Scientists Have Revealed Why Dogs Tilt Their Heads At You | TOTUM
Ben HaywardNovember 5th
2021

A ground-breaking new study has revealed the reason dogs often tilt  their heads to one side when they look at you.

A team of researchers at the Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest, Hungary, analysed the behaviour of dozens of pet dogs, examining how the animals reacted to their owners when they tried to teach them names for different toys.

The team found that there was a correlation between the occurrence of the head tilt and the commands being given by the owners.

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This led the researchers to hypothesise that the breeds of dog that were better at learning new names were also the ones that tilted their heads more often and that it was a sign they were listening intently to their owner's voice.

And it turned out their hypothesis was right - further analysis revealed that the most 'gifted learners' among the 40 dogs, cocked their heads 43% of the time during the task, as opposed to the breeds that were less adept who only tilted their heads 2% of the time.

As a result of the experiment, the team believe that when a dog cocks its head, they're trying to listen more carefully to what is being said to them, however they insist that more research is required and that there is still a theory that the head movement could be linked to the dog visualising an image.

Discussing the study, which was published in Animal Cognition, one of the researchers said: "Often owners observe dogs tilting their heads and we still do not have a full understanding of the function and circumstances in which this behaviour happens.

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"This study is the first step in this direction showing how this behaviour could be related to the presence of meaningful and salient auditory stimuli for the dog.”

With bonfire night happening this weekend, it’s worth noting that the government has recently confirmed that people found to be causing 'unnecessary animal suffering’ with their firework display could find themselves facing a hefty fine, or even prison.  

Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, people found to have done so can be hit with an unlimited fine and/or sentenced to five years in prison.

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And the law does not just affect pet owners, but also those who caused harm having 'known' or had 'ought to have known' that their actions would do so.

Speaking to Metro, a spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) confirmed the use of fireworks could be seen as causing unnecessary suffering to animals.

They said: "Users of fireworks need to use them responsibly and be aware of animals close by, and those found guilty of causing animals unnecessary suffering can face up to five years' imprisonment.”

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