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Why do dogs tilt their heads to the side?

Updated: Jul 8, 2023

Article Written By Dog Trainer Jen Kaminski

In many of my dog training courses, students ask us about their dog's usual attitudes. One of the most recurring questions is, "why do dogs tilt their heads to the side?"

husky tilting his head and looking directly at the camera
Prehemptive Pet

Should this be seen as a signal sent to their master? Is this a subtle way to soften him to get a reward or be forgiven for something stupid? The American doctor Stanley Coren published an article in Psychology Today a few years ago. According to his study, dogs tilt their heads to see our facial features better since their muzzle blocks the lower part of our face. Indeed, along with our eyes, the mouth is an essential component of human emotional expression, especially for dogs who react to the visibility of our teeth. A recent article from the American website Mental Floss suggests that this behavior is synonymous with empathy. Your dog finally manages to decipher your signals, to understand you! When you cuddle or praise him, your dog will understand you are happy with him. If You scold him for something he just did, he will also tilt his head to the side because he can decode your body language and tone of voice. According to Dr. Meredith Stepita, an American veterinarian, certain words or a particular intonation will play in this tilt of the head. Asked by the Huffington Post US in 2013, she explained: "The dogs do that when they think the sentence they hear will lead them to something important to them, an activity that they enjoy, for example. Tilt your head when you tell them you will take them for a walk or when you start to take out their toys. In conclusion : If your dog tilts his head very often, he shows great empathy. They try to understand you and communicate.


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