Puppies are all unique and have different quirks. Some jump around like the floor is lava, and others love burying themselves in mud. Along with licking you, puppies sometimes bite ears as well. But why do they? Let’s find out!
Why does my puppy bite my ears? Puppies bite ears to show affection and that they are comfortable in their surroundings. For the most part, it’s a display of grooming or playfulness. That being said it can also be a sign of dominance, boredom, or improper training.
So, is it okay to let your puppy bite your ears?
And, more importantly, what does it mean when your puppy does it?
Let’s explore, along with walking through some of the simple and practical approaches to limiting it.
Besides, it certainly can hurt!
Is It Normal For Puppies To Bite Ears?
It’s completely normal for puppies to bite ears. Puppies tend to bite ears as a sign of playfulness and affection, even amongst other dogs and animals. And biting your ears is no different.
As your puppy grows, they constantly learn about their environment through their senses of taste and smell.
Puppies use their mouths to learn about everything around them, whether this is licking, nibbling, or biting.
It’s normal for puppies to bite ears because of how easy it is to grab hold of them. And they also do this with other dogs and animals for a variety of reasons.
It’s usually done in a playful way to try to encourage you or another dog to have fun with them.
However, sometimes their biting can be hurtful even if they don’t mean to cause you pain.
Dogs nibble on ears to show affection and comfort towards you.
This behavior is seen in dog packs when a dog will nibble on another pack member’s ears to show affection and to show respect to the leader of the pack.
So, it makes sense that domesticated dogs will exhibit this behavior.
Sometimes puppies go through painful teething phases, so they will bite on your ears to relieve the pain.
It’s similar to giving a baby a teething ring. Puppies just need something to gnaw on to ease the pain that comes with teething.
Why Do Puppies Bite Ears Specifically?
Puppies specifically bite ears because it’s a common area to miss when grooming. And because of the smell and taste that they get from ears helps them learn more about you as well as taste nicely.
Dogs in packs usually help each other groom in hard-to-reach places, including the ears.
This behavior extends down to domesticated dogs and puppies, regardless of if it’s another dog or you that they groom.
Dogs, especially puppies, are very sensitive to new smells and are curious to find the source.
If a puppy smells a different scent around your ears, they’ll most likely start biting in the hopes of grooming you and discovering the change of smell.
This habit doesn’t mean that their owner is dirty; it could just simply be a change of shampoo or conditioner that the puppy is smelling and investigating.
Sometimes, puppies develop a liking for the smell and the bitter taste of ears, including the wax inside.
So, besides the fact that your puppy might be trying to tell you that you’re accepted into the pack or are trying to groom you, they might also be biting on your ears to taste some residual buildup of wax.
Should You Stop Your Puppy from Biting Your Ears?
Even though your puppy biting your ears isn’t harmful to them, it can become an irritant. Additionally, it can develop from a playful habit to an aggressive one as they age. It’s recommended to stop your puppy from biting your ears as soon as you can.
Regardless of how your puppy starts acting when they begin biting your ears, it can become an annoyance after a while for the owner.
Even if it’s a display of acceptance, grooming, excitement, or submission, your puppy biting your ears can easily lead to hurtful nips and ear infections.
As your puppy ages and becomes more confident, they may start to test the boundaries of dominance with you.
A way they challenge leadership is by biting your ears more forcefully to get you to move, especially if it’s accompanied by growling.
Another reason to stop your puppy from biting your ears is the potential to spread ear infections.
Be mindful of is how often your puppy bites your ears and if they’re biting and licking other animal ears.
Moving their ear-biting behavior from person to person or animal to person provides the perfect opportunity for the cause of ear infections to spread.
Yeast thrives in moist areas so having your puppy constantly licking and biting your ears, especially when they’re doing it with other animals, will increase the chances of developing and spreading ear infections.
How Do I Stop My Puppy From Biting My Ears?
