Why Dogs Tilt Their Heads


You know how dogs will sometimes tilt their heads adorably with an almost quizzical look on their face, as if they’re trying to process information or figure something out? It appears that what we think it means is more or less what it does mean.

When researchers at Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest worked with more than three dozen dogs over several months, they found that those who were already known to be gifted at learning words and associating them with specific objects tilted their heads much more often when hearing the names of different toys than dogs who were more “typical” when it came to understanding human language. Specifically, the gifted word learners tilted their heads 43 percent of the time when hearing the cue to go fetch a certain toy. The other dogs tilted their heads 2 percent of the time in the same circumstance. The results were published in the journal Animal Cognition.

The researchers theorize that the head tilting could indicate increased attention, perhaps because the dogs were making a match in their brains between the word and a memory of what the toy looked like. Whatever the reason, that head tilting sure is cute.


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