Why Do Dogs Tilt Their Heads?


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(Photo Credit: Shutterstock)

Dogs do plenty of cute things, but there are few behaviors more adorable than the head tilt. I make plenty of strange noises around my pups just to see if they’ll tilt their heads to the side in a quizzical look of confusion.

Sometimes new toys and games can get dogs to tilt their heads. DogTime recommends this unusual toy for trying to get your dog to do a head tilt.

Most dog owners can tell you that the head tilt means a dog is interested or experiencing something out of the ordinary. But why do they do it?

Well, there are a few reasons your dog might be doing that adorable tip of the noggin. Here are some possible explanations.

Empathy Leads To Head Tilts

A white Pit Bull with brown markings tilts his head in front of a white background.

(Photo Credit: Shutterstock)

Experts say that the head tilt has a lot to do with a dog’s ability to empathize.

Dogs have evolved to be very good at understanding humans. They can read our body language, facial gestures, and speech patterns to empathize with us. They even recognize certain words and vocal tones and associate them with playtime, walks, or food.

When they tilt their heads, it’s possible that they’re trying to filter what we’re saying to pick out those familiar parts of our language, whether it’s the emotions in your tone or literal words.

They’re really trying to listen closely for something they can recognize.

They Might Be Trying To Hear You Better

Portrait of Fawn Pug tilting his head and staring.

(Picture Credit: mlorenzphotography/Getty Images)

Even though dogs can hear frequencies we can’t, they’re actually not as good as humans are at finding out where sounds come from.

Some experts believe that when a dog tilts their head, they’re trying to adjust the pinnae, or outer ears, to better detect where a sound originates.

So when you’re making a weird noise, your dog might be thinking, “That’s weird. I better find out if that sound is really coming from my human.”

They Might Be Trying To See You Better

Dog tilting its head

(Picture Credit: Cheryl Maeder/Getty Images)

The head tilt may also be a response to visual cues, not just auditory.

Stanley Coren of Psychology Today suggests that a dog’s muzzle might make it difficult to see the source of a sound. By tilting their heads, dogs are better able to see our faces and read our expressions, which they are also very good at.

Whatever the case, it’s one of the most adorable things in the world. I will certainly continue to make weird noises to elicit head tilts from my pups. Maybe one day they’ll just figure out I’m a particularly odd human and ignore my shenanigans.

But until then, it’s head tilts all the time.

Do you love it when your dog tilts their head? Do you make weird noises to see if they’ll look at you funny? Let us know in the comments below!

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