You may think your pup is just so doggone cute when he tilts his head to one side, hanging on your every word. But is he listening intently, or is it something else? Animal behavior experts say that dogs are good at responding to body language and vocal cues, and that it’s possible that they are listening for specific words or inflections -- especially those that could lead to fun outdoor activities or food. But the head tilt may also be connected to how a dog’s ear is constructed, and by angling his head, a dog may be trying to pick up on useful sensory information. Stanley Cohen, a noted psychologist known for his best-selling books on the mental abilities of dogs, says that the head tilt may also be related to sight. Depending on its size, a dog's muzzle may block his view of his owner's facial expressions, and by tilting his head, he's trying to get a better view.
I think he really understands:
- If your dog is a frequent head-tilter, it could mean that he is especially "in tune" with your body language and tone of voice.
- Some experts say that dogs who are more apprehensive are less likely to tilt their heads when spoken to.
- Also possible: Your dog recognizes that you respond favorably when he cocks his head, and he’s playing you for affection, or maybe more treats.