Why Do Dogs Tilt Their Heads To The Side When Listening?

Oh man! Just way too much adorableness to bear! Stop it! Perhaps you’ve seen it…you’re talking to your dog and he gives you the stare, and then…wait for it…the adorable head tilt!

Why do dogs tilt their heads to the side when listening

But, what is the real reason dogs tilt their head to the side? Is it to listen? Contemplate what we are saying? Have they figured out how adorable it makes them look to us? Could they be so smart?

Unfortunately, there hasn’t been quite enough research to narrow it down to a definitive answer to the reason for dog head tilting; however, there are many theories. Which one do you think is the cause?

Possible causes of the oh-so-adorable dog head tilt…

  • They are making the best use out of their hearing abilities. You may have noticed that along with the head tilt your dog’s ears will also shift position. Due to the shape of a dog’s ear canal and the outer ear, shifting head and ear positions helps them hear sound better as well as determine where sound is coming from.
  • They are trying to make sense of what is being said. Dogs have numerous words within their vocabulary, all learned from you! Listening carefully allows them to pick out the words they know.
  • They are listening for the tone of your voice to give them clues into the context of the conversation. When you say things like, “hey, buddy let’s go for a walk!”, your may have an excited tone of voice, in contrast to, “no begging, go lay down!”, which may be a stern tone of voice. Your dog has learned to distinguish the difference and is now listening intently to figure it out.
  • A survey of 582 dog owners showed that dogs with longer snouts were more likely to tilt their heads when being spoken to. The thought behind this is that a long snout could obstruct a dog’s full view of the person speaking. If they were to tilt their head they could obtain a better view of their human’s face. (It should be noted that while there was a higher percentage of long-snouted dogs that did head tilting (71%), flat faced dogs did it as well (52%). This was based on the 62% of dog owners who responded in the survey as, yes, to their dog tilting its head when spoken to).
  • Lastly, how often have you made a fuss out of your dog’s cuteness once the head tilting begins? Dogs love positive attention from their humans! If your dog receives a positive response from his actions, he’s likely to keep on doing it!

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