Why Do Dogs Tilt Their Heads?

New Study Makes Interesting Discovery

Why Do Dogs Tilt Their Heads?

Isn’t it extremely adorable when our cute furry friends tilt their heads? We cannot resist patting and loving a puppy whose head is cocked to the side. But why do dogs tilt their heads? Is it just an endearing trait, or is there something else?

According to Andrea Sommese, an animal science researcher at the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, several factors could be involved, and visual and auditory elements are most likely two.

“We investigated the frequency and direction of this behaviour in response to a specific human verbal vocalization,” he added. It generally happens when dogs are listening to their owners.

Research and case study:

Head tilt could signify increased attention, linked to lateralized mental functions, as hypothesized by the researchers.

40 dogs were tested on their knowledge of object labels, and their head tilts were observed while they listened to humans asking them verbally to fetch a familiar toy.

According to the results, only dogs who had learned the names of the objects tilted their heads frequently. Additionally, the side of the tilt has been stable for several months. 

Therefore, they suggest a connection between head tilting and meaningful, relevant information processing.

How does this behaviour help with hearing?

Perhaps head tilting, by altering the position of the ears, helps dogs better determine where a sound is coming from. Despite being able to hear an incredible range of frequencies, dogs can’t locate the source of a sound as well as humans can.

They tilt their heads to collect sound despite ear flap interference, perking up their pinnae and perking up their ears. A dog will tilt its head in the direction of an interesting sound coming from the front.

A dog may turn before tilting his head if the sound comes from behind. Since dogs’ ears are located on the sides of their heads and are already able to pick up sound waves from the side, they may not tilt at all if the sound is coming from the side.

They can also judge the distance of a sound by detecting the time difference between the right and left ears when the sound reaches them. By cocking its head and adjusting ear flaps, the dog can assess the distance and location of sounds.

Then why do dogs tilt their heads when we’re standing in front of them?

Researchers also discovered that dogs usually tilt their heads in the same direction regardless of their owners’ standing.

They sometimes attentively tilt their heads at their owners, trying to absorb every word they’re saying. An external ear canal captures sound, funnels it to the middle and inner ears, and then to the brain.

The middle ear muscles are controlled by the same part of their brain that controls their facial expressions and head movements. So, when a dog cocks his head sideways, he is focused on you and trying to hear your voice.

Bulldogs and Boston Terriers, which have shorter faces, tilt their heads less since their short noses do not interfere with their movement like dogs with long muzzles.

Infections of the organ canal caused by bacteria or yeast may cause pain, itching, and the occasional head tilt. A consistent head tilt that’s not associated with communication may indicate a medical problem. Holding the highest to the side may mean a neurological issue like a vestibular disease.

You should consult a vet if your dear doggo shakes or cocks its head without auditory stimulation. Onpets provides vet on-call service right from the comfort of your home.

Book an online vet consultation or call us for a vet home visit. 

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Source: cdc.gov 

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