Why Do Dogs Tilt Their Heads? Learning Your Pup's Behavior

Oluwatosin Michael
Oct 06, 2023 By Oluwatosin Michael
Originally Published on Oct 12, 2021
An American Foxhound dog with large floppy ears looking at the camera with a head tilt.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.0 Min

Do your pet dogs tilt their heads when you talk to them?

A dog head tilt looks really cute. But what triggers this behavior?

Have you ever noticed your dog tilting its head and thought why would your dog tilt his head? According to Stanley Coren, a dog's head tilt may be related to their vision as well as to adjust their ears towards a particular noise. This way their ears are easily able to listen to noise emanating from a specific source.

When you notice a dog tilting its head, you find it quite adorable and cute. But have you ever thought about why head tilting is done by several dogs?

Many dogs tilt their head many times a day. If a dog is tilting its head after looking at you, you do not have to worry as it will not harm you at all.

It is not a sign of a harmful act from the canine for which you have to worry. After reading about dog tilt, you may also like reading about why dogs cough and why dogs drag their butts.

What does it mean when your dog tilts his head?

If you have a pet dog at your place and want to know its every response to all the happenings in its surrounding, you must be aware of the small things it does, like head tilting while being around people.

When dogs tilt their heads, it is considered totally harmless as these tilts are not a sign that the dog is thinking of harming you.

When dogs hear any new or suspicious sounds or any interesting words from you or other family members, they usually tilt their heads. This head tilting by many dogs is done when they find things strange or fascinating many times.

There will be many times when a dog will find your new friends interesting and want to know more about them. They have high visual powers to elaborate things around them carefully.

They would like to know them better to be more comfortable around them. They will tilt their head to know who the person standing in front of them is.

If you offer any new play toy to your dog, you will notice that they will first stop, make flatter faces, and wonder what the thing actually is. They will tilt their head to examine the toy from all directions.

Is it normal for dogs to tilt their heads?

It is considered completely normal for a dog to tilt their head at humans. The canine will perform the same activity to figure out things that are new to them.

A dog will cock his head in one direction to examine a suspicious thing and turn his head back to the normal position gradually. Though, this behavior of many puppies and grown-up dogs is not fully understood by experts.

One reason that dogs tilt their head is to keep their ears in the right position to listen clearly to the sound coming. Many people also believed that head tilting is done by dogs to look at any new thing from all the edges by rotating their eyes to each corner.

Try to say your dog’s name in front of him in a funny way and look at how your pup will smile to it. Their head may tilt towards your side.

A dog will ask a simple question of what your act means by tilting his head after listening to your funny jokes.

Try to do something silly in front of your puppy and see him getting a bit confused about what you are actually trying to emote. They get puzzled over a few things and try to think what could be the reason behind it.

What to do when your dog tilts his head?

Dog head tilting is considered normal and adorable at the same time. Many people find this dog’s act very cute. But there are some medical complications that you also must take care of if you notice your dog tilting its head repeatedly.

Dogs may tilt their heads as a sign of any health-related problem. This tilting of the head is a response to sound or sight stimuli and is done by vestibular dysfunction in abnormal conditions. This abnormality starts with the inner ear of the dog.

This inflammation in the vestibular system can be caused due to many health-related problems like infections in the ear, brain diseases, head trauma, presence of tumors in the brain or in the middle or inner ear canal, horner’s syndrome, and many more.

You are advised to visit your dog’s doctor immediately if you find an abnormal tilting of your dog’s head very often.

These diseases can be cured when treated in the early stages.

A Pit Bull Terrier looking at the camera with a head tilt

Does tilting their head mean dogs are confused?

It is not certain that if a dog is tilting its head, it means it is in a confused state every time. Dogs tilt and cock their heads when you talk in front of them or directly with them.

They love to be a part of your conversation and when you mention them in your convos with your friends. They like the acceptance from their owners and love to make you feel they are happy being around you.

Dogs tilt their heads to the side while they are shy and also smile at you while you are playing silly games with them.

It is not always that dogs tilt their heads only when they are confused. They have an examining nature which enables them to tilt their head every time they see something new.

No doubt dogs have good visual vision and smelling senses, which could be a reason why dogs puzzle over a few things like when they listen to a strange voice near them. They try to convey the feeling they have in several situations through their body language that is by tilting their heads.

They react to new words used by their owners in front of them.

Do dogs try to understand their owners by tilting their heads?

Dog owners will agree to this that a dog tries to figure out what his owner is up to and many times gets puzzled while figuring out its activities. It could be a reason that dogs may tilt their head in order to understand their master.

When no one can understand your emotions, your dog always catches your feelings and makes you feel calm. Pet dogs can hear and feel each emotion of its owner. It is said that dogs have a good sense to feel things around them.

A pet dog may help you in overcoming your stress while figuring out what you actually want. Dogs tilt their head to ask you whether you are OK or not.

They stay with you to make you feel calmer and relaxed being surrounded by them. Dogs make use of their body language to understand you better like they lower their heads when feeling insecure. There are many incidents witnessed by humans where a dog has helped humans in many ways when they heard suspicious sounds.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for why do dogs tilt their heads then why not take read about why dogs dig and purrrfect facts about the Ragamuffin cat kids will love?

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Written by Oluwatosin Michael

Bachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology

Oluwatosin Michael picture

Oluwatosin MichaelBachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology

With a Bachelor's in Microbiology from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Oluwatosin has honed his skills as an SEO content writer, editor, and growth manager. He has written articles, conducted extensive research, and optimized content for search engines. His expertise extends to leading link-building efforts and revising onboarding strategies. 

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