Why Your Dog Is Nibbling Your Ear: 9 Reasons & How To Stop It! (2024)

A cute Terrier licking and nibbling a man's ear and face.

Dogs, especially the young ones, tend to put anything and everything in their mouths. Sometimes, they go for the most bizarre things, like your ears.

This gentle nibbling is more playful than dangerous but still begs the question…

Why does my dog nibble my ears? Your dog may be nibbling on your ears simply because he/she is a playful canine. Other possible causes of this behavior are that your pup has too much energy and wants to play or seek your attention. Nibbling on your ears could also be how your pup is trying to show his affection.

As a dog owner, you’ve probably found some strange behaviors in your dogs. Keep reading to discover all possible reasons why they seem to like nibbling on your ear and when and how to stop it. 

9 Reasons Why Your Dog Nibbles Your Ears

If you find that your dog likes playfully nibbling on you, particularly your ears, any or several of the following could be the reason for it.

1. To Show Affection

Dogs show their affection in different ways. If you have overzealous dogs, they can show their excitement by jumping on you or nibbling on your ears.

It’s how they show their affection and how comfortable they are with you or how much they missed you. 

2. Common Puppy Behavior

If you have a young puppy, you know that playful nibbling is a common behavior, and it could just happen that he finds your ears particularly convenient to nibble on.

Another possible reason is the discomfort puppies feel in their teeth and gums, and nibbling helps relieve the discomfort during their teething phase. 

3. Wants To Play

Your dog could be simply a really playful one. If that’s the case, expect some behaviors like play biting and nibbling whenever he wants to have some playtime.

It’s just your pooch’s way of communicating with you that he is ready for playtime. 

4. “Pack” Grooming Behavior

The strange behavior of nibbling your ears could be traced back to their ancestors when they were still living in the wild and without humans.

Close members of the pack often help groom each other, especially the ears as they are among the parts of their bodies that are difficult to groom.

Even modern dogs could still have that urge of ear cleaning their pack members, no matter how gross that sounds. 

5. Seeking Attention

Another reason why your dog could be nibbling on your ears is that he needs something from you.

It could be that your pooch is trying to get your attention because he wants to eat, wants to play, or needs to go potty. 

6. Enjoys the Taste

It may sound strange and gross, but your dogs could enjoy the taste of your ears.

Skin naturally produces oil and sweat, and by nibbling or licking on your ears, they get that salty taste of your skin. 

Grosser still is the thought that they may enjoy the smell of taste of your ear wax. 

7. Testing Limits

If you haven’t given your dogs some proper training, you can’t expect them to behave appropriately all the time.

That nibbling behavior could be just your dogs testing their limits, and some training could resolve this issue. 

8. Showing Submission

Since dogs are pack animals, nibbling is often a sign that they recognize and consider you as part of their pack or even as their pack leader.

That nibbling behavior could be a submissive habit and shows that your dog is looking up to you as the leader. 

9. Exploring and Investigating

Dogs use their mouth to investigate and explore the things around them.

It may just be that your ears seem interesting to them; hence, the nibbling or licking you get from your exploring dog.

If you used some new perfume or cream, your dog could also be curious, wanting to explore the new scents. Then, your pup could go sniffing on your ears, and that often leads to nibbling. 

Playful Mouthing vs. Biting

A man holding a white puppy that is chewing on his hand.

Mouthing and biting may look similar, but playful mouthing is more of your dog grabbing and lightly chewing using their mouth without exerting much pressure at all.

This mouthing behavior in dogs is playful and not meant to hurt you. With biting, on the other hand, the dog will be using his teeth and is more aggressive. 

When To Put a Stop to the Behavior

Generally, nibbling and playful mouthing are typically harmless. They are very common behaviors, especially in dogs.

You might notice that if you or another dog yelps in pain when your dog nip too hard, your dog will stop nibbling. That teaches them bite inhibition, and that’s important. 

However, it’s best to discourage any nipping behavior early on.

If dogs don’t learn this at a young age, they will have a difficult time distinguishing whether their nibbling is hurting someone as they grow older.

If your pup has poor impulse training, their playful nibbles can cause pain to other people or dogs in the future, and that can be a problem.

How To Train Your Dog Not To Nibble You

Here are some steps to discourage your dog from nibbling on you:

  • Be firm, but never get physical with your dog. Otherwise, it could lead to more aggressive behaviors. Instead, say “ouch” or “no” sharply whenever nibbling begins, no matter how gentle it is. 
  • Offer your dog some chew toys, especially if he is a puppy. The instant he starts to nibble, say “N0!” and give him the chew toy. Praise him when he chomps on that instead of on you.
  • Use positive reinforcement to encourage your dog to stop nibbling. Consider offering treats or praise whenever your dog shows restraint when you tell him to stop nibbling. This conditioning will take time and patience, but your dog will stop nibbling over time. 
  • Another option to discourage your dog’s nibbling behavior is to use a taste deterrent, like a bitter apple spray. They are safe for dogs and pretty effective too. 

Grannicks Bitter Apple 8oz w/Sprayer-2 pack
  • Discourages fur biting, hair chewing and hot spots
  • Can also be used to discourage chewing on shoes, clothing, pets beds, furniture, etc.

Related Questions: 

Why Does My Dog Nibble My Hair?

By nibbling on your hair, your dog could be trying to get your attention for many reasons. Your dog could want to play, go out for a walk, or to go potty.

If you have long hair, your dog could simply want to engage in a game of tug-of-war because he’s feeling playful and excited.

On a less positive note, the behavior could be a sign of anxiety in dogs.

Why Does My Dog Nibble Me With Front Teeth?

Nibbling with their front teeth is a common behavior of young dogs, especially puppies.

It’s often a playful gesture when your dog is trying to get you to play with them or when they get overly excited. It actually indicates that the dog is showing some restraint.

He’s showing that he really wants to play or get your attention but that he knows that open-mouth biting or nibbling is a no-no.


If you are not bothered by your dog nibbling on your ears, it’s great to know that this behavior could be his way of communicating love and affection toward you.

If you’re concerned with your dog’s nibbling behavior, there are training methods to resolve the issue and discourage your dog from nibbling on you. 

Last update on 2024-04-22 at 22:42 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API