New Study Takes a Deeper Look at Why Dogs Tilt Their Heads
More than just an adorable gesture, dog head tilts are related to how man’s best friend is “processing relevant, meaningful stimuli.”
According to research, dogs tilt their heads in reaction to auditory stimuli that spark memories, like the names of their favorite toys.
The program involved 40 canine participants, some of whom have been deemed gifted word learners (GWL) dogs, or dogs that can learn an object’s assigned label after a few exposures. Not all dogs have the capacity to recall object labels, and this is what separates GWL dogs from most canines.
During the program, GWL and regular canines were taught the names of two toys. The researchers proposed that GWL dogs, with their advanced capability to recall names, would tilt their heads more often compared to the other canines that also took part in the study.
The researchers were proven correct, as GWL dogs tilted their heads at a rate of 43% compared to other canines who did so at a rate of 2%.
While this is an exciting development, researchers insist more studies need to be done about head tilting. Previously, it’s been supposed that dogs tilt their heads to improve their hearing capability or see beyond their snouts.
The three-month exploratory analysis on head-tilting was carried out by researchers from Eötvös Loránd University in Hungary and published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Animal Cognition. The study is the first of its kind, according to USA Today, as there are no historical accounts of any other research that focuses on canine head-tilting.
Teaching New Tricks to Dogs
Most canine companions are not able to recognize labels after a few repetitions, but this doesn’t mean that they can’t pick up new tricks or have preferences when it comes to toys. With regular practice, patience, and the aid of tools like custom dog collars or visually appealing custom plush toys, canine companions can learn new tricks and participate in a wide variety of activities, both structured and unstructured.