Head tilts in dogs: What do they tell us?

by | Jul 6, 2020 | Recruitment, Research | 0 comments

Update 10.08.2020: Data aquisition for this project has finished. Thanks to everybody for the interest in the research and potential participation. We will share the results on the projects page (see link at bottom of this page) as soon as possible.
Most people have observed dog’s tilting their head to either the left or right, yet we know very little about why our pets express these head tilts, what they are responding too, or what other factors influence the direction of the head tilts we find so endearing.
This project seeks to examine the left-right direction and strength of dog head tilts in response to different types of auditory stimuli with a positive, neutral, or negative emotional context, like another dog barking or a cat meowing. In addition, we aim to identify the impact different “personality traits”, such as impulsivity, anxiousness or excitability, may have on an individual’s head-tilt response.

The project is two-fold and consist of a survey and an experimental part that dog owners conduct with their dogs at home.

In the first of this two part study we will first be evaluating dogs’ personal temperament, demographics, and behavioural history. This will take 20-30 minutes to complete. Qualifying participants will then be asked to participate in the experimental portion of the study. During this second part, they will be asked to play 15 different audio tracks and record their dog’s reaction using clearly outlined experimental instructions. This will be done from within their home and will last an estimated 2 hours, however active data acquisition and recording will only take about 10 minutes as significant break times for the dog are included between each audio track.


Our goal is to help clarify the function of our dog’s head tilts, increasing our understanding of how our pets see the world and what they may be trying to communicate to us. Your participation is valuable whether or not participating dogs tilts their head.

If you would like to help us out, please complete the questionnaire below! You must be over 18 years of age and currently own a dog between 1 and 10 years old.




For more info and an overview of other head tilt projects please see