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Science Surprisingly Finds Why Dogs Often Tilt Their Heads

Science Surprisingly Finds Why Dogs Often Tilt Their Heads

If you’ve ever found yourself having a conversation with a canine companion (and you’re not alone), you’ve probably noticed your little pal tilting his head whenever you spoke to him. I’m willing to bet you did the same thing in return, and might have even replied with a “baroo?” of your own, mocking your pet in a friendly way.

But, it turns out, little Rover tilts his head in a questioning way for a reason that’ll make you think twice before making fun of him – even in a teasingly friendly manner.

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Emotional intelligence

Anyone who’s ever owned a dog knows how smart they are. You can teach them to sit, stay, speak, roll over…really, the amount of tricks a dog can learn is phenomenal. But canines are also incredibly sensitive to the emotional well-being of those around them, regardless of species.

Your dog knows when you’re happy, when you’re sad, when you need company, and when you want to be left alone. You don’t need me to tell you that they share in your joy or misery; the way they react to your physical actions and vocal inflections is evidence enough. Obviously, a huge part of their ability to pick up on these cues is their ability to see the face you’re making, and the actions you’re taking. Therein lies, at least in part, the reason why your little buddy tilts his head whenever you talk to him.

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Nosey Little Boy

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to see the world through the eyes of a dog, you probably just imagined being a bit shorter and crawling on all fours. One thing you likely haven’t taken into consideration is the fact that your face would protrude a bit farther out than it does when you’re in human form. Imagine taping a paper cup to your nose (or actually do it if you’re home alone!), and you’ll have a pretty good idea of how your puppy sees the world.

This was the focus of a study done by Dr. Stanley Coren, a professor of psychology who has dedicated his career to enhancing our understanding of what goes on in our canine friends’ heads on a daily basis.

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For his research, Coren surveyed 582 dog owners, asking them to report on the instances of their dog tilting their head in response to verbal cues from humans. The dogs were categorized as having either long or short snouts, with the hypothesis being that the longer-snouted dogs would tilt their head significantly more often than their shorter-snouted buddies.

Some Breed Tilt More

The results were pretty spot on. 71% of people who owned long-snouted dogs, such as collies, reported their pets tilt their head more often than not when they’re being spoken to. Comparatively, 52% of those who own short-snouted dogs, such as pugs, reported the same. Altogether, 62% of all owners answered that they’re canine buddies often tilted their heads in response to verbal cues from themselves or other humans.

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Again, imagine you had a cup taped to the front of your face. You’d probably sacrifice binocular vision if you wanted to get a clear view of whatever object or being is directly in front of you, and would tilt one full eye toward your target, right? It appears that this is exactly the reason dogs tilt their heads when you speak to them.

Enhance Vision and Your Reaction

Coren did note that your dogs’ head-tilting might be a combination of an attempt to enhance vision and the positive reaction they get from you when they do it. Like I said in the intro, I don’t think I’m the only one who imitates my little buddy’s head tilt whenever he does it, and gives him a little more attention for being so cute. Says Coren, “Perhaps the dogs are really just trying to look cute. Nonetheless this study is a first step toward finding the answer (as to why they tilt their heads), and at least we now have a bit of data to work with.”

Featured photo credit: Sonny the Miniature Goldendoodle / Andrea Arden via farm9.staticflickr.com

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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Review Your Past Flow

Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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