Why Does My Dog Nibble On My Ear? Learn Why And What To Do

As your furry pet dog grows up, it may display some surprising behavior. It can be seen as playful and sweet. It may sometimes seem demanding and attention-seeking. There’s no easy way to predict the actions of your pet. One of the most common surprises your dog can display is when they start to nibble your ear out of nowhere. 

Don’t worry so much about this behavior if it’s the first time. There are a variety of reasons for this action.

Why does my dog nibble on my ear? The most common reason is that your pet dog is trying to play with you by inducing frisky behavior. Another reason is that your dog is still a puppy growing up. Their curiosity and grooming instincts may also cause the nibbles that you experience. If your dog is not doing it to be curious and sweet, they are doing it because they urgently need you, and it’s their form of communication.

Playtime and boredom in dogs

Playtime and boredom in dogs

The most common reason is that your pet needs to play. Dogs are creatures that need physical stimulation to stay on track with their energy. If your dog is nibbling on your ear, one of the easiest things you can do is have playtime. You can do it by going outside or going for a run in the neighborhood.

Why does my dog nibble on my ear? When your dog nibbles you for the reason of boredom, that feeling stops when they’re doing something else like examining the outside surroundings. Playtime and boredom also go hand in hand. Your dog has lots of energy, and nibbling your ear is one of the ways they tell you that they want to do something else besides sit down.

When you take your pet out, do it in moderation and appropriate schedule as it may set them to an impulse. Nibbles are not always equal to playtime. Remember, nibbling isn’t only to signify boredom. Sometimes, they have other reasons that are wrongly acted upon with playtime.

Dog growth and developing instincts

From the moment dogs are born, they are like people, absorbing and learning behavior from their surroundings. What does it mean when a dog nibbles on you? As they grow up into a dog, a puppy learns to do things with their teeth.

Puppies are more prone to this as they try to make sense of their environment. They can start with chewing the toys you give to holding their food bowl with their teeth. This progresses with their attitude towards you. Growing puppies are also in the stage of their teeth development. This stage of their development can be painful, and as such, they tend to nibble to deal with the pain.

Puppies that are growing also learn to bite and use their growing teeth when they nibble. They can do this while having your ear near around for them to practice on. Prepare yourself for some surprising sharp sensations, especially if the puppy is turning into a dog already. The nibbling may also increase if there are other pets or puppies inside your house that they are growing up with. Watch out for interactions with other figures in the household.

Dog ear nibbling: Curiosity influences

When you were young, you were curious about the world and how it works. It’s always a wonder to know how to do things for the first time or find use with things around. Your dog is experiencing the same things every day. When they’re always near you, they tend to study you a lot, and one of the manifestations of these “dog curiosities” is by nibbling your ear.

Do note that this doesn’t always mean that your pet wants to go out and play. If it’s their first time to be very near you and they end up getting your ear scent or see your near ear accessory, they’ll want to know about it. 

If you have a foreign scent and it’s their first time smelling it, they will use their senses to understand it. This behavior is often paired with a lot of sniffing and licking, which can also turn into cordial affection.

Your dog studies you as much as you learn about them every day. Curiosity influences also drive a dog in some way to understand circumstances and space. Why does my dog nibble on my ear? They nibble it because there’s something different or new about you from time to time.

Dog grooming

Dog grooming ear nibble
Image courtesy of Hetoq

Many animals like to groom themselves when they’re on their downtime. Have you ever observed your dog licking its body and settling down a bit in the corner? When they’re done and move over to you, they start nibbling and licking your ear too. It can be gross and disgusting for you but lessen your worries as this is typical dog behavior.

Grooming is a way dogs can clean themselves. This kind of behavior is also very typical with other animals like cats. When you have a female dog undergoing maternal instincts, you will observe this action more openly. Dogs like to groom their younglings, but they will do it to you when they want to.

Urgent necessities

A nibbling dog doesn’t only signal boredom, growth, or curiosity. So nibbling is one of the best ways to get your attention. Dogs use a variety of actions when they have urgent necessities. This can start from consistent barking or howling low. Always try to get a feel of what your dog is telling you.

When they start to nibble you, it may mean they’re hungry, and they need food immediately. It may also mean they’re hurt and require serious medical attention. Don’t disregard nibbling as some minor attention detail. 

When you start to wonder why does my dog lick then nibble me? It can mean they need serious attention-seeking without turning into aggression.

The best way to coax you into understanding what they need is by gently but attentively giving you cue signals. When your pet tries to bring you somewhere or signify what they want, please don’t dismiss it immediately. Dogs are highly emotional beings. They also feel distressed, separation anxiety, and urgency.

If there are other reasons for your dog’s behavior, be sure to note them over time. Dogs display a lot of patterns that bridge as a way of communication. They may have a different way of expressing a particular cause. It doesn’t start and end with nibbling your ear, although it is one of the most common forms of telling you things.

The verdict: Is ear nibbling good or bad?

Good for Bad ear  nibbling

If it’s your first time experiencing the behavior, nibbling can be ticklish and gross at best. It’s understandable if you feel off-put or weirded out about it as it can become a sensitive action. If you have hygiene concerns, the deed can be distressing. However, you take the nibbling; there is one thing you should never do. Never yell and turn aggressive towards your dog!

The aggression you give off can start into a mess. You’ll be in danger, and you’ll get a very protective pet that will not be likened to your behavior. Your dog also needs an understanding yet commanding authority that doesn’t equate to threatening perceptions like fear and danger.

As nibbling is an innate behavior, it is neither good nor bad. It’s just dog behavior, and it’s one of the most accessible forms of communication to let you know their current disposition. 

It’s best to train them about the nibbling behavior because when they grow up, the nibbling may come off as hurtful to other people or other pets in the household.

If you want to lessen the ear nibbling with your pet, many methods can help you address the problem. Here are several ways for you to address their ear nibbling:

Give them a toy

Give them a designated chew toy every time they attempt to nibble your ear. This will divert their attention and nibble on the chew toy instead. They will eventually associate the chew toy with nibbling unless they have urgent needs that require immediate attention.

Set a play and exercise time

Take them out for a set time for play and exercise outside your house. Having this will release their stored energy that they are only able to take out via nibbling your ear. Your dog can also use this as a signal to tell you that it’s time for us to go outside.

Use verbal instructions and reward

Give them a firm refusal that doesn’t give off a threatening atmosphere. You aim to relax them enough, so they understand that you don’t like the behavior. You can do this by looking them in the eye and commanding them “NO” and giving other orders such as “SIT” or “RELAX.” 

Unless they are in urgent need, they will stop nibbling on your ear and understand your distaste for it. Never use commands in a tone that will associate with a hostile and scary voice.

You can use the nibbling as a form of reinforcement. If you order them to stop and they follow through, give a couple of moments to treat them so they don’t use the nibbling as an encouraging behavior.

When your dog nibbles your ear, they’re doing it just because or they have legitimate reasons. Either way, take their entire body language to assess their reason for nibbling your ear. The nibbling action almost always goes with other dog behaviors such as licking and sniffing. Dogs can become easy to coach if you know them well enough.