Why Do Dogs Bite Each Other’s Ears When Playing and How to Stop It

Why Dogs Bite Each Others Ears When Playing How to Stop It


Dogs often bite each other’s ears while they are playing and it can be quite alarming to watch – especially if one of the dogs involved is yours. But why do dogs do this, is it okay, and how can you stop it?

In this article, we’ll explore why dogs bite each other’s ears when playing and how to respond if your own dog does this. We’ll also give advice on how you can modify your own dog’s behavior to discourage them from engaging in this kind of play fighting in the future. You’ll also learn what signs to look out for which may indicate underlying problems:

What Causes Dogs to Bite Each Other’s Ears?

Have you ever seen two dogs playing with each other, only for one to start biting the other’s ears? While it is common for dogs to do this during play, it is important to monitor this behavior as it can lead to injuries. But why do dogs bite each other’s ears? This article will look at the reasons why this behavior occurs and how to stop it.

Puppy Play

When puppies are playing, it is common for them to start nibbling each other around the neck, head, and ears. However, this behavior should be monitored closely from the onset. If a puppy allows another to nibble on their ear for a prolonged amount of time, it could indicate that the puppy is not comfortable with such contact and a more aggressive approach may be needed.

So why do puppies bite each other’s ears? Biting each others’ ears serves as an outlet for pent up energy among puppies who have not yet developed control over their sharp teeth or claws. This is particularly common in new littermates who are learning proper canine etiquette and sharing space with another pup. It usually starts out as harmless play behavior but can quickly become aggressive or rough.

Biting and chewing that targets the ears can also be signs of anxiety or boredom as self-grooming provides both comfort and stimulation for anxious dogs. In multi-dog households where pups do not get enough practice interacting with their siblings, owners may want to step in to provide more structured playtime that rewards gentle interactions and shows one pup how to handle the other’s stresses when necessary.

If biting becomes excessive or aggressive, owners should immediately stop the game and separate the two pups from each other if possible. That way they can avoid any potential altercations between them in the future and make sure both sustain no lasting trauma from any interactions gone awry during playtime together.


When dogs engage in play, particularly with larger breeds, aggression may be a factor. Dog play is often an opportunity for them to practice dominance and assert their place in the pack. Ears, tails, and muzzles can become targets for such behavior. Dogs commonly bite each other’s ears as part of play-fighting or as a sign of dominance.

It is important to recognize that a bite on the ear is not necessarily indicative of an aggressive dog but may instead be a sign of an assertive one. However, care must be taken in interpreting any type of canine body language so as not to confuse it with dominance behavior or aggression. If the ears are bitten hard enough to draw blood or cause pain and discomfort, then it should be seen as potentially dangerous depending on the context in which it occurred and medical attention should be sought if needed.

In order to help prevent bites on ears due to dominance signals and assertiveness during playtime between dogs, owners should prioritize positive reinforcement when their pets interact with each other. When playing gets too rough or starts getting out of hand due to assertiveness signals from either dog, it should immediately be stopped by separating them into different areas and praising the more controlled dog while redirecting attention by providing activities such as toys or a game of fetch instead.


Fear is one of the most common reasons why dogs may engage in ear biting when they are playing. Dogs may bite each other’s ears out of fear of being attacked, or as a way to assert dominance over their playmate. If a dog feels intimidated or believes it is in danger, it may try to protect itself by nipping at the other dog’s ears. This usually doesn’t result in serious injury, but can still be frightening for both animals.

Other fear-based behaviors that can lead to ear biting include:

  • Resource guarding (protecting food and toys)
  • Showing territorial aggression (barking and growling when unfamiliar animals enter their space)

Dogs that exhibit signs of these behaviors should be monitored closely when engaging in playtime with other pets to ensure that no intense aggression arises. If any signs of fear-based behaviors are noticed during playtime, the situation should be diffused immediately.

If your dog seems scared or alarmed by certain situations or people, it’s best to consult your veterinarian for advice on how to address its fears so that no further harm is done to either animal during future playtime activities.

How to Stop Dogs from Biting Each Other’s Ears

Biting each other’s ears is a common behavior that dogs display during playtime. While it may look funny to us, it can be unpleasant for dogs, and can in some cases lead to injury. Therefore, it’s important for dog owners to know how to stop this problematic behavior.

