This behavior was an essential part of building and maintaining social bonds. Although dogs are now domesticated, this instinct to greet and show affection through ear licking remains.

Part of Grooming

Like cats, dogs also groom themselves, and sometimes they need a little help to reach certain areas, such as their ears. Allowing another dog to lick their ears is a way for them to clean those hard-to-reach spots. Although it may seem gross to us, the dog getting their ears licked actually enjoys the attention. However, excessive licking can lead to ear infections, as the moisture created by constant licking provides a favorable environment for bacteria.

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Compulsive Behavior

In some cases, ear licking may be a sign of compulsive behavior in dogs. Just like dogs can compulsively lick surfaces or objects, they can also develop a compulsion to lick ears. If your dog displays other signs of compulsive behavior, such as circling, freezing, or incessant barking, it is best to seek help from a vet.

Boredom and Idleness

If your dog engages in ear licking when they are idle, it could be a way for them to alleviate boredom. Dogs are highly sensitive to smells, and they can detect changes in another dog’s ears. This curiosity may prompt them to start licking their companion’s ears, especially if they notice any signs of infection.

Affection and Bonding

Ear licking is also a way for dogs to show affection and bond with their family members. The behavior begins early in their lives when their mother licks them for bathing, feeding, and grooming. As they grow, dogs continue this behavior to express love and affection towards their human or canine family members.

Discouraging the Behavior

While a little ear licking is generally harmless, excessive or obsessive licking may require intervention. Here are a few strategies to discourage this behavior:

  • Rule Out Medical Conditions: First, make sure there are no underlying medical conditions causing the excessive ear licking. Check for signs of ear infections or other changes that may attract licking.
  • Distract the Dog: If your dog licks their companion’s ears out of idleness, provide them with toys or engage them in activities to keep their minds occupied.
  • Redirect the Behavior: Use short commands like “stop,” “leave it,” or “don’t do that” to redirect their attention away from ear licking.
  • Try Dog Training: Training your dog can be an effective way to address compulsive or obsessive behaviors, including ear licking.
  • Provide an Alternative: Offer your dog something else to lick, such as a bone or a lick mat with peanut butter. This can distract them and provide a soothing activity without causing any harm.
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In conclusion, ear licking is a peculiar behavior that dogs engage in for various reasons. While occasional ear licking is normal, excessive or compulsive licking should be addressed. If you’re unable to resolve the issue using home remedies, it’s best to consult a veterinarian for further guidance.

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