Most likely, you are familiar with one of the most touching dog gestures: when the dog, hearing the owner’s voice, and sometimes just an extraneous sound, tilts its head to one side. So, zoopsychologists undertook to solve the question: what does this gesture of a pet, which is attractive to itself, but at the same time still unsolved, mean? We bring to your attention several hypotheses that seek to bring us closer to understanding the inner world of man’s best friend.
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Expression of sympathy?
The gesture that interests us is inherent not only in dogs, but also in humans. There is no point in proving this, it is enough to remember situations when a person is trying to express sympathy to his interlocutor – often in such cases he tilts his head to one side. In other words, this gesture is one of the many and often elusive components of non-verbal communication. Some psychologists suggest that such movements are in a way universal. But the meaning of this gesture in dogs cannot be identical to that in humans – after all, we will not argue that pets reflexively express sympathy at certain sounds, and not necessarily from a person.
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A more plausible, but equally proven hypothesis is that the animal tilts its head to one side when it listens carefully to the sounds that occupy it. The dog, scientists explain, reflexively positions its ears asymmetrically, which allows it to receive more accurate information about the source of the sound. By listening in this way, the pet is also able to recognize the intonation with which the owner addresses it.
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Expression of interest
According to the following hypothesis, the asymmetric arrangement of body parts, be it ears, eyes (for example, if one of them is slightly covered) or paws, indicates that the dog is not indifferent to what is happening. It turns out that the dog, tilting its head, signals its interest and readiness to act.
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Features of anatomy
It is also believed that an elongated muzzle in dogs affects the features of their vision. Therefore, when an animal needs to examine something in detail, it tilts its head to one side.
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The last hypothesis sounds like this: it is not known what motives the dog is guided by when performing the same gesture, but the reaction of a person to it is known. The owners, looking at the touching pose of the animal, are in a hurry to stroke it, praise and treat it with something tasty. The pet, in turn, learns the chain of events “head tilt – reward” and uses it in the future to its advantage.