This Is Why Dogs Tilt Their Heads When We Talk to Them

Dogs are fun beings. They chase their tails, do tricks, bury things, determine if we should have bones, and have an undeniable connection to humans. In fact, dogs seem to be so in tune with us that they understand most of what we are saying. One way we know (besides them listening to a command) is how they zero in on us and perhaps do a cute dog thing like tilt their head. Sure it is adorable but does it really mean they understand us? Is it a gesture of confusion? Or do dogs think we are weird? (We are strange but that’s not the point.) A recent research study reveals why dogs tilt their heads at us and it’s more than you’d expect.

This news, which we found out via DesignTaxi, comes from the Animal Cognition journal. The study, led by Andrea Sommese, took 40 dogs and set them on a verbal command task. Of course, this research took months of prep, including training dogs to recognize certain commands and objects.

brown dog on a leash tilts its head
Julissa Helmuth/ Pexels

The dogs who did a cute head tilt were more likely to carry out the command than those who don’t. This means the dogs are likely listening to what humans are saying and/or processing images of something (like a toy) in their brains before taking action. Maybe they really do picture grass, trees, and such when we say we want to go outside. It would be similar to what we do when we are thinking, whether that’s tapping our fingers or shifting our eyes.

There’s still more to discover in this doggie mystery. Why do they tilt to one side over the other one? Why do some dogs tilt their heads more than others? We may never know all the answers to these questions. But we do know that we want to see more head tilting, please.

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