why do dogs lick each others ears

You might wonder why your dog licks another dog’s ears if you’ve ever noticed it. Dogs communicate and interact in many unique ways, and ear licking is one of them. Knowing why dogs lick each other’s ears can give us an idea of their social dynamics, health, and emotional well-being. In this blog post, we’ll explore why dogs lick each other’s ears. If you know what your dog is doing, you’ll be able to appreciate and care for him better. Read on to find out why dogs lick their ears more than just as a quirky habit.

Why Do Dogs Lick Each Other’s Ears?

A dog licking another dog’s ear is part of their social structure, communication methods, and hygiene practices. Here are the primary reasons why dogs engage in this behavior:

Social Bonding and Pack Behavior 

Dogs are inherently social animals that thrive on strong bonds within their pack. The grooming behavior of ear licking reinforces these social ties. Dogs show affection and loyalty by licking each other’s ears like humans do when they hug or pat each other. It helps maintain harmony and establishes a sense of unity among the pack.

Communication and Affection 

Licking is a natural method of communication and expression for dogs. When a dog licks another dog’s ears, it often signals friendship and trust. The licking dog acknowledges the other dog’s higher status in the pack hierarchy by showing submission. Dogs use this licking to express their feelings and intentions gently and non-confrontationally.

Health and Hygiene 

Dogs clean themselves and each other with their tongues. Dogs can help each other maintain their hygiene by licking each other’s ears, especially in hard-to-reach places like the ears. When dogs lick, dirt, debris, and earwax are removed, potentially preventing infections. While this grooming behavior has its benefits, it’s essential to watch for excessive licking, which might mean underlying health problems.

Exploration and Curiosity 

Licking is an essential part of dogs’ exploration of the world with their senses. Dogs have a distinct smell and taste to their ears that dog owners can find intriguing. Licking gives dogs information about their environment and each other.

Anxiety and Stress Relief 

Dogs can find comfort in repetitive actions, similar to how some humans find comfort in repetitive actions. For example, licking each other’s ears may help reduce anxiety and stress. In stressful situations or new environments, this soothing behavior can provide comfort and reassurance.

While ear licking is generally a healthy behavior, excessive licking could be a sign of ear infections or parasites. If your dog is licking constantly or intensely, you should consult a vet.

When to Be Concerned

It’s normal and healthy for dogs to lick their ears, but there are times when it can indicate underlying problems. Here are some signs and conditions to watch out for:

Excessive Ear Licking 

When a dog persistently licks another dog’s ears, it might be more than just a social bonding exercise. Licking too much can irritate and inflame the ear, making it more prone to infections. It’s essential to monitor constant licking and take steps to discourage the behavior if necessary.

Signs of Ear Infections 

Dogs’ ears can get infected because of excessive moisture and bacteria from licking. Look for symptoms such as redness, swelling, foul odor, discharge, and frequent head shaking or scratching. You should consult a veterinarian if you see these signs to get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Presence of Parasites 

Parasites like ear mites can cause dogs to lick as they try to soothe the irritation. You might see dark, crumbly discharge (like coffee grounds), excessive scratching, and head shaking. Veterinarians can prescribe treatments to get rid of parasites and relieve your dog’s symptoms.

Allergies or Skin Conditions 

A skin condition or allergy can also lead to ear licking. Your dog might lick its ears or the ears of other dogs if it has allergies. Redness, swelling, and frequent scratching are common symptoms. A veterinarian can help you identify and manage the underlying cause of allergies and skin conditions.

Behavioral Issues 

The habit of licking one’s ears can become compulsive in some cases. Anxiety, boredom, or stress can cause this. If the dog exhibits signs of obsessive behavior, like constant licking, it may benefit from behavioral interventions or environmental enrichment.

