Why Do Dogs Tilt Their Heads When You Talk To Them?


Dog head tilt

There’s something adorable with a dog that tilts its head, especially while a human is talking to it. You see this scene in movies and in animated cartoons. And you see this in real life. Probably this is how your dog reacts whenever you speak to it.

It’s also funny how your dog knows to do that when you ask questions like, “Who’s been good today? Or when you ask, “Do you want to go out with me?” The head will tilt and you’re just so hooked. Even when what you said was, “Now, who’s really been a bad pet today?”

But why does a dog do this? And when? If you’ve wondered about these yourself, then this article is for you. Here we talk about the why and the when. So read on to get some insight into this amusing habit of your pet.

Dog head tilt
Smile KB / Flickr

When Does a Dog Tilt Its Head?

Dogs tilt their heads in different scenarios. Some are:

  • When you ask a question.
  • When you say a keyword or phrase that it understands.
  • When your tone gets calm and affectionate.
  • When your tone goes up like when you do to end every question you ask.

Why Does Your Dog Tilt Its Head?

Animal doctors and behaviorists have yet to pinpoint the accurate reasons why a dog tilts its head, especially during a “conversation” with their humans. But here are some common and logical reasons we can consider.

1. Your pup tilts its head out of curiosity. When you talk to your dog and arouse its curiosity, it might tilt its head as it observes your language and your movements.

2. Your pup tilts its head in response to sound. Your dog not only tilts its head while you’re talking to it. Other times, the dog tilts its head to concentrate on a sound that it’s heard. It’s natural for your pet dog to tilts its head while it tries to process what it’s hearing. And it is likely to tilt its head when your dog hears something for the first time.

3. Your pup tilts its head as a means of communicating with you. Some theorize that your dog tilts its head during a “conversation” to interact with you or as an attempt to understand and respond to you.

4. Another theory that behaviorists present is that a dog tilts its head for better focusing. In conversation, your furry pet tilts its head to give a better look at you. It’s concentrating on its owner and on what the owner is saying through words and through body language. At other times, it may be outdoors (or even indoors) and something will catch its attention. It may then start tilting its head to the side. Your dog does this to get its nose out of the way and to better get a visual onto the object of his curiosity.

We should also mention that dogs can pick off sounds at great distances. Sometimes, it may be hearing something you’re not. And that’s why it would tilt its head even when you’re not talking to it.

Boxer dog head tilt
Christine Lynch / Flickr

Final Thoughts

We now understand that dogs may tilt their heads in response to sounds, keywords, and tones they hear. So when you say words that they recognize, they might tilt their head in excitement or in recognition of that keyword. Also, high tones or pitches can trigger them to tilt their heads because they got curious. And since they can hear sounds from far places, they may just tilt their head in response to that sound, even though you’re not talking to your pet.


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