↓ Read on to watch this amazing video
Let’s face it; dogs are adorable and have many qualities that wow dog owners, friends, family, and even passers-by! But sometimes, they exhibit some odd and weird behaviors. Some of them are easy to understand, while others just make you want to ask why. Why do dogs lick each other’s ears?
Ear licking is something most dog lovers will no doubt notice when their dogs get along with other dogs. This behavior may seem odd at first, but it’s completely normal for dogs. Let us explain why this is and give you some tips on what to do if it becomes too much.
Why Do Dogs Lick Each Other’s Ears?
Dogs lick each other’s ears for a number of reasons. As a sort of icebreaker, a way to groom another canine, a desire to taste delicious earwax or an ear infection, or because they’re curious.
Here, you’ll be able to dig deeper into each issue and figure out when and how to gently convince them to focus on other things.
While it would be considered weird for a human to go around licking the ear of someone they just met, it’s normal in the canine world. Dogs are social animals, which means that the canine world operates within specific social structures and hierarchies.
Therefore, licking the ear when you meet another dog is an act of appeasement or an act of respect and kindness. Soothing behaviors include raising paws, avoiding eye contact, licking feet, licking other dogs’ faces, etc.
A friendly lick is usually quick and short, followed by other submissive body language and gestures.
Much to the distaste of most dog owners, dogs have been known to tend to dabble in the dark arts—the gross stuff. Dogs eat their own poop, chew their own feet, smell other dogs’ poop, and other questionable habits.
Licking ears just to enjoy the smell of earwax is one of those gross habits our canine friends indulge in. Apparently, dogs like salty foods, and like most bodily secretions, earwax is salty.
An ear canal mixture of salty earwax mixed with debris and dirt can be the reason many dogs can’t resist ear licking.
Dogs have reached new levels of nausea as they seem to be particularly interested in infected ears. Infected ears taste, smell, and feel differently, and for some odd reason they don’t seem to take in enough sound.
Canine ears are often plagued by yeast infections that produce a strange smell that some have likened to Fritos. And since your dog is sure to gobble up some Fritos when offered, it makes sense that a dog would jump at the chance to lick a yeast-infected ear.
Note: Dogs who engage in the business of ear licking for taste will lick deeper and more frequently than puppies who use it as a sign of appeasement. So if you’ve noticed that your dog has been searching for dirty treasure in their friend’s ears, it’s safe to assume they’re doing it out of taste.
While dogs may mess with something that will make you sick, they are also very hygienic. Like cats, dogs groom themselves by licking themselves. However, dogs cannot groom every part of their body, such as the ears themselves. That’s where canine friends come in.
So if your dog is licking the ears of a familiar dog or close companion, ear licking could be a sign of grooming. Although enjoying a little dirty snack in the process can serve as an incentive. This is a win-win situation for both dogs.
However, despite altruistic intentions, licking ears may lead to infection instead of cleaning ears. This is because bacteria tend to thrive in moist environments.
It’s rare, but sometimes ear licking can be the result of compulsive or compulsive ear licking. This behavior is when the dog incessantly licks itself or things around your home, such as bedding or the floor.
The object of the lick may sometimes be their canine companion, and often, the ear canal is the target area.
Dogs who lick compulsively will display a number of other compulsive behaviors, such as circling and staring at imaginary objects. Again, this is rare, but you should contact your veterinarian if you notice these symptoms.
next best thing
Like ear licking, butt sniffing is a way dogs greet each other. But some dogs protect their butts and don’t allow that. So ear licking becomes the next available option.
Due to the way they evolved in nature, dogs use their noses and mouths more to experience the environment.
A dog’s nose can smell to one part in a trillion. To put things in perspective, using the analogy of human vision, a dog will see more at 3000 miles away than you will see at a third of a mile away.
This means their powerful noses can easily detect changes in scent coming from their buddy’s ears. Their next move is usually a lick, not just because dogs can be rude, but because their sense of taste is a way of confirming curiosity.
Should you worry about licking your ears?
Now that you understand the various reasons why dogs lick each other’s ears, as a dog owner, you may be wondering if it’s safe. Well, the answer is yes and no.
A small amount of ear licking is perfectly normal canine behavior and can be likened to a handshake and a thumbs-up between acquaintances. Also, dogs that bond or engage in mutual grooming can go a step further with more ear licking.
However, like most things in life, it’s not good to overdo anything. Excessive ear licking can be problematic, and the ears will become visibly wet after prolonged licking. Persistently wet ears can lead to infection, leading to more ear licking.
Excessive ear licking can be a double-edged sword. If the ear is being treated, the licker may ingest too much bacteria or even medication.
The best course of action is to try to contain or control licking before it becomes a serious problem in the future. Here are some tips on how to do it:
Before addressing any behavioral issues, it’s right to make sure you don’t have any underlying medical conditions that could be causing ear licking. This will save you and your dog from wasting time and energy because no amount of behavior training will help with health issues.
So, look for changes in the dog’s ears that have been licked, such as wounds and infections. You also need to rule out the possibility of OCD and OCD. Seek the help of a veterinarian to help alleviate any concerns about the condition.
By redirecting, you’re basically replacing a good habit with a bad one. It’s like saying to your puppy it’s better to play with it than spend time in your buddy’s ears.
The alternative you offer should spark the same excitement they get from licking their ears. Interactive toys and lick pads are great for distracting your dog from licking.
Interactive toys are more effective than regular toys because your dog won’t get bored of them as quickly. Interactive toys are designed so that your dog must complete a task before being rewarded. This helps keep your dog interested and focused.
The lick pad is like a food puzzle; sprinkle some tasty treats like peanut butter on it and your pup will take the time to lick it off. With all the bends, crevices, and corners of the lick pad, it helps distract your dog for quite a while.
The appeal of the lick pad is that it best mimics ear licking and is also suitable for dogs who don’t like to play with toys.
Note: It is recommended to give your dog a lick pad or toy before he starts licking so that it is not mistaken for positive reinforcement for bad behavior.
When it comes to the canine world, it’s pretty normal for dogs to lick each other’s ears. But as a dog owner, you need to pay enough attention to your dog to know when licking is excessive.
When licking becomes excessive, you should see your veterinarian to help you develop a plan to curb the behavior and prevent future complications.
Ready to discover the top 10 cutest dog breeds in the world?
How about the fastest dogs, the biggest dogs, and those who are – quite frankly – just the kindest dogs on earth? Every day, AZ Animals sends out lists like this to our thousands of email subscribers. The best part? free. Join today by entering your email below.
I am broadly interested in how human activities influence the ability of wildlife to persist in the modified environments that we create.
Specifically, my research investigates how the configuration and composition of landscapes influence the movement and population dynamics of forest birds. Both natural and human-derived fragmenting of habitat can influence where birds settle, how they access the resources they need to survive and reproduce, and these factors in turn affect population demographics. Most recently, I have been studying the ability of individuals to move through and utilize forested areas which have been modified through timber harvest as they seek out resources for the breeding and postfledging phases. As well I am working in collaboration with Parks Canada scientists to examine in the influence of high density moose populations on forest bird communities in Gros Morne National Park. Many of my projects are conducted in collaboration or consultation with representatives of industry and government agencies, seeking to improve the management and sustainability of natural resource extraction.