Dogs

Study Shows That Your Dog’s Head Tilt May Give Clues About Their Cognitive Ability

(Picture Credit: Rebecca Nelson/Getty Images)

According to a study posted in Animal Cognition, scientists have determined that your dog’s head tilt may link to how they process memory.

From a previous study relating to how dogs learn words, scientists stumbled across a link to that adorable head tilt we all know and love.

Study author, Andrea Sommese, an animal science researcher at the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, states that the behavior directly ties to human verbal vocalization. Here’s what researchers found.

How Your Dog’s Head Tilt Ties To Their Memory

To explore further, the researchers analyzed the pattern of head tilting comparatively between “gifted” dogs and more “typical” ones. All of the gifted dogs from this study were Border Collies, as previously reported here on DogTime.

Researchers then determined that gifted dogs tilted their heads when a human verbalized the name of a toy they knew. The same result occurred from commands they were well-versed in.

This prompted the researchers to hypothesize that a dog’s head tilt implies a deeper level of “paying attention.”

They even went so far as to say that it may trigger a visual image in the pup’s head that they’re curiously observing.

Even the tilt direction, Alexis Nedd reported in an earlier study via Mashable, plays into a dog’s cognitive behavior. Most commonly, a dog tilts their head to the right. That’s the side of the brain that processes positive words and praise.

Where This Hypothesis Could Lead

young german shepherd sitting on grass in park and looking with attention at camera, tilting head

(Picture Credit: diego_cervo/Getty Images)

Smithsonian Magazine cited Monique Udell, a human-animal interaction researcher at Oregon State University, on what a dog’s head tilt could really mean.

To Rachel Fritts of Science, Udell ventured the question, “Can we use head tilting to predict word-learning aptitude, or attention, or memory?” Asking these kinds of questions will dig scientists deeper into a dog’s cognitive behavior, reasoning, and decision-making.

All of the study authors, per Smithsonian, agree that this research is just getting started. However, it appears that for now, we can all interpret our dog’s head tilt as a sign of deeper understanding.

If you’d like to learn more about why your dog tilts their head then check out DogTime’s full article on the subject here!

When have you seen your dog tilting their head? What do you think it means? Let us know in the comments below.

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