6 Reasons Your Dog Nibbles Your Ears and What To Do

by Stuart | Last Updated:   February 4, 2021
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As a dog owner, I’m sure that you have experienced behaviours from your dog that have you asking “why?”.

Such actions could be from them sleeping on the floor when they have a perfectly plush bed near them or coming up to you and nibbling on your ears!

Why does my dog nibble my ear?

Dogs tend to put everything into their mouths, and when they go for your hands, arms, or ears, that is them exploring what they can do with you. With playful and gentle nibbling, nibbling shouldn’t be looked at as dangerous.

If you find that your dog is playfully nibbling on you, he or she is most likely trying to show you some affection or to get you to engage in playing along with them.

However, this behaviour may lead to aggressive biting once your dog grows older.

Man in wheat field, afternoon light, holding Jack Russell terrier puppy on hands, moving his head away, because dog is licking and chewing cheek and ear.

Reasons Why Your Dog Might Be Nibbling Your Ears

Some causes can be that your dog is simply a playful canine. Perhaps your dog is trying to show you affection. Your dog could also be trying to groom you, or they are so comfortable around you that your dog is showing that to you by biting softly on your ears.

There are so many reasons why this is happening. It may even be a combination of something.

When trying to figure out the cause of this behaviour, there are so many options to consider but also many things you can do about them. This article will reveal some reasons why dogs do it and what you can do to get it to stop.

It would be best if you considered the below things to better figure out the main reason your dog nibbles.

1. You Have a Young Puppy

If you have a puppy on your hands, they most likely have discomfort in the teeth/gums, and nibbling on something helps relieve it during their teething phase. It is best to practice positively discouraging this behaviour.

2. Your Dog Is Generally Really Playful

Suppose you have a relatively playful pup in general. In that case, this behaviour is most likely due to their active traits, but if you don’t want them to nibble or bite continually, you should train them to prevent this.

3. Your Dog Is Simply Overzealous

Your dog could be doing this if it is excited. In situations where you arrive home and your dog jumps on you, or when you’re about to walk it, this could be the reason for the nibbling. In this case, you could try waiting for it to calm down before giving it what it wants.

4. Your Dog May Need Something from You

Your dog is possibly telling you they need something. It’s possible that they could be nibbling your ears to indicate that they would like to eat or just needs to go to the bathroom.

5. You Have a Dominant or Aggressive Dog

They could be doing it for dominance. This behavior can lead to bullying. The dog would ultimately try to get you to move with it and display signs of aggression when doing it.

6. Your Dog Is Lacking the Proper Training It Needs

If you do not give your dog proper training, it will not know how to behave appropriately. The best way to be sure your dog is properly trained is to visit an appropriate dog training school to resolve this issue.

Dog Training

  • The Emmy-winning host of “Lucky Dog”, Brandon McMillan is an expert trainer dedicated to building relationships between humans and animals. In his MasterClass, Brandon shares his simple, effective training system to help you develop trust and control with your dog.

Mouthing Versus Nibbling For Dogs

Most people don’t actually know what Mouthing is. Mouthing is more of a grabbing and chewing behavior using their mouth, not so much his teeth.

Mouthing can look like biting, except your dog isn’t meaning to hurt you in the sense that a bite does. It usually starts as a game but can develop into a more aggressive and hostile behavior as they get older. Hence, it would be best if you stopped it as soon as you can.

In general, you don’t have to worry about nibbling because it’s typically harmless. In fact, this is very normal for dogs to do. You might notice that your dog nibbles other dogs with its front teeth during play, and when they nip too hard, the other dog yelps in pain and stops the playing, this teaches a dog bite inhibition.

However, suppose your dog doesn’t learn bite inhibition at a young age. In that case, it will have a difficult time as an adult dog to distinguish if it is hurting someone or another dog.

How To Discourage Your Dog From Nibbling On Your Ears

One thing to note is to be mindful of a dog that may have these tendencies while around children or the elderly. Try waiting for your dog to calm down before giving it what it wants, or avoid giving it reasons to feel threatened.

Try to decipher what happened that your dog’s behaviour changed to biting or nibbling on your ear. Do you provide your dog with toys, treats, or increased attention when it behaves this way?

If so, your dog will become accustomed to receiving these rewards and reenacting this behaviour more to get more rewards.

Don’t want to take your pet to a training school? We know it can be difficult and costly, so take a look at the below list of do-it-yourself ideas to try to train your dog to stop nibbling on your ears effectively!

Tip #1

Never get physical with your dog because it most likely will lead to aggressive behaviours. However, it’s essential to be firm by saying “No!” or “Ouch!”.

No matter how gentle the bite is, saying no or reciprocating a whimpering sound similar to another dog. If they do bite or nibble you. By doing this, you are alerting the dog that what happened is hurting you, and eventually, they will stop this behaviour.

Tip #2

Consider getting your dog a variety of chew toys to gnaw on. If you have a puppy and are in the teething phase, this could effectively reduce any pain they might feel in their gums. Having a variety of chew toys will ensure that your dog has choices and, therefore, will not lose interest in them.

Tip #3

Another option to deter your dog from nibbling on you is to use a taste deterrent. You can typically find these in pet stores. They are entirely safe to use and discourages your dog from biting you when they get a taste of something disgusting to them.

Tip #4

Using positive reinforcements will ensure that your dog will learn by conditioning and eventually stop. Try the below positive reinforcement methods on your dog next time they try to nibble at you:

  1. Get up and shift away from your dog for 30 to 60 seconds, when it starts to nibble your ear.
  2. If necessary, you can leave the room and therefore leaving your dog in a “timeout.”
  3. Wait for some time and then turn to give your dog attention again, but if it starts to nibble or bite again, turn away or leave the room again.
  4. When utilizing these steps and your dog is doing exceptionally well, reward him or her with a treat.
  5. Continue to repeat these actions above until your dog has learned that nibbling causes it to lose your attention.

What To Do If Your Dog Won’t Stop Nibbling Your Ear

If your dog just won’t stop nibbling you, something you can attempt is redirecting its focus. Some things to shift its focus towards could include their favourite toy or bone.

Doing this should help to resolve the bad habit of nibbling or biting your ear. It would also be vital to make sure not to do it after it starts nibbling because you will confuse the dog, and it will think it is being rewarded for the nibbling.

  1. It would help to create a distraction rather than disciplining the behavior. Remove your dog from the situation and give it something they know will be appropriate to chew on. Sometimes a puppy will do this, but typically they are teething.
  2. It would also help for you to make sure that you are taking your dog out enough so it can get the daily amount of exercise for its age and breed. Doing this could help prepare it to be calmer when it is around you and nibbling you less.
  3. In the worst-case scenario, if you cannot get your dog to stop nibbling you or play biting aggressively, you may want to think about seeking out a dog behaviorist. There could be an underlying issue. By doing this, you will be able to effectively find a way to train your dog to stop this behavior altogether.

Conclusion

Since all dogs are different in personality traits, there is no single reason why your dog might be nibbling on your ears. If you are not bothered by your dog nibbling on you, it is good to know that they are most likely just showing you some love and affection.

However, if you are concerned about the behaviour, try giving some of the above tips and tricks a go and see if you can resolve your dog nibbling issue at hand.

Continue Reading:

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  2. Why Is My Puppy Peeing So Much?
  3. Why Do Puppies Breathe So Fast?
  4. Stop Your Dog From Eating Rocks
  5. Why Does My Dog Sneeze So Much?
Stuart loves blogging about his hobbies and passions. Sir Doggie is a place for him to share what he learns while being a pet parent. Click here to read more.