Should You Bite Your Dog’s Ear?

Everyone knows that dogs are man’s best friend.

We love our dogs, and they love us back! However, even these good relationships can sometimes have conflict.

Obedience is something you need to instil in your dog, and this can be a challenge for many owners.

A dog that won’t listen and creates trouble can be less of a best friend and more of a nuisance!

Luckily, there are several ways to fix an unruly puppy.

This is especially true for one who loves to bite!

You might have heard the rumor that biting your dog’s ear will help establish dominance and stop them from ceaselessly biting.

Believe it or not, there is more to this old rumor than meets the eye.

Follow along as we go over possible solutions to a disobedient dog – including some potential biting!

Why would a human bite a dog’s ear?

This is honestly a valid question!

Many people upon hearing this advice may be confused or think it is a joke.

In reality, it has been in practice for many years for dogs of all breeds and ages. 

The general consensus is that you would bite your dog’s ear in order to instill obedience, connected to a fear of pain or punishment from the owner.

It can also be done to teach young animals (mostly puppies going through a teething stage) that biting can cause pain and should be avoided. 

Most puppies as they teethe will have a natural instinct to bite, and that instinct can be directed to their family.

Hands, feet, and even faces are all fair game! In theory, the next step after your dog bites you is to bite the dog back gently on the ear, increasing pressure until they react.

This is to teach them about pain and how to instinctively lessen the strength of their own bites. 

The ear is an ideal spot to softly bite since it is just skin and cartilage.

There is no chance of actually harming your pet through this method.

While some people may find the idea of biting a dog’s ear a bit odd, the main reason it would be done is for training.

Do dogs bite each other’s ears?

Part of the reason why some people believe in biting your dog’s ears is because dogs do it to each other!

These bites can be either playful or aggressive, and are a huge part in helping an animal learn to control the power of a bite and avoid danger.

The most important thing is knowing why they do it and how to find the line between playfulness and full-blown aggression.

If you’ve seen an older dog interacting with a puppy, you’ve probably also seen them bite at the younger dog’s ears.

Puppies playing together also have a habit of nipping at each other’s ears.

These bites and nips are soft and do not use pressure or the sharpest teeth.

Instead, they are meant to demonstrate dominance or playfully nudge an unruly puppy back in line.

These bites are essentially saying: settle down, kid. And they work!

Aggressive ear biting is another story, but it does have the same core ideal of making it clear who is in charge and who is submissive.

If your dog grew up with other dogs even for just a few months, they should remember the point that a gentle ear bite expresses. 

Would this method work?

Of course, the most important question is whether or not this exercise would even work.

It can be hard to find information about this question outside of internet forums, and you’re unlikely to see it discussed openly.

It can be difficult to prove that this method works, especially for different kinds of dogs.

You’ll mostly have to rely on your own experiences and the experiences you can glance at in forums or hear about from a friend. 

People report mixed findings.

Some people find that it does work, especially with young dogs who bite frequently.

As long as they are not biting when provoked or aggressively, they are most likely just trying to play and accidentally biting too hard.

This method could work to show them why biting hurts and should be softer.

People also report that it helps establish yourself as the dominant one in the pairing, making it easier to get your dog to listen to you. 

However, not everyone reports the same results.

After all, every dog is different.

Depending on the temperament, they might become aggressive if you bite their ear and the play will turn from light-hearted to violent.

A dog also might fail to understand why you are biting them, unable to make the connection between their painful bites and yours.

In that case, they would just become frightened or aggressive and no lesson would be learned. 

If you are curious or find yourself without other options, you can certainly try this method and see what the results are.

If you get lucky, your dog will understand the meaning and stop their excessive biting, allowing you to be in control of the relationship again. 

Some people may find that jumping straight to biting their dog’s ear is difficult. There are other methods you can use that build on the same basic principles. 

Is there a better way to communicate with your dog?

As we covered, some dogs simply do not make the connection between a bite that hurts you and a bite that hurts them.

In that case, there are other things you can try before you resort to a special training school or more intense method.

This first one requires a bit of acting, with a flair for the dramatic being an added bonus. 

For teething puppies, you can instead show them how their bites hurt you specifically instead of trying to show the general idea of a painful bite.

When they bite you, scream or yelp as an injured animal would after it had been hurt.

You can grab the bitten area and pretend to cry or be in pain.

After that, refuse to play with the puppy and ignore him completely.

This will teach them that their bites are hurting you without you needing to actually bite them back.

Unfortunately, being gentle does not always work.

In cases where your dog is getting out of hand, pinching their ear can be a good way to calm them down.

This pinch works on the same level as the bite, but you can do it easier and more frequently.

If your dog is refusing a command or doing something dangerous like barking or running at strangers, reaching down and pinching their ear can be a way to establish dominance and control.

If none of the methods work (biting included), you can try some dog training or introducing your dog to bigger, older dogs who will teach them a lesson in obedience for you.

Is there a reason dogs and humans might have the urge to bite a puppy’s ear? 

When it all comes down to it, why do humans and dogs bite at each other’s ears?

We know it establishes dominance, but there is another scientific reason to explain the occurrence. That reason is…cuteness! 

That’s right.

Sometimes, looking at a cute baby or animal can make you want to squeeze or bite it.

It’s that feeling when you hold a baby and want to squeeze it into your chest or tug a puppy’s tail to feel the fur.

This is because of our evolutionary biology.

We are all programmed to love cute things, and animals are no exception.

You see a cute baby and automatically get a surge of dopamine, no matter if the baby is human or animal.

That dopamine rush can trigger an aggressively happy response – hence the urge to hug until we squeeze or bite just a tiny bit.

It’s a completely normal response, but people do not always know why it happens.

So, if you’ve ever been stroking your puppy’s velvet soft ears and felt the urge to pinch or bite, you’re not alone.

This cuteness factor could be why the tip about biting the ear of your dog exists!

It would explain why older dogs nip at the ears of younger dogs, something that humans have ended up adopting.

To wrap things up…

Biting your dog’s ear is more than just an old rumor or joke.

It is a method of teaching and establishing obedience that some pet owners swear by.

Theoretically, gently biting your dog’s ear will teach them to control their own bites and also show their submissiveness to their owner.

However, there are other methods that can be used if this one does not work or you feel uncomfortable.

It can be hard to find concrete research on this topic, but online forums and personal conversation with other dog owners lends credibility to the idea.

Dogs do it to each other, so why can’t humans adopt the same tactic?

It all comes down to what works for you and your dog!