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Why Do Dogs Tilt Their Heads?

dog tilting 2

Dogs are undeniably cute. From their puppy eyes to wagging tails, many of us just can't help oohing and ahhing over these animals' adorable features and traits. What gets us every time is the way dogs tilt their heads. As soon as a dog cocks his head and looks up, our hearts just melt. This action also has us wondering, why do dogs tilt their heads? After some extensive research on the subject, and it appears there's no for-sure answer. There are, however, a few theories that might explain this lovable habit. Let's take a look at the possibilities below. 

To hear and understand better

Dogs are not able to detect where a sound is coming from as well as humans. It's possible that when you're speaking to your pup and he tilts his head, he's trying to identify the source of the sounds he is hearing. 

Your dog might also be trying to hear the words you're saying more clearly, in order to identify certain words or phrases he recognizes. For example, if your dog knows the words "sit" or "treat," he might tilt his head in order to better hear the sounds he knows and can respond to. 

To see better

Dr. Stanley Coren from Psychology Today has an interesting theory to explain why dogs tilt their heads. According to Dr. Coren, the head tilt could be a result of vision problems. Many dogs have muzzles that could block some of their vision, making it difficult for them to see your mouth. Tilting their heads would make it easier for dogs to see your mouth when you are talking, which might also make it easier for them to identify your emotional expression.

Dog tilting head 1

To be praised

Positive reinforcement is an effective training strategy, so it's not hard to understand how dogs could be tilting their heads in order to receive praise. After hearing you and others squeal in delight when tilting their head, dogs learn that this movement gets a positive response, and that encourages them to do it more often. 

Whether dogs tilt their heads for one of the theories above or a mix of all three is unknown, but we do know one thing: dogs tilting their heads are adorable, and it's one of the many reasons why we fall in love with these furry, loyal animals.