4 min read


Why Do Dogs Move Their Heads Side To Side



4 min read


Why Do Dogs Move Their Heads Side To Side




You are enjoying your time, hanging out with your friends and your family in the living room. Your Golden Retriever is sitting on her bed, relaxing. You all are laughing and making jokes, making the most out of your Friday evening. Soon enough, you begin to speak in a normal tone and your dog perks up. She looks at you and begins to tilt her head to the side from its normal position. It is as if you did something intriguing to her and she has never seen this action in her life. To you, this seems odd, but to your dog, this may just be a part of her nature. 

The Root of the Behavior

If there is anything you can credit your dog for knowing, it would be you. As their owner, you have become your dog’s leader and they watch you, listen to you, and honor you throughout their life. Due to this, they not only have impeccable knowledge of who you are to them, but they also have analyzed your features, emotions, and likings throughout their life. Canines are also very empathetic creatures. They can watch and interpret our facial gestures, our body movements, and even understand the patterns of our speech. If you ever thought your dog was unaware of you at any point, that is definitely a misconception. If your voice is high, your dog will know you are speaking love to them and if it is quiet or loud, they may know you are upset or angry. It may be why your dog exactly knows when you are feeding them, taking them for a walk, or about to play with them. They truly understand your body movements, gestures, and how you go about your life. When your dog tilts their head, it is a response to you. It is a response of empathy. It may be because what you are doing or saying is unfamiliar and new. It may also be because they are trying to simply figure you out at that moment because of your newness to them. The tilt may be for their ears. Your dog may be trying to adjust their pinnae, which is the outer ear. They may also be doing it to get a different and better view of you. The head tilt can be equivalent to you trying to put your glasses on to see better or turning up the television to hear your show better. Your dog is doing the same thing. They are quite good at reading you and knowing you and the head tilt is simply to know you better. 

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Encouraging the Behavior

The head tilt is a completely normal behavior that your dog is displaying. Your dog is simply trying to understand you and figure out whatever it is they are seeing. If something is unfamiliar, you may do something similar. Whether that is moving closer or using your words to get clarification. With dogs, it is no different. Therefore, if your dog is constantly doing the head tilt, it may be because they are trying to get a better knowing and understanding of you or of what is in front of them. You should allow your dog to tilt their head. It is part of their nature to be empathetic creatures and it is how they know you better. If your dog is tilting their head quite often and it does not seem to be a trait of trying to understand something once in a while, you may want to check with your veterinarian. Most likely, there is not a health concern and your dog may just be analyzing and being as they are, but if you feel it may be important to check with your veterinarian to make sure everything is okay, there is no harm in that. Yet, allow your dog to tilt their head. It is a part of their natural state. 

Other Solutions and Considerations

If you feel like your dog is tilting their head consistently, it may be best to try and adjust your life for them so they may understand what they are experiencing better. This could simply mean repeating what you said or mimicking the body movement again so they can interpret it clearly. Most times, your dog is tilting their head to see better or even hear better because what they are perceiving is completely unfamiliar or unclear. If you adjust your dog to the behavior they are seeing, they may not need to tilt their head as often. Helping your dog understand their perception can help make your life and their life a lot easier; yet, a few head tilts won’t hurt anyone. 


Canines go through their life wanting to experience the best life they can have. As dog owners, it is our job to help them have that. Sometimes, helping your dog understand and interpret something can make your relationship with them grow and their relationship with life can grow even stronger. Yet, there’s no harm in a few head tilts as long as your dog understands what they are experiencing. 

By a Golden Retriever lover Erika Seidel

Published: 02/26/2018, edited: 01/30/2020

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