Dogs do a lot of things that amuse and delight us.One of the more endearing things dogs do is to tilt their heads when they listen to you. Humans think it's cute—but why do dogs do it? As with many types of dog behavior, until your furry friend is able to talk to you, it's hard to know for sure. But here are some reasons why dogs tilt their heads when they listen.
To Hear You BetterAlthough your dog understands some specific words, much of what you say is garbled to him. It's similar to you hearing a foreign language, especially if you know just a few common words in that language. You strain to pick up the words you recognize from a torrent of undecipherable noise. Your dog is the same way. He knows you're talking to him, so he's trying to pick up those words he understands so he can respond appropriately. By tilting his head, he is honing in on the best position to understand you as clearly as he can. This is common in dogs with floppy ears that turn their whole heads to reposition their ears. Dogs with erect ears can turn their ears independently of each other—although they too may tilt their heads when listening.
To See You BetterDogs rely heavily on body language. They also read human faces remarkably well. But their muzzle limits their field of vision. Make a fist and put your thumb against your nose and look out. This gives you some idea of what a dog sees. When he looks at you straight on, he can't see your mouth. But if he tilts his head a little, he can get a better view of your whole face and use that input, along with your tone and your words, to better understand what you're telling him.