Why Do Dogs Tilt Their Heads?
Dogs are one of our favorite pets for so many reasons. One of them being that they are eternally entertaining with their eccentricities and playfulness. This playfulness can come out in a number of mannerisms that we find lovable and endearing. One such way is a dog head tilt. It is perhaps one of the most humane mannerisms that our canine pets display – but why do dogs cock their heads? And what does a dog tilting head to the side really mean?
Why Do Dogs Cock Their Heads?
There are a number of perceived answers to why do dogs cock their head with none being more right than the other – it is probably an amalgamation of all of them.
- Attention Seeking
By a dog tilting head to the left or right, it is a way of getting our attention and making us give them some love and reciprocal attention themselves. That is because a dog head tilt is often coupled with them staring at us intently with those big brown eyes of theirs. From that point, once we have locked eyes with them as dog owners, and therefore dog lovers, we will invariably either talk to them or play with them – if only for a short time. Some of us will probably get them a treat or give them a good stroke or belly rub for being so cute. Hence why a dog head tilt is an often repeated action of our four legged friends.
Practically speaking, it is believed that a dog head tilt can also help dogs hear us better or listen out for anything that may have got their attention. For example, when we are opening their dog food or if a dog is barking outside somewhere. A dog tilts its head so its ear is closer to what it is trying to hear as well as being less covered by their ear flaps. This makes great sense given that dogs are often on guard for any noises that could be dangerous to them and their pack – or you as its family.
Many owners will often admit that their dog tilts their head when they hear a word or phrase that they understand. More often than not, this is something to do with their food, getting a treat, or going for a walk. How often will you have seen a dog tilting head when the term ‘walkies’ is used or if the phrase ‘do you want a…’ is said by an owner? Probably very often. It goes to show that dogs have a certain level of understanding of our vocabulary – another reason that we love them so much.
Whilst dogs understanding us and our terminology is one way that they endear themselves to us in their truckload, their ability to empathise is also another reason for our great fondness of them. And when they tilt their heads, this is one of the ways they are showing their empathy with us too. They look at us and try to understand what is going to happen next so that they can serve their owner as best they can. So they will often do a dog head tilt when we are upset or crying as it gives them a beat to decide what their action should be in response. It is why so many dogs tilt their head before coming to give us affection and attention.
Does a Puppy Head Tilt Mean Anything?
A puppy head tilt is simply a sign that your new puppy is learning what it needs to survive being a dog within your pack. A puppy head tilt is an instinctive action and that is why your puppy is displaying them. In particular, with puppies, they tilt their head in an effort to figure out what is going on in a situation and what is required of them as a result. It shows that dogs learn empathy from a young age and how they are to fit in to a family.
Sounds That Make Dogs Head Tilt
There are so many sounds that make dogs head tilt. They do so for the same reason as when we say certain words. They are tilting their head to ensure they are hearing correctly and from that sound figuring out what their response should be.
Some common sounds that make dogs head tilt are when you open their food or perhaps pour their food into a bowl. When you are happy or sad and are vocally showing how you feel, they will tilt their head too. When you say certain words, as previously mentioned, or even whole phrases, their head will tilt to ensure that they are doing the correct thing they are meant to to provoke a positive action from you as its owner – ie giving it a treat or a stroke.
A Dog Head Tilt – The Bottom Line
A dog tilting head is a really important mannerism that helps us bond with our pets. This is because it shows immediately how dogs are listening out for us and therefore ways to please us at all times. Sounds that make dogs head tilt are so often coupled with their joy which so often comes from our positive behavior towards them – like scratching behind their ears or giving them their favorite chew toy.
So if you are concerned about your pet when you see a classic dog head tilt – there really should be no reason to worry. It is a totally natural behavioral trait carried out by pretty much all dogs – and one that we all actively should encourage. For no reason other than it makes us love them even more! However, as always with our most beloved four legged friends, if you think there is something more to it, go to the vet for help straight away.