If you have multiple dogs living in your home or have had your dogs around other dogs, you may have noticed some strange behaviors along the way, one of them might be licking each other’s ears one time or another. This action of course may lead you to a few different questions, such as – “Why do dogs lick each other’s ears?” “Is this safe?” “Should I train my dog to stop doing this?”
This action is not standard for humans, so seeing this may be a little alarming. Trying to figure out our pets’ behavior is a favorite pastime for many of us. While no one can be sure what’s going on in our pets’ minds, we can get a pretty good idea. But don’t worry, we’ve got answers to all of the above questions and more!
Before scrolling down this guide, check out this topic: Why Is My Dog Licking The Floor? Expert Answers!
The Reason Why Dogs Lick Each Other’s Ears
There are a number of reasons why your dogs could be licking each other’s ears. This can range from a leftover pack mentality, keeping clean, or getting each other’s attention. Whatever the reason, most of these are completely harmless and should bring no alarm. Now, let’s dive a little deeper into why dogs lick other dogs’ ears.
The first reason why a dog may be licking another’s ear dates back centuries. Dogs, in most cases, are very friendly creatures that love to show affection not only to humans but to other dogs as well. Believe it or not, the behavior of licking ears is dogs’ way of greeting. This can mean “Hello! Who are you!” or “Look at me! I love you!” Think of it as sort of a handshake, high five, or a hug in the human world.
Years and years ago, before we began to domesticate dogs, they were pack animals. Ear licking between dogs derives its origins from those past times. During a pack reunion, dogs would establish their presence among their companions and let the others know they were there by licking each other’s ears. Even though this was centuries ago, dogs are still pack animals with a pack mentality, meaning that although they may not live with a giant group of other dogs, they still carry those tendencies with them in their everyday behaviors, this includes ear licking! Additionally, When they were puppies, your dogs were constantly being bathed and groomed by their mother so it is just natural for them to continue this example with their extended family as a form of affection.
Helping Their Friend Keep Clean
The second reason why your dog may be licking someone else’s ear or getting their ear licked is more technical and practical than the first. Just as you have probably seen monkeys grooming each other and picking bugs off of others in their packs, dogs are doing the same when they lick each other’s ears. While licking oneself clean might be something you think is solely reserved for cats, dogs do it too, and if you think about how your dog moves, their ears are an area on their body that they are unable to reach. Thus, they need the help of a friend to keep this area clean. Just like our own ears, dog ears produce wax which needs to come out at some point. Dogs can also get debris such as dirt, lint, etc. caught in their ears. Next time you see a friend, maybe you should offer to clean their ear – we’re sure they’d appreciate it!
Sign of Respect
Going back to dogs having leftover pack mentality, showing respect for one another is a big concept among dogs. Surely, you’ve heard the term “Alpha” or “Beta” of the pack, these are the dominant and submissive roles within a pack, respectively. One dog licking another dog’s ear could signal they are showing respect to the alpha dog. Alternatively, an alpha may lick a subordinate’s ear to signal they have done a good job completing a task. Of course, completing a task may have referred to hunting in the days of dogs living in a pack, which they don’t have to worry about now that we promptly put kibble in their bowls.
As you are probably aware, dogs require a great deal of attention, from both their humans and their other companions. Another reason your dogs are licking each other’s ears could be one dog’s way of getting attention from the other. For example, If one dog is sleeping, the other may choose to lick their ear to wake them gently. Or, if both dogs are awake, one dog may lick the other’s ear to convince them to play. Think of this as them saying “Hey! C’mon friend! Let’s Play!” If you notice that your dogs start running around or wrestling after being licked, this is most likely the reason for the behavior. As we mentioned before, your dogs remember the days when they were bathed and groomed by their mother, so this behavior carries into adulthood and is used in many different ways, including communicating that they need attention.
Sign of Infection
As we all know, all dogs are born with an acute sense of smell.SInce the domestication of dogs, their excellent smelling skills have been put to good use for hunting, sniffing out drugs or explosives for police officers, or even searching for people buried in rubble after an earthquake. Believe it or not, dogs also have a nose for sniffing out infection. So, if your dog suddenly becomes keen to relentlessly lick another dog’s ear, it could mean that the pup is suffering from an ear infection. Ear infections cause a discharge to occur, and it creates an odor that can attract other dogs. If you notice this, it may be beneficial to take both dogs to see your trusted veterinary professional as soon as you can to get them checked out. They’ll be able to give them a diagnosis and methods for care to cure your dog’s ear.
Is This Behavior Harmful?
As you have gathered, most of the reasons on our list for why your dog is licking another’s ears are innocent and friendly, so in most cases, this behavior is completely normal and sometimes healthy for your dogs to do to each other. If this is a quick or infrequent behavior between your dogs, this behavior is no cause for worry or interference. But, as with most things, too much can be harmful or dangerous. It is important to keep an eye out for how frequently or relentlessly your dogs are licking each other’s ears for a few reasons.
First, excess moisture in your dog’s ear canal is not ideal. This can lead to an infection. Additionally, the act of having a tongue constantly moving over a dog’s ear can cause soreness in their lobes. (Just like the pressure of wearing a heavy earring on your ear). Something that could prevent infections from this is drying off your dogs ears once they have stopped licking.
Another alternative would be to completely train this behavior out of your dog. This can be done similar to most training methods, try distracting your dog with a toy or bone when they start to lick each other’s ears. Additionally, you can give them treats or pets once they have redirected their attention to signal positive reinforcement. If these positive methods do not do the trick and the ear licking is getting uncontrollable, you can try rubbing a bit of bitter spray on the ears of the offended dog. This will make their ear taste very bad to the other dog, which will quickly stop the behavior.
Conclusion for “Why Do Dogs Lick Each Other’s Ears?”
In summary, we all love to theorize why our dogs do what they do. It can be fun to imagine what is going through their heads! In the quest to figure out why your dogs may be licking each other’s ears, we covered a number of reasons for this behavior. These can range from a leftover pack mentality, keeping clean or getting each other’s attention. In order to pinpoint the exact reason, it is a good idea to pay attention to what your dogs do following the ear licking. Most likely, your dog is in no harm, but there are a few cases where this behavior signals an infection or health issue with one of your dogs. In order to ensure every pup is completely safe, we always recommend taking a visit to your vet to confirm the health of your furry companion. We hope you enjoyed this journey to figure out, “Why do dogs lick each other’s ears?”
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Garrett loves animals and is a huge advocate for all Doodle dog breeds. He owns his own Goldendoodle named Kona. In addition, he volunteers at the Humane Society of Silicon Valley, where he fosters dogs and helps animals. Garrett enjoys writing about Doodles and believes that dogs can teach humans more about how to live than humans can teach a dog.
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