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2 Logical Reasons Why Dogs Tilt Their Head

2 Logical Reasons Why Dogs Tilt Their Head

During my childhood, when I still had a dog, one of the things that always confused me about his behavior was the very known head tilt that all dogs do sometimes.

However, I was always confused on what that meant. As kids, we simply believed that it was a confused reaction to a strange sound, so we tried to replicate the sounds to see if he would do it again, but he never did.

So, why do dogs do this? What is the cause? Well, in this article, we will talk about what some of the reasons could be.

It Helps Them With Hearing

pitbull tilting head

This is not always the case, but in some instances, tilting their head might have something to do with hearing. How?

While dogs technically have better hearing than we do, as they are able to pick up more sounds, it’s not quite like ours.

Our ears allow us to hear more sound from all directions, while they have ear flaps that prevent that.

If you’re wondering how this affects a dog’s actions, well, according to the animal behaviorist, Jill Goldman, they might sometimes tilt their head to better pick up on all the sounds.[1] 

The human behavior that typically causes this reaction can be any weird noise, or dog owners when they baby talk their dog, which is pretty common.

Head Tilt And Vision

Some researchers believe that a head tilt can be caused by a dog’s vision as well. Stanley Coren, Ph.D. in psychology, believes that canines can sometimes tilt their head to better interpret body language.[2] 

What does this mean, exactly? Well, in his study, he speculates that when dogs try to understand a human, they analyze more than just their face

A human’s body language also plays a role in this, so if their muzzle prevents the full view of their owner, they might tilt their head to see better.

A lot of dogs have different muzzles, so this can be quite an issue for them sometimes.

Is It Ok If Dogs Do This

maltese dog lying at home on a sofa and tilting his head

So, naturally, I think many of us would be worried if this could have a negative effect on our canines. 

Aside from the fact that it’s adorable when they do it, there are no negative side-effects to your dog tilting his head.

However, there is a possibility that your dog has an external ear infection, which could cause excessive head tilting. In this case, you might want to get a vet checkup to be sure. 

In most cases, that is not a problem, so when he is tilting his head, it would be a good idea to maybe pet him or give him a treat to show that you are acknowledging him and the fact that he might be intently listening to you.

That being said, more research is still needed to fully understand this behavior. 

Regardless, all signs point to the fact that it has a positive effect on both the dog and his owner, so next time you see your dog tilting his head, be sure to give him a pat on the head.


[1] Goldman J, PhD (2019, January 29).  Why do Dogs Tilt Their Head. Dr. Jill Goldman Blog. Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist.

[2] Coren S, PhD (2013, December 13). Why Some Dogs Tilt Their Heads When You Talk to Them. Psychology Today.