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Many owners may have noticed that their dog tends to tilt their head to the left or the right when spoken to.

This funny behavior often makes us smile because it gives our faithful doggies a particularly touching mimicry.

But what is really the significance of this behavior that one often observes in the man’s best friend?

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The dogs bow their heads to see us better

According to dear Stanley Coren, whom you may not know by name, but who you must have heard of the intelligence test that praises Border Collies and German Shepherds, dogs would bow their heads when spoken to for a purely pragmatic reason.

Indeed, it would seem that this is linked to a very simple problem of visibility : dogs with the muzzle in the middle of the face, it would partly mask the view of our face.

Also, by tilting their heads, our faithful doggies would be able to see better our facial expressions and, in fact, to read our emotions to adapt their behavior accordingly.

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According to an experiment conducted by the same Coren, 62% of 582 owners surveyed noted that their dog frequently tilted its head when they spoke to them.

Of these dogs, most of those with long, broad muzzles demonstrated a greater tendency to tilt their heads, while dogs with flat muzzles more readily keep their heads upright.

With Coren’s annoying muzzle theory based on this one experience alone, it’s no wonder that other experts in the dog world continue to dig into the question and come up with a whole different theory.

A dog that tilts its head is sociable

Veterinarian Meredith Stepita pulls the rug out from under Dr. Coren’s feet by providing another explanation for this curious behavior.

For her, dogs bow their heads when they feel like their owner is trying to tell them something important.

In this way, they would try to analyze your words’ content by focusing particularly on the tone of our voice and our facial expressions.

In fact, they are more likely to nod their heads when they think they understand that you are telling them the good news, such as time for a walk or meals.

Dogs that nod their heads would therefore be more sociable than others and would show more empathy.

They would indeed demonstrate a greater capacity to read our emotions and prejudge our intentions through our tone and facial expressions.

However, Dr. Stepita announces that dogs that do not bow their heads are not so much less kind and attentive doggies, but are perhaps only less interested in trying to understand their owners the best.

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The dogs bow their heads to hear us

Just as pragmatic as Coren’s, another theory postulates that dogs bow their heads to better hear their masters.

If their hearing can pick up sound frequencies that we do not perceive, however, it struggles to determine the origin of a sound and is even less efficient than the human ear on this level.

Therefore, dogs may bow their heads to make sure that the words they hear are really coming from their owner and not from some other element of their environment.

On the other hand, it seems that dogs with floppy ears are the most inclined to tilt their head when talking to them.

This suggests that they are trying to clear their ear canals to hear better, supporting this latest theory on this mysterious – and adorable – behavior.

Dogs tilt their heads to focus

Other experts in the canine world argue that dogs often tilt their heads when intrigued by something, even though the object of their attention is neither a living being nor a source of the noise.

However, this does not discredit the theory of the ears and the muzzle because it is possible to envisage that the dog tries to detect a sound or see better what intrigues him.

It is also possible that by tilting its head, the dog stimulates its vestibular system, responsible for sending mainly spatial information to its brain.

Some studies suggest that the vestibular system could make it possible to fill deficits in the nervous system’s right hemisphere.

Also, the dog which tilts its head could seek, in this way, to concentrate better because the right hemisphere of the brain plays a considerable role in the mechanism of attention.

Moreover, this attitude, which is observed more in young puppies, could be an instinctive behavior that allows animals to focus on an intriguing element to analyze it better and determine what behavior to adopt.

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The dogs bow their heads … without wanting to

Another explanation would be that the dogs bow their heads without any real explanation, a somewhat disappointing hypothesis, but which, however, holds.

Indeed, when an animal (or a human) concentrates on something, it can be made to perform involuntary movements without noticing it.

This type of parasitic movement is found in humans, for example, when a child sticks out his tongue when learning to write.

Therefore, it is conceivable that dogs bow their heads without consciously wanting it and only perform this funny mimicry when they are concentrated on an object, a noise, the words of their masters, or any other stimulus that fascinates them.

Whatever reason dogs nod their heads when we talk to them, it seems like they always do this to understand us better.

Whether it is to hear us correctly, decipher our emotions, or see our faces well, this head movement is synonymous with a desire to listen and satisfy their master.

However, theories remain purely hypothetical and have only been put forward thanks to a careful observation of our four-legged companions, without finding a physiological explanation for this curious mechanism.

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