Why Dogs Tilt Their Heads

No, they're not just try­ing to look cute

Reader's Digest Asia Pacific - - Front Page - BY SAM BEN­SON SMITH


They al­ways seem to have your best in­ten­tions in mind, they al­ways look en­thu­si­as­tic and, even if you can’t nec­es­sar­ily prove it, you swear they can tell when you’re hav­ing a bad day. But they also have a pos­i­tively hu­man tick: the head tilt.

But what ex­actly does it mean? There are sev­eral ex­pla­na­tions, none of which in­clude “they’re try­ing to get rid of swimmer’s ear,” ac­cord­ing to men­talfloss.com. There ap­pear to be ben­e­fits to the move, part visual and part au­di­tory.

The ca­nine ear is in­cred­i­bly sen­si­tive, ca­pa­ble of pick­ing up a far wider range of fre­quen­cies than hu­mans. Their sharp sense of hear­ing can pick up the most mi­nus­cule un­du­la­tions in fre­quency, and their head-po­si­tion­ing makes a world of dif­fer­ence. The head tilt al­lows them to po­si­tion their pin­nae, the outer part of the ear, so they can lo­cate the source of the sound bet­ter.

Dr Stan­ley Coren wrote in Psy­chol­ogy To­day about a pos­si­ble visual ben­e­fit as well. A dog’s snout is firmly in its field of vi­sion. Although they ad­just and even­tu­ally learn to not no­tice it (much like hu­mans do with their noses – oh no, you’re star­ing at your nose now), the head tilt al­lows for a different an­gle. Usu­ally, a dog’s muzzle would block the lower part of the ob­ject it’s star­ing at, but the head tilt al­lows for a full view. Coren also sug­gests that dogs can get a bet­ter look at the hu­man mouth from the tilt po­si­tion.

So while the head tilt does help heighten cer­tain senses in dogs, it also helps them bet­ter un­der­stand the hu­mans that care for them. Isn’t that sweet?

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