There are a few methods that can help stop dogs from biting each other’s ears during playtime, which we will discuss further in this article:

Proper Socialization

Proper socialization is essential to ensure that your dog’s playtime is respectful and beneficial for both participants. Dogs should be taught from a young age how to interact in a respectful way with other dogs. Some things you can do to help socialize your puppy include:

  • Provide plenty of supervised playtime with other puppies or highly socialized adult dogs in areas with minimal distractions.
  • Introduce them to new environments and experiences such as walking on different surfaces, visiting the vet, or attending classes at a pet store.
  • Encourage good behavior by rewarding your pup using positive reinforcement when they interact appropriately with other animals.
  • Give them plenty of toys and chews to stimulate their brains and explore their environment without encouraging harmful biting behaviors.
  • Teach your pup basic commands such as “Leave it” or “No” when they attempt to bite another dog’s ears during play time.

If aggressive behavior persists, seek the help of a professional animal behaviorist who can provide guidance on how best to address the issue. A professional may work one-on-one with your dog or conduct group classes where several puppies learn proper social manners together in controlled situations.

Supervised Play

Whenever dogs interact, there should be some form of supervision. This is to ensure that what might start off as normal play does not turn into aggressive behavior. When two dogs are playing together, it’s essential for an owner or other supervisor to watch closely for any signs of too rough play or biting. If any such behaviors are observed, the play must be stopped immediately in order to avoid any further escalation.

In addition, a pair of dogs should also be supervised while they’re playing by someone who can help redirect the energy and attitudes of both animals if things start getting out of control. Supervision is key to preventing aggression between animals, especially during active play time when all involved are likely exhausted and more prone to misbehavior due to their excitement levels running high.

It’s important that the person assisting recognizes when their presence is no longer necessary before their own presence begins to require redirecting from the pooches in question – just like with children, sometimes intervention from a higher power (unless absolutely necessary) can make an already tense situation worse!

Teach Calm Behavior

Teaching your dog to remain calm while playing is an important part of reducing the risk of canine ear biting. During playtime, keep your pup occupied with positive activities, like tugging on a toy or running around the yard with a ball. These interactive games can keep dogs engaging in healthy behaviors rather than fewer appropriate ones.

Be sure to reward your dog for good behavior, such as giving treats for staying calm and not engaging in rough behavior. Avoid over-stimulating activities like chasing each other or wrestling as these can lead to over arousal and reduce impulse control, therefore increasing the chances that ear biting could occur.

If you notice your pup getting overly excited during playtime, use distracting methods such as calling out their name or clapping your hands loudly to encourage them to focus on something else. By teaching a calming behavior during playtime you are setting up boundaries that will discourage puppy ear biting.

Train an Alternative Behavior

One of the best methods for preventing dogs from biting each other’s ears is to train an appropriate alternative behavior. This can be done through a combination of positive reinforcement and negative punishment.

  • Positive reinforcement is used to reward desired behaviors and may include offering treats, verbal praise, petting or playing with the dog.
  • Negative punishment involves withholding the ploys providing enjoyment or fun that are associated with the undesirable behavior.

Start by adding distractions to get your dog’s mind off the other dog’s ear. Have him sit and stay in one place while you go over to the other dog and give him a treat or interact with him in a positive manner. If he starts to approach or lunge at the other dog’s ears, make a loud noise such as clapping your hands or saying “Ouch!” immediately followed by giving him something else that does not involve his mouth, like a toy or tasty treat. This will create an association between his approaching another dog’s ear and something unpleasant occurring right afterwards, which will help keep his attention away from nipping and biting at sensitive areas on his fellow canine playmates’ bodies. Consistent repetition of these steps over time will create lasting results in curbing this unruly canine behavior.


It is important to realize that dogs communicate by using their bodies and, when playing, sometimes engage in behavior that might be considered aggressive or undesirable by humans. However, it is important to keep in mind that this behavior is normal for them, even if it causes concern in owners.

The best way to prevent your dog from biting other dogs’ ears while playing is to always supervise playtime between your dog and others. While engaging in rougher play, intervene if you see the other dog wincing or looking uncomfortable. If play gets overly rough, separate the two before one of them gets hurt or stressed.

If your own dog is biting other dogs’ ears while playing, provide positive reinforcement when they stop the behavior. You can also use these methods:

  • redirecting their attention with a toy;
  • correcting the behavior with an assertive “no”;
  • teaching commands such as “drop it” and
  • only allowing supervised playtime when around other animals.

Overall, teaching proper pet etiquette takes time and patience from both pet owners and their dogs. However, through patience, consistency and rewarding good behaviors regularly can ensure that all pets feel safe and respected when engaging with each other during playtime!

Jenna Kassidy

Jenna Kassidy is a passionate writer and dog lover. With a background in English literature and animal behavior, she combines her two passions to bring readers of Paw Appreciation, a blog about all things canine, the latest in research, training and health tips, as well as heartwarming stories and a wealth of information on different dog breeds.

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