Why does my dog bite my other dog’s ear?

If you have more than one dog, you hope they get along. Sometimes, it’s clear that two dogs don’t like each other. In other situations, you may be unsure if they are being playful, affectionate, or aggressive.

When it comes to biting a dog’s ear, there are many potential reasons. Some indicate a friendship between the two, while others are more concerning. 

Why does my dog bite my other dog’s ear?

One of your dogs seems to love biting your other dog’s ear. You wonder why they do this, and if you should be concerned about it. 

The good news is, most of the time, it’s a sign of friendship or affection. However, it can be a sign of aggression or dominance as well. 

Playing

Dogs will often bite another dog’s ear when they are playing. They can bite during a play session, or as a way to get another dog’s attention. You may see one dog bite another dogs’ ear, and the two begin playing together. 

If it’s a playful bite, the dog who is bitten will not be harmed. The dog that is biting will not draw blood, or cause any injury. 

It is possible for guppies to bite too hard unintentionally. They are still learning, and will sometimes bite hard enough to hurt, even though they are only playing. 

Love

Dogs don’t use language to communicate, but they do have body language. A dog biting another dogs ear can be a sign of affection. Think of it as the dog version of the bro hug. 

Grooming

Dogs are highly social animals. They will groom other members of their pack as a way for caring for each other. When your dog bites another dog’s ear, they may actually be grooming them. 

If you spot them licking and nipping instead of biting, they are probably simply grooming their pack mate. 

Teething

When a puppy is teething, they will bite nearly anything. It can be tough to keep them from chewing on things they shouldn’t, because chewing temporarily relieves pain and pressure in their teeth. It’s very similar to a teething toddler, who wants to chew on something constantly. 

If you have a teething pup, this may be why they are biting your other dogs’ ear. They may be using it as a teething ring. 

Enjoys the Taste

Dogs seem to enjoy the taste of lots of things we find disgusting. Your dog may enjoy the taste of your other dogs ear. It may have something like salt or food on its coat, or they may like the taste of their skin. 

Some dogs lick their owners for this same reason. It’s strange to us, but dogs aren’t as discriminating when it comes to tasty snacks.  

Dominance

There’s an idea that you can show your dog you are the alpha by biting their ear. This conjures up some hilarious images. While it does seem silly to do this to your dog, there is some truth to it. Dogs will bite another dog’s ear as a way of displaying dominance. 

In the wild, dogs have a social hierarchy. The top male and female are the alphas. Below them are the omegas. The omegas are subservient only to the alphas. At the bottom are the betas, which are subservient to both the omegas and alphas. 

Dometic dogs tend to follow this structure when living together. Depending on how many dogs are in the home, they may not have the full structure. However, one dog will be the alpha in nearly any multi-dog household. 

Aggression 

Ear biting can be a sign of aggression, and can lead to a dog fight. Many owners tend to think of aggression as being uncomplicated, but there are actually many types and causes of aggression. 

In addition to biting, signs of aggression include growling, barking, lunging, snarling, snapping, and a stiff body posture. If your dog growls, snaps, and then bites your other dog’s ear, they are likely being aggressive. 

Possessive aggression, or resource guarding, is one common type. One dog is trying to protect what it views as its resources. This can include toys, food, and even their owner. When the other dog gets too close to their resources, they become aggressive. 

Territorial or dominance related aggression is another type. This type occurs when one dog encroaches on another dog’s territory. This typically isn’t a problem for dogs who live together, because they share territory. 

Dominance aggression can occur, however. Dominance is usually worked out without violence. However, dogs will occasionally fight to determine their status, particularly if they are evenly matched. 

For example, an alpha and beta dog will not fight for dominance. However, two alpha dogs may fight to establish their standing. 

Lastly, dogs will also become aggressive when they are afraid. Dogs have a fight or flight response just as humans do. If your pooch feels afraid, they may act aggressively as a defense. 

Why do dogs bite ears when playing?

Dogs bite each others’ ears when playing for a few reasons. You can think of a dog’s ear like a bullseye. It’s an easy target for other dogs. Dogs quickly learn that ears are easy to get too, and will quickly get another dog’s attention. 

They also learn as puppies that a playful bite can be an easy way to invite play. As they grow older, they keep play biting as a way to signal they want to play. 

How to get my dog to stop biting my other dog’s ear?

Does one of your dog’s frequently bite your other dogs ear? If you are concerned about this behavior and want to stop it, there are many ways to do so. 

Should You Stop It? 

Before we get into how to stop it, ask yourself if you should stop it. Does it make your dog’s uncomfortable? Is one dog getting harmed in any way? Is it just playful, or does it seem to be aggressive? 

If the dogs bite each other’s ears in play, grooming, or affection, you may not want to stop them. However, if it makes your dog uncomfortable, seems to be aggressive, or is causing harm to the ear, you should make your dog stop. 

Letting the Dogs Work It Out

Assuming that both dogs are able to fend for themselves, you may want to allow them to work it out themselves. If your dog truly dislikes it, they will tell the other dog to stop. This may result in a fight, but this can be a part of dogs finding their place within the household. 

Use your best judgement here. If you fear one of your dog’s being harmed, this isn’t the correct course of action. 

Distraction 

This is also known as the startle technique. You’ll want to make a loud noise to startle your dog enough to get them to stop doing what they are doing. This can be done by clapping your hands, stomping your feet, or even using an air horn.  

The idea is to snap them out of what they are doing. You can then redirect them to a more suitable activity. Be careful when redirecting. It can be tempting to give them a treat or play with them to distract them, but this will reinforce their bad behavior. 

Bad Taste 

Dogs, like humans, will usually avoid putting things that they dislike the taste of in their mouths. Ever try to feed pees to a toddler? It’s basically impossible! 

You can use this to get your dog to stop biting your other dog’s ear. One method is bitter apple spray. This typically has a scent that dogs don’t like, as well as a bitter taste. This means your other dog may object to having the smell on their ear. 

Another option is hot sauce. Dogs generally don’t like the taste of spicy foods, so hot sauce can be the perfect way to make your dog’s ear unappealing. 

Spray Bottle 

Dogs typically don’t like being sprayed with water. When your dog begins to bite your other’s ear, spray them with water. If you do this each time they bite the other pooch’s ear, they will likely stop quickly. 

This works as negative reinforcement. Dogs have a strong associative memory. This means they remember what they felt when something happened. So, they bite the ear, and then they feel uncomfortable or startled when they are sprayed. They will link this feeling to biting the dog’s ear, and will no longer want to bite it. 

If water doesn’t do the trick, you can put vinegar or lemon juice in the sprayer. Dogs strongly dislike these smells. 

Separate Them 

If you are concerned for your dog’s safety, you may need to separates them. It’s usually possible to separate them temporarily, and slowly reintroduce them. This should calm any bad feelings between them. 

Chewies and Bones 

If your dog simply wants something to chew on, keep chewies or bones around. This works well for teething puppies, and dogs who seem to enjoy the taste of another dog’s ear. 

It’s a great way to keep your dog occupied as well. Just be sure that there’s enough for everyone, to prevent fighting over them.