Have you ever noticed how your dog tilts his head as if he’s attempting to comprehend what you are saying? I think most people would agree that this innocent gesture in response to your voice melts your heart. So, we encourage them to do it repeatedly, we take pictures and videos to share on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and continue to praise this charming behavior because most humans find it irresistible and quite entertaining. 

Why exactly are they doing it? 

There are many theories about head tilting and here’s a few possible explanations. 


Dogs know how to respond to your emotions and can easily pick up on vocal clues and body language. When you tell your dog “good girl”, you are typically using a high tone voice and they associate this tone with good. Whereas, when you say “bad girl”, your voice is lower and your inflections indicate that you may not be happy with them at that moment. Dogs use those vocal clues along with your facial expressions to understand how you are feeling. A head tilt is a dogs way of showing you that they are engaged in what you are saying and they are showing us empathy. In other words, they are really just exploiting your emotions by looking cute. 

Locating sound  

Dogs have ear flaps that are useful for locating sound. Some dogs, particularly some with larger ears use the head tilt to try to decipher where the noise is coming from. They adjust their head to help them get their ears in a better position for listening. Even the slightest position change helps them get a better location of the sound. 

We’ve trained them to do it 

Head tilting is a normal response from a dog. If your dog frequently tilts his head in response to a noise, perhaps he is especially empathetic or he is attempting to exploit you with his cuteness. Or, it could mean that you’ve trained him to do it! When we react to the cuteness of a head tilt by praising, we are inadvertently training our dogs to continue with the head tilt. 

Certainly any concerns about head tilting should be discussed with your veterinarian.