How to Stop My Dog from Licking Another Dog’s Ears

do dogs lick each others ears

If your dog’s ear licking is becoming excessive or problematic, take steps to manage and reduce it. Here’s how to stop your dog from licking another dog’s ears:

Monitor and Supervise Interactions

To manage your dog’s ear-licking behavior, it’s essential to closely monitor and supervise his interactions. Keep an eye on your dogs, especially when they’re playing or resting. If you intervene early, you can stop the behavior from becoming a habit.

If the licking gets too bad, you might need to separate the dogs for a while to give them a break. The constant licking helps reset their behavior and reduces the chance of irritation or infection.

Provide Adequate Stimulation

Often, boredom leads to unwanted behaviors such as excessive ear licking. Your dogs must receive enough mental and physical stimulation. Please provide them with a variety of toys, puzzles, and activities that will challenge their minds and bodies.

Exercise is essential to tire them out and prevent boredom-induced licking. Play interactive games with your dogs to distract them from licking and strengthen your bond.

Address Underlying Health Issues

Occasionally, excessive ear licking can indicate underlying health issues, such as ear infections or allergies. It’s essential to get a veterinary checkup to rule out these possibilities. Whenever a health issue is identified, follow the vet’s recommendations.

If you stop your dog from licking compulsively, you’ll probably see a reduction in the behavior. Keeping your dog’s ears healthy and parasite-free requires regular vet visits.

Use Deterrents

You can use deterrents to prevent your dog from licking another dog’s ears. For example, a vet-approved bitter-tasting spray around the ears can make the licking unpleasant for the dog, reducing its behavior. If you want to prevent your dog from accessing another dog’s ears, you can also wear headgear, such as an Elizabethan collar.

If you’re going to prevent your dog from accessing another dog’s ears, you can also wear headgear, such as an Elizabethan collar. Deterrents like these should be part of a broader strategy that includes behavioral training and supervision.

Positive Reinforcement Training

Positive reinforcement can help curb unwanted behaviors like ear licking in dogs. When your dogs behave appropriately and avoid licking, reward them with treats and praise. When you teach commands like “leave it,” “no lick,” and you can stop the behavior and get their attention.

The key to changing their behavior is consistent training and positive reinforcement. With patience and persistence, your dogs will learn to associate non-licking behavior with positive outcomes.

Manage Anxiety and Stress

Stress and anxiety can lead to compulsive behaviors such as excessive licking. It is crucial to identify and address the triggers of anxiety in your dogs. Changes in the environment, new pets, and separation anxiety are common triggers.

Using calming aids like anxiety wraps, calming sprays, or pheromone diffusers can help soothe anxious dogs. If the problem is more severe, a veterinary behaviorist or professional dog trainer may be necessary.

Increase Socialization

Socialization can reduce dogs’ overreliance on each other for comfort and anxiety-related behaviors like ear licking. Socialize your dogs with other pets in a controlled environment to build their confidence.

Dog classes and group activities can encourage positive interactions and reduce stress. Exposing your dogs to a variety of social situations can help them develop better coping mechanisms.

Consistent Routine

A consistent daily routine can help your dogs feel secure and stable, which reduces anxiety. Every day, make sure your dog gets fed, walked, and played with.

Predictable schedules help dogs feel more secure and less stressed, which prevents behaviors like excessive ear licking. Your dogs will feel more at ease if you give them a stable environment so they can cope without licking.

Read More: Why Is My Dog Licking His Paws


Understanding why dogs lick each other’s ears helps address this behavior effectively. Even though excessive licking often indicates bonding and hygiene, it can also indicate underlying issues. Monitor interactions, provide stimulation, address health concerns, and use positive reinforcement to manage this behavior. Maintaining a consistent routine and socializing your dogs helps them remain healthy and happy.

Frank Washington

I'm passionate about canine wellness, particularly skin health. Drawing on years of experience and ongoing research, I hope to provide useful insights and practical tips to help dog owners ensure their pets have a vibrant, healthy coat. As a proponent of natural and holistic care, I founded HealthySkin4Dogs.com as a resource center for fellow dog lovers looking to nourish their pet's skin from the inside out.