Why do Dogs Tilt Their Heads?

Ever wondered why our dogs tilt their heads? We see videos all over social media of doggies tilting left and right whenever their name is called or they hear a sound. Here are some reasons why our furry friends have the tendency to tilt to their side.

dogs tilt their heads

When they hear a sound…

Dogs have a lot more sensitive to sounds than humans. They are able to sense the frequencies and sounds that we cannot. Did you know that a dog’s directional hearing is a lot more limited than human hearing abilities? 

This is where the dog head tilt comes in. A human ear can differentiate from where the sound comes from, without having to twist their heads. Well, with dogs, they have ear flaps that can cover the ear canal. Think of it as a wall that separates the sound from the ear canal. So dogs have to turn their heads to get the best possible detection of the sound. The interesting thing about the dog’s ear flap is that it can move to the position needed to focus on the location of the sound. 

Note that with different breeds means they have different ways of hearing. 

How tilting helps…

Dogs will lift their ear flaps and tilt their heads for better sound gathering. For example, a dog will tilt their head in the direction of the sound if it came from the front. If it comes from behind, the dog will turn before adjusting their head. Head tilts with ear flap adjustments all help with the location and distance of the sound the dog is trying to hear.

Is tilting for communication…

Did you know dogs dissect everything we say? So they can better understand us, they listen to our words and how we say them. The reason they stare at us is so they can listen clearly and watch for our facial expressions and body language. This is why we sometimes notice our dogs tilting their heads at us, simply so they can understand what we are telling them and concentrate on us. 

When our dogs are tilting their head during a conversation with us, they are showing engagement. Dogs who are more social and love the attention of their human will tilt their heads more often to keep the conversation flowing. 

Note that each breed twists more than others in order to understand better. They will need to tilt their heads to get around their snouts to see. Imagine having something in front of your nose, it can obstruct your line of sight, so you’ll need to turn to get a better view. This is what dogs do. In order to see our facial expressions, dogs need to turn their heads for a full view of our faces. 

Can it be a medical problem…

Keep an eye out that this doesn’t become a constant tick. Dogs can get infections in their external ear canal from any bacteria or yeast. They will probably have pain, itching, and a head tilt. When the infection is in the middle ear, their head tilts become more consistent. Contact your vet if you notice your dog tilting their head when they are not searching for sound or communion. 

Doogie head tilts are the cutest! Happy conversating, from the Fire Hydrant Team!

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