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Why do dogs tilt their head in response to human’s voice or some strange noise?
It is a phenomenon that has long fascinated dog lovers. In England back in the 1880s, for instance, after fox terrier named Nipper’s human passed away, the dog was adopted by artist Francois Barraud. As Sharon Lynn Vanderlip recounts in her book, Fox Terriers: A Complete Owner’s Manual, Barraud noticed Nipper’s behavior of sitting right in front of his phonograph and tilting his head reacting to the sounds.
The explanations of the head tilt in dog behavioral texts appear to differ.
In Alexandra Horowitz’s book Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know, head-tilting is described basically as an attempt by dogs to adapt their pinnae, or outer ears, to concentrate on the exact location of sounds. That’s some thing at which they are in fact not as effective as humans, regardless of their capability to hear frequencies that we cannot detect.
On the flip side, Steven R. Lindsay’s Handbook of Applied Dog Behavior and Training views the head tilt like a mixture of physiological reaction and communication signs, which makes a little more sense. Whenever a dog is hearing your voice, Lindsay writes, he or she is seeking to recognize familiar words and intonations that the dog has figured out to connect with some action (like going for a walk or getting a treat).
The muscles of the middle ear, which your dog utilizes to comprehend such nuances of sound, are managed by the nucleus ambiguus, a part of the brain stem that likewise regulates facial expressions and head movements that are a element of canine communication. Neural control of the middle ear, he notes, works in synergy with facial expression, gaze, and vocalization.
Lindsay as well notes that “socially apprehensive” canines usually do not demonstrate the head-tilt behavior.