Q & A: Tilting heads

Q: Why do dogs tilt their heads?

A: There’s nothing quite as cute as a dog tilting his head while looking at you. The head to the side, the slightly bemused expression – it’s absolutely adorable. But there might just be a good reason why some dogs do this.

Although dogs have incredible hearing, they may not always be able to pick up exactly where a sound is coming from. Tilting the head adjust the position of the ears, which may improve a dog’s ability to detect the source of a sound. There may be a visual aspect as well: a dog with a large snout, such as a German Shepherd, may tilt his head to better see the source of what’s taken his interest. In these cases, it seems to be in response to something the dog finds a little puzzling, or something that incites curiosity and interest. Of course, if a dog has been rewarded with loads of attention for tilting his head, he may do so more often.

However, if your dog tilts his head frequently or chronically, it’s time to schedule a vet visit. Tilting can indicate a health issue, such as ear trouble.

Katherine Brown, behaviourist

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