Does Your Dog Tilt Its Head? What Does This Say About A Pet’s Intelligence?

Does your dog sometimes tilt his head left or right when you talk to him? Or if hears a sudden noise? Researchers have figured out why this might be. Spoiler alert: Your dog seems pretty smart.

Particularly intelligent dogs can not only memorize new toy names very quickly, but they can also memorize what they have learned over time – this was recently discovered by remarkable research. Now researchers have examined four-legged geniuses for another property: how often a dog tilts its head.

To do this, they analyzed videotapes of 33 “normal” dogs and seven dogs that were particularly good at remembering new words. Scientists quickly discovered that talented dogs, in particular, tilt their heads to one side when they hear the name of a (well-known) toy. Therefore, in the further course of the study, which appeared in the journal Animal Knowledge, they focused on canine geniuses.

Researchers are Studying Why the Dog Tilts its Head

“We studied the frequency and direction of this behavior in response to a specific verbal vocalization of a person: when the owner asks the dog to bring a toy, naming it. Because we have found that this often happens when dogs listen to their masters, ”explains Dr. Andrea Sommese, Principal Investigator.

Records that have followed dogs over 24 months show that the side to which the dog tilts its head always remains the same. It doesn’t matter where exactly the person is. This suggests that dogs have a favorite side when they tilt their head, wagging their tail or shaking their paws.

Talented Dogs Tilt Their Heads More Often

“There seems to be a link between success in finding the named toy and the frequent tilting of the head when the dog hears the name,” explains co-author Shani Dror. “This is why we offer a link between head tilt and the processing of relevant and meaningful stimuli.”

However, this only applies to a specific situation that was the focus of the study: when an owner asks his dog to bring a toy with a name on it. “It is therefore important not to think that only ‘talented word learning dogs’ bow their heads in situations that were not covered in this study,” says Andrea Temezi, who also conducted research for the project.

Increased Attention when Tilting Head?

When and why dogs tilt their heads to one side, is still not known exactly. But the results of this study are at least the first step. They show that this behavior occurs when dogs hear something important or suspicious. This means that if your dog tilts his head, he is probably especially alert. And maybe especially smart.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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