You can stop your puppy from biting your ears by using positive discouragement, strict training, and deterrents.
As with any training, teaching your puppy to stop bad habits (like biting ears) will take time and consistency.
Find The Cause
One of the first steps in stopping your puppy from biting your ears is to see where the origin of the habit comes from.
Not only do puppies bite your ears in a playful way, but they may also be biting them because they’re bored, they need something from you, or they’re overly excited or nervous.
Keep Them Busy
Dogs need plenty of mental stimulation to keep happy, and puppies are no different.
If you notice your puppy is biting your ears out of boredom, introduce chew toys and puzzle toys to help keep them entertained.
Providing them with chew toys will help soothe any teething problems your puppy has as well.
Keep Up The Exercise
Depending on the age and breed, their boredom may stem from not getting enough exercise.
Without being able to burn off their energy, they will easily grow bored and nibble on your ears to entertain themselves.
Perhaps your puppy bites your ears as a sign that they need more food or need to go outside to relieve themselves.
If this is the case, you can fix this by changing the frequency of their meals or through training them to let you know of their needs differently.
Some owners train their dogs to bark to certain cue words like ‘potty’ or run in a small circle when they need to go outside, or they’re hungry.
Keep Them Calm
Sometimes dogs can get overly excitable or nervous, especially if they’re in a new environment or around new people.
It’s best to let them calm down away from these stressors before you reintroduce them to the new space or people.
It’s not uncommon for your puppy to become ecstatic when you come home, or you’re about to bring them on a walk.
If they’re jumping up on you and biting your ears at these times, then you know this is the cause.
The same might be seen when your puppy is nervous, for example, if they’re around children or the elderly.
Giving them the opportunity to calm down before giving them affection will help curb their biting behavior.
Whatever the reason is for why your puppy biting your ears, consistent training is the best option to stop this habit.
When your puppy tries to bite your ears, walk away from them for a minute or two until they’ve had a chance to calm down.
Essentially, this puts them into a timeout, teaching them this biting habit loses your attention and is bad.
Along with giving them a timeout, reacting to their bites with a firm ‘no’ or with a whimpering sound like a dog will reinforce that it’s a bad thing.
This teaches the puppy that their biting is causing pain and trains them to moderate the strength of their bite. Or stop it altogether.
However, it’s important to reward your puppy with a treat when they’re making exceptional improvements in their ear-biting behavior to encourage them onwards.
You can also train your puppy to stop biting your ears by refocusing their attention to another activity like a chew toy or bringing them for a walk.
A word of caution, though. This method could inadvertently encourage ear-biting, especially if they enjoy the distraction.
However, if your puppy doesn’t like walks, bringing them on little walks when they go for your ears will teach them to associate biting with negativity.
Consider A Dog Trainer
If none of these methods work after trying them for a sufficient time, or if your puppy is being overly aggressive, it could be time to look for a dog trainer for professional advice.
Whatever way you decide to train your puppy to stop biting your ears, it’s crucial to never get physical with your puppy and to be consistent in their training.
A surprising tactic some puppy owners have chosen is using a harmless but horrible tasting spray on the outside of their ears.
This is particularly useful when the main reason a puppy is biting ears is that they enjoy the taste or smell.
Puppies learn the world through their keen senses of smell and taste.
Biting ears, whether yours or another family pet’s, is normal, but it can grow to become an annoyance.
Discovering the source of the habit, along with consistent training, will successfully curb their ear-biting behavior.
Have other questions about puppy biting or other related behavior? Well, my following guides may be of help:
- Why Does My Puppy Bite His Tail?
- Why Does My Puppy Lunge At My Face?
- Why Does My Puppy Bite His Paws?
- Why Does My Puppy Bite Me When I Pet Him?
- Why Does My Puppy Growl When I Pick Him Up?
- Why Does My Puppy Have Hiccups?
- Why Does My Puppy Pee In Her Sleep?
- Why Does My Puppy Lick My Feet?
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.