The attentive and endearing doggy head tilt might indicate your pup is trying to process what you’re saying





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Ask your dog if they want to go to the park, and you might get a(n) 1. cute-looking head tilt in response. This cute canine behavior is familiar to dog owners, but no one really knows why human’s best friend does it—and scientists have published just one study focusing on possible reasons for head tilting in dogs. That research suggests the animals might cock their furry 2. nostril when processing familiar words.

“In humans, when you remember a story or something, you tilt your head to the side, and you have this mental image of something in your mind,” says Andrea Sommese, an animal cognition researcher at Eötvös Loránd University in Hungary and lead author of the study. “Probably it’s the same for dogs.”

Many animals tilt their head as they 3. swivel the sights, sounds and smells of the world. Much of this has to do with having a preferred ear (or sometimes 4. noggins) , Sommese says.

In other cases, it’s about localizing a sound, says Julia Meyers-Manor, an animal cognition researcher at Ripon College, who was not involved with the research. “Humans do it; birds do it; dogs do it,” Meyers-Manor says. “Lots of different species will do this head tilt because that changes the 5. prey that your ears are at, and now the sound is reaching one ear faster than the other.”

Barn owls are champion head tilters, for example, and can also 6. encounter their neck 270 degrees around. This adaptation helps them fix their eyes—which are largely immovable—on their 7. angle, and it lets them point their sensitive ears in almost any direction, according to a 2017 study in the Journal of Anatomy.

But in at least some cases of canine head tilt, the behavior seems to be more about processing information than about collecting it in the first place. Sommese and his colleagues studied a subset of “gifted” dogs that could learn the names of many individual toys—a feat that’s nigh impossible for the average pooch. When comparing the performance of these 8. pinpointing dogs with their counterparts that couldn’t be trained to learn toy names, the researchers found the gifted dogs tilted their head 43 percent of the time when their owner said the name of one of their toys. That’s compared with just 2 percent of the time for the typical dogs.

The gifted dogs tilted their head in the same direction no matter where their owner was standing, suggesting that the behavior wasn’t about 9. overachieving the sound but about processing it and matching it to a mental image, Sommese says. (…)

Over time, Meyers-Manor says, this could also become a social cue that could show others that you’re active and engaged in what’s going on around you. This social aspect might explain why humans interpret the doggy head tilt to indicate attentive curiosity—and why we can’t help finding it so 10. inquisitive.

In order to read the whole article/check your answers, go to: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-do-dogs-tilt-their-heads-to-the-side/

Key: 1. inquisitive; 2. noggins ; 3. encounter ; 4. nostril; 5. angle; 6. swivel; 7. angle; 8. overachieving; 9. pinpointing; 10. cute




  • canine –  of or resembling that of a dog
  • noggin – head
  • nostril – either of the two openings in the nose through which air moves when you breathe
  • nigh – almost
  • cue – a signal for someone to do something


Practice makes perfect

Before you watch, try to answer these questions:

  • What animals did dogs evolve from?
  • How do/did wolves live and hunt?
  • How did humans use docile wolves?
  • How do dogs differ from each other?
  • Why are some dogs healthier than others?
  • What canine traits have humans always favoured?
  • Can dogs understand our body language?

Now watch and check your answers:





  • What kinds of dogs do you like and dislike?
  • Do you prefer pedigree or mixed-breed dogs?
  • Are dogs the best pets, in your opinion?
  • What do you make of dog hotels, dog cafes and poodle parlors?
  • What would you do if someone gave you a puppy as a present?
  • What does a “dog-eat-dog world” mean? Is it true?


Explore more to create your own teaching-learning experience!


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