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Scientists Discover Reason Dogs Tilt Their Heads At You

Dominic Smithers


Scientists Discover Reason Dogs Tilt Their Heads At You

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Scientists have discovered the reason why dogs cock their heads when they look at you.

While most of us probably thought it meant they were confused when they tilted their head, it's anything but.

In a ground-barking study, researchers in Hungary analysed dozens of pet pooches, looking at how they reacted to their owners when they tried to teach them names for different toys.

According to the study, which was carried out at Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest, they found a correlation between the occurrence of the head movement and the vocal commands being given by the owners.

They also hypothesised that the breeds of dog that were better at learning new names were also those that tilted their heads more often, and that it was a sign they were listening intently to the owner's voice.

Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

And they were correct, with 'gifted learners' among the 40 dogs cocking their heads 43 percent of the time during the task.

Conversely, other breeds that weren't particularly adept only tilted their heads two percent of the time.

Therefore, when a dog cocks its head, it's just means they're trying to listen carefully to what is being said.

However, more research needs to be done on the topic, they say, with researchers stating that movement of the had could also be linked to the dog visualising an image.

Why they tilt their heads in certain directions is also an area that needs more research.

Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

Discussing the study, which was published in Animal Cognition, a researcher 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.

"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."

In other dog-related content, you will no doubt be aware that it's 5 November, meaning lots of us will be heading out to a fireworks display to commemorate the death of Guy Fawkes for his part in the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.

But while you're burning an effigy of the traitor, you might want to spare a thought for your pets.

Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

Dog owners could face a hefty fine if you set off fireworks that cause 'unnecessary animal suffering', it has been revealed.

If people are found to be putting animals in harm's way as a result of their celebrations, they could be ordered to pay thousands of pounds and could even be sent to prison.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) has advised pet owners to make sure their animals are safe and secure, and away from any loud noises.

According to the law, it is illegal to cause 'unnecessary suffering to an animal'.

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

Topics: Science, Study, Research, Dogs

Dominic Smithers
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