If you were to make a list of the cutest things your dog does, “tilting their head when you talk to them” would most likely rank in the top three. It’s expressive, it’s adorable, and it shows that they’re really paying attention to you. While the research is still out on why they do this, here are the leading theories behind the head tilt.
They’re trying harder to hear you
Depending on the source and the distance, dog ears can better process sound when they tilt their heads. Given they live for words like “walk”, “park”, “dinner”, and “fetch”, your pooch is going to be focused on everything you say. As such, a tilted head could be their way of paying extra attention to every word leaving your mouth. They don’t want to miss an invitation to the park, after all.
They’re trying harder to see you
Have you every tried holding your fist to your nose and staring at someone’s face? You can’t quite see their mouth, can you? For long-nosed dogs, this is what they experience every time they look at you. Like humans, dogs don’t just use their ears to understand you when you’re talking. They also watch your movements, posture, and facial expressions.
Internet-based studies have pointed to a correlation between the length of a dog’s nose and the extent to which they tilt their heads. This gesture could be their way of fully watching your mouth when you speak.
The tilt is cute and they know it
Dogs are clever creatures. They can be taught to swim, they can learn to recognise up to 200 words, and they know to repeat a behaviour when it earns them praise. When your dog tilts their head, chances are you’ve said “Awwwwww”, “That’s so cute!”, or “You’re such a good boy!” in a tone that tells them that you mean it. This encourages them to tilt their heads again, likely with the hope that their gesture will be met with a treat, a walk, or a bully rub.
Does your dog tilt their head at you? Share your stories in the comments section below!