crittr head tilt

Why does your dog tilt his head?

One of the hardest temptations to resist, more seductive than sin, are the famous puppy-dog eyes. But in my heavenly opinion, what’s even tougher to resist is when your pooch adorably cocks his head to a side, his expression quizzical or sometimes begging. It’s game over for your will. But what’s behind the head-tilt?

Who barks there?

There could be several reasons (the head-tilt works in mysterious ways). But one of them is that your dog could be trying to figure out where the sound is coming from. Despite being able to hear a wide range of frequencies much better than humans, dogs have some trouble locating the source of the sound. Their brains are calculating the tiny differences between the time it takes for a sound to reach their ears and just a change in position could drastically improve this process.

Can’t read lips

Imagine if I had given you a snout instead of a nose. Sure, you might be able to take in the all the world’s smells and fragrances and hold more food in your mouth while chewing but you wouldn’t be able to see the full picture very well. For example, try holding an object in front of your nose and ask another person to talk to you face to face. I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t be able to see their mouth. But if you were to tilt your head, suddenly lo and behold you get a better view.  


What if you’re standing right in front of your pooch, and then the head-tilt ensues? Well, this could have something to do with your dog’s ability to empathise. Doggies are good at reading and responding to humans’ nonverbal and verbal cues. So when you’re cooing at your pup or lecturing him, he’s absorbing it all, even if the literal message is not received. Dogs can even recognise certain words or tone of voice. It’s quite possible they’re trying to listen for those words which are associated with fun activities like playing or treats.

Too many feelings

Your pup could simply be living and learning like the rest of you lot. Maybe you’ve unknowingly conditioned him into tilting his head with following it up with treats or praise because you just couldn’t stand how cute he looked every time he did it. Alternatively, if your pup is a frequent head-tilter, it could also be because he is especially empathetic. Some experts say that dogs who are more socially apprehensive are not as prone to giving you the head-tilt when spoken to.  But not tilting, does not a Cujo out of your dog make. In contrast, too much head-tilting without cause could indicate a possible ear infection. 

Now that you’re starting to understand how your pet communicates, I wish you both a deep bond and better connection. Blessings!