Thu. Mar 23rd, 2023

In the iconic painting “His Master’s Voice (opens in new tab),” a terrier cocks his head as he listens to his owner’s voice coming from a gramophone. This gesture is a single numerous dog owners will be familiar with, but why do dogs tilt their heads?

In a 2021 study in the journal Animal Cognition (opens in new tab), researchers in Hungary performed the very first scientific investigation of head-tilting in pooches. They discovered that dogs may possibly incline their heads as they are remembering specifics they discover meaningful.

“Head tilts in dogs are a pretty identified behavior, but the most surprising issue for me was that no a single prior to us investigated it,” study lead author Andrea Sommese (opens in new tab), an ethologist (a scientist who research all-natural animal behavior) at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, told Reside Science. 

In an earlier 2021 study in the journal Scientific Reports (opens in new tab), Sommese and his colleagues analyzed videos from about the globe in which dog owners asked their pets to fetch them a toy by saying its name. Even though 33 pooches have been not capable to understand the names of any new toys soon after 3 months of practice, seven gifted dogs have been capable to understand extra than ten names in the course of that time, with a single female border collie, Whisky, appropriately identifying 54 toys.

When conducting the study that appeared in Scientific Reports, the researchers noticed that all 40 of the dogs cocked their heads in the course of the tests. The scientists subsequent investigated when the canines performed these tilts.

Connected: Why do dogs and cats run about in random bursts of speed?

Gaia the dog and owner Isabella sitting collectively with a large pile of toys. They have been element of a all-natural animal behavior study at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest. (Image credit: Photo: Genius Dog Challenge / Isabelle)

In the following Animal Cognition study, the scientists discovered that the gifted dogs tilted their heads 43% of the time when asked to retrieve a toy by name. The other pooches tilted their heads in only two% of these situations.

“We are not claiming that only gifted dogs tilt their heads although common dogs in no way do it,” Sommese mentioned. “Standard dogs also do that, some extra frequently than other people, but in this certain predicament, when the owner asks for a toy by its name, only the gifted dogs show a good tilt.”

These findings recommend that dog head-tilts are associated to sounds the pets have discovered to discover critical. 

“Dogs tilt their heads in a quantity of conditions, but it appears that they do this only when they hear a thing that is extremely relevant to them,” Sommese mentioned. “It appears that this behavior is strongly linked with sound perception, and it may possibly be a thing they do when they are attempting to listen extra closely, or perhaps when they are a bit confused, just like humans do.”

In addition, the researchers discovered the side of the tilt was constant in the gifted dogs across 24 months of tests, but the favored side differed from canine to canine. This suggests a single side of the brain of every dog may possibly favor the mental activity underlying head-tilting, the scientists noted. Just as humans commonly favor utilizing a single hand more than the other, numerous dog behaviors favor a single side, such as the paw with which dogs attain for an item (opens in new tab), the path in which they favor wagging their tail (opens in new tab) and even the nostril they use extra in the course of sniffing (opens in new tab), they explained. 

Future analysis can discover what other sounds or contexts may possibly trigger canine head-tilting, mentioned Monique Udell (opens in new tab), a human-animal interaction researcher at Oregon State University, who did not take element in the research.

“Research like this a single are critical mainly because they remind us that we, as humans, also have a lot to understand about what a dog’s physique language is communicating to us,” Udell told Reside Science.

By Editor

One thought on “Why do dogs tilt their heads?”

Leave a Reply