Why do dogs tilt their heads?

Why do dogs tilt their heads?

By: Mitch Orr, Dog Trainer

Dogs are cute and do plenty of adorable things, but nothing is cuter than your puppy staring at you tilting their head side to side as you whisper sweet commands.

But why do they do this?

Dog owners and professionals alike both say that this behaviour comes from the following:

  • being intrigued
  • experiencing something out of the ordinary
  • dog’s ability to empathize
  • they can read our body language, facial gestures, and speech patterns
  • to see better
  • to hear better

Dogs have the ability to recognize certain trigger words such as park, treat or walk and they can recognize certain tones we use in our puppy voices and will tilt their heads because they are expecting something from you. Take caution though when rewarding this cute behaviour because dogs are smart, and this will quickly become a learned behaviour and you will be forever running out to buy more treats.

Dog breeds with long muzzles will tilt their heads to get a better view of what they are looking at. Try this; make a fist and place it in front of your nose and look down at something. Now tilt your head. Did you see better?

Did you know that your pup can read your facial expressions? Here is an interesting fact; research suggests that dogs have social recognition skills on level with a human infant aged 6 months to 2 years.

Dogs have a specialized ear structure which contains 3 parts to their ear. This includes the outer ear, middle ear and inner ear flaps. The ear allows for balance and hearing which is 4 times better than a humans hearing. Tilting their heads when they hear a new noise might help dogs to pinpoint the sound’s origin better.

If for no reason at all, tilting the head is one of the most adorable things any pup can do, and talk about a perfect picture opportunity. Here is my German Shepherd Willow with her famous head tilt. You could train your dog to learn this behaviour using a clicker and some treats and with some practice your pup will be tilting and hamming it up on command.

If you are not familiar with how to use the clicker come to one of our clicker workshops to see how you can teach your dog any desired behaviour!

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