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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, 2019

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

6. Give for the Joy of Giving

When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

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Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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