Dogs are synonymous for cuteness. from wagging their tales to cuddling up with us in our beds, they maintain their ‘awe’ factor. Probably the most adorable thing that they do is tilt their heads with different noises as we speak to them. Do they really understand what is being said or is it just their physiological behavior to capture as much as they can? Read on to know better why dogs tilt their heads.

Humans can detect the direction of the sounds without having to turn in different directions to trace it. Though dogs have a great sense of smell and hearing, they are not good to detect the direction of the sounds that they hear. The ear flaps of dogs cover either the entire or the most part of their ear canals hampering the sounds to enter their ears. This problem occurs differently with differently built dog breeds. While the ear flaps of a German Shepherd cover just the back part of their ear canals, Cocker Spaniels’ heavy flaps completely cover the ear canal. Thus, a German Shepherd faces difficulty to understand sounds coming from the back and a Cocker Spaniel faces this challenge from all the directions.

Why Dogs Tilt Heads during Conversations?

As per some veterinary behaviorists, head tilting is an indication of knowledge. Head-tilting dogs, in general, are more delicate than different little guys, exceptionally tuned to sounds, and have a nearby passionate bond with their owners. Also, in some cases, head tilting is essentially a dog’s reaction to a confounding or inquisitive human articulation. As indicated by specific hypotheses, head tilting possibly assists dogs with figuring out where a sound is coming from.

Head Tilt to Hear Better

Dogs tilt their heads to listen to sounds and better understand the source of those sounds. Additionally, they can judge the distance of the source of the sound by determining the difference of time for the sound to reach their left and right ears.

Head Tilt to Concentrate

While you are talking to your dog, they often tilt their heads, which is to hear and understand your words. When in a human conversation, a person unknowingly nods and gives different facial expressions while concentrating on the other person’s words. It is the same way with dogs, who tilt their heads to establish engagement. They may also be looking for the specific words that they understand, such as a treat, walk, etc. A sound wave goes through the external canal, to the middle and the inner ear before reaching the brain. The middle-ear muscles in dogs, facial expressions, and their head movements, all are connected with the same part in the brain.

Head Tilt to Read Faces and Body Language

Researchers also say that dogs are undergoing major evolution and currently can understand their owners’ facial expressions, voice tones, moods, body language, and even eye movements. However, they need a clear view of the human face to make sense out of these cues. With long muzzles blocking the clear view, the head tilt gives a broader vision. A research showed that head tilting is found less common in dogs with short-muzzled dogs.

Repetition of a Rewarding Act

The tilting of heads during a conversation is not less than a heart melting moment for pet owners. Thus, this act is encouraged with loving tone, an extra treat, a belly rub, or any other positive and affable reaction. Dogs understand what ‘works’ for them and get encouraged to repeat those acts that have previously resulted in a reward. Once a head tilt is admired by an owner, the more likely the pet is going to do it repeatedly.

When is dogs tilting heads a problem?

If your pet is tilting his head consistently even in the absence of any sound or stimulation, it can indicate a problem. There are possibilities of bacterial/yeast infection in the ear causing pain and/or itching. Moreover, it may be a neurological problem if your dog holds the tilt on a side. These signs are easy to observe and if you do, take your pet to the vet for a closer examination.

Share your pets’ funny head tilting moments and reactions with us in the comments section below.

Sources:

Why Do Dogs Tilt Their Heads?” www.petmd.com

The Truth About Why Dogs Tilt Their Heads,” www.rover.com

I am practicing as a veterinarian since 2016 in small animal. I working as physician as well as surgeon. I have specilization in Neutering of dogs and cats and their anesthesia. I had performed more than 9K neutering and their post-operative care yet. My goal is to practice as a vet worldwide.

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