“Dogs do plenty of cute things, but there are few behaviors more adorable than the head tilt,” stated dogtime.com about the mystery of why dogs tilt their heads.
“Dogs have evolved to be very good at understanding humans. They can read our body language, facial gestures, and speech patterns to empathize with us. They even recognize certain words and vocal tones and associate them with playtime, walks, or food,” according to dogtime.com.
“When they tilt their heads, it’s possible that they are trying to filter what we are saying to pick out those familiar parts of our language,” added dogtime.com.
Many theories exist as to why dogs tilt their heads, but there is no actual proven theory. Even though dogs can hear higher frequencies than humans, this does not mean they can track down where the sounds come from as well as humans, stated dogtime.com.
“Some experts believe that when a dog tilts its head, it’s trying to adjust the pinnae, or outer ears, to better detect where a sound is coming from. So when you’re making a weird noise, your dog might be thinking, That’s weird. I better find out if that sound is really coming from my human,” added dogtime.com.
One theory related to the previous one is that maybe dogs tilt their heads to better hear sounds, reported by psychologytoday.com. “Some people have suggested that dogs tilt their heads to the side when we speak to them so that one ear can hear more clearly what we are saying,” added psychologytoday.com.
When dogs tilt their heads, it may not be all about hearing; they could be trying to get a better visual perspective of something. “Try the following simple experiment; hold your fist up to your nose as in the figure here. Now, in effect, you are viewing the world with a head shape that has a muzzle like that of a dog,” according to psychologytoday.com.
“If you now look at a person’s face you will find that the muzzle will block some of your vision, and reduce your ability to see the lower part of the face. Remember it is this part of the face, particularly the mouth region, which is a vital component of human emotional expressions. Next, still with your muzzle in place, tilt your head when you are looking at the face. With this head posture you can now clearly see the mouth region,” added psychologytoday.com.
Dogs may just simply be trying to understand us when they tilt their heads, or we taught them to do it. “The muscles of a dog’s middle ear are controlled by a part of the brain that’s also responsible for facial expressions and head movements, so when a canine tilts his head, he’s trying to perceive what you’re saying, as well as communicate to you that he’s listening,”reported mnn.com. “Others have suggested that it is a social signal—perhaps the dog recognizes that we respond to that particular posture in a positive way (because it is so cute) and therefore the dog adopts this position because they are more likely to get smiles and rewards when they do,” stated psychologytoday.com.