If you’re a multi-dog household owner, you’ve probably noticed one of the most intriguing behaviors: one dog obsessively licking the ears of another. While this might seem puzzling to you, it’s a common behavior among our canine friends. So, why does your dog lick your other dog’s ears? Let’s investigate this question and uncover the science and psychology behind this behavior.
Why Does My Dog Lick My Other Dog’s Ears? Some possible reasons
The Natural Instinct
Before domestication, dogs were wild animals that heavily relied on their instincts for survival. These instincts manifest in many ways in our modern-day pets, and licking is one such behavior. In the wild, licking was primarily a form of grooming, a way to clean those hard-to-reach places. By licking another dog’s ears, they’re essentially helping with hygiene in areas the other dog may find challenging to clean themselves.
Bonding and Affection
Dogs are pack animals. In the wild, they thrived in groups, forming intricate social hierarchies and relationships. Licking, particularly within packs, was a way to foster bonds and show affection. When your dog licks your other dog’s ears, it can be a sign of camaraderie and trust. They’re telling their companion, “I’ve got your back,” or in this case, “I’ve got your ears.”
Taste and Scent
Let’s face it, dogs have an entirely different perspective on what tastes good. The earwax and debris found in a dog’s ear can be appealing to some dogs. Beyond this, the ear is a significant source of pheromones, which give insight into the emotional and physical state of the dog. By licking the ears, a dog can get a better understanding of their companion’s wellbeing.
In the dog world, showing submission is vital in maintaining peace and hierarchy within a pack. Licking, especially around the face and ears, can be a sign of submissiveness. The dog doing the licking might be communicating, “I respect and acknowledge your position.”
While many of the reasons dogs lick each other’s ears are harmless, consistent and obsessive ear licking can signal an underlying issue. Dogs have a keen sense of smell and can detect infections or inflammations. If one dog has an ear infection, the other might be trying to soothe or clean the affected area. If you notice excessive licking, it’s essential to check the recipient dog’s ears for signs of infection or any other ailments.
Curbing Excessive Ear Licking
If ear licking becomes a problem or if you’re concerned about potential health risks, there are a few things you can do:
- Regular Vet Check-ups: Ensure both dogs are getting regular check-ups to rule out infections or other health issues.
- Distraction: When you notice one dog starting to lick the other’s ears excessively, distract them with toys or play.
- Positive Reinforcement: Reward your dog when they engage in behaviors other than ear licking, encouraging a shift in focus.
Understanding the reasons behind your dog’s behavior can help deepen the bond between you and your furry friend. While ear licking is generally a harmless and instinctual behavior, always keep an eye out for signs of underlying issues. Ensure your dogs are in good health, and embrace the quirks and intricacies of their behavior – after all, it’s part of what makes them so endearing.