Why do dogs tilt their heads?


Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/06/03/why-do-dogs-tilt-their-heads.html


Why do dogs tilt their heads?

Because they know it’s yet another way to insinuate themselves into human hearts.


I’ve read it’s because binocular vision, except ears. Sadly, I can’t tolerate the video. Did I spoil it?


Not “they know”, I think, but “natural selection has resulted in”.
Understanding humans and behaving like small children are presumably the dog traits that in the past meant the difference between a kick, and a seat near the campfire being fed.


But then, why do humans tilt their heads when puzzled or thinking about something? I’ve definitely see people do it, and I know I do it without thinking about it. Did I learn it from watching dogs? Do dogs learn it from watching us? Is it neurological or cultural? Do dogs in the wild who have never seen a human tilt their heads? Do humans who have never socialized with dogs tilt their heads?


Bet you’re a ball at parties.


I’ve been intrigued by this behavior for a long time. After watching dogs interact with people, other dogs, and even other animals, I have come to believe that head tilting is a form of communication. It’s a dog’s way of saying “I’m engaged in sharing with you”. It’s a signal that you got his/her attention. Humans do this too.


Show of hands: who else tilted their head while reading this title? :raising_hand:


I watched a Q&A video with Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, and one of the questions was how SPS’s Shakespeare background helped him on TNG. He said that the costumes had no pockets, like Shakespearean tights, so unlike other male cast members, he knew what to do with his hands, which was: “nothing”.

I am therefore guessing that this guy’s science credentials do not include Troilus and Cressida.


Being severely deaf, I don’t do parties.


I’d lean more toward the audio rather than visual option here. For example, owls have asymmetric ears for better location-based hearing. Also, I couldn’t help but think of the Victrola ad when I was going through this.


I agree.

This is like asking “why do dogs wag their tails?”


Not me but I do have a dog currently licking my toes


Oh, that one’s easy!

We does walk now?


I’ve always sort of assumed it had something to do with improving triangulation on a sound. But it’s very interesting to hear all of these different hypotheses about it.


Or natural selection worked on humans and those that found doggie behavior attractive and kept them close had a higher survival rate.


Why do they face sled?


Well, dogs do have mirror neurons that fire when they engage with humans, so in that sense dogs have the neurological capacity to reflect human emotional states (not all animals do - iirc, it’s some apes, canines, & equines?). It’s been theorized that canines were “primed” for human companionship because of this capability and that breeding has enhanced it, which is why dogs are great assistance and therapy animals (among other reasons, too).


I’ve seen that suggested by some anthropologists, yes. Not only assistance with hunting, but garbage disposal meant fewer infections among tribes that kept dogs versus those who didn’t; also they could stay in one place longer because the garbage heaps didn’t build up so much, thus leading to settled towns.
The idea that man/dog is a symbiosis has some traction. Dogs seem to have had some sort of domestication from at least 17 000 years ago - long before sheep or cattle.


My first reaction was to search for a shot of my dude tilting his head cuz he’s a beagle and does it perfectly, and somehow I don’t have one on my phone. This makes no sense at all and will be rectified when I get home. I’m fairly disappointed with myself.

Edit: FB to the rescue (wow that was weird to say…)