Why Does My Dog Cock His Head?

A dog probably does this to better localize the source of the sound by using a process known as triangulation. In this respect, the dog’s ears function as stereo receivers. By altering their position with respect to the sound-source, its location can be more accurately pinpointed.

When the dog hears a sound, his brain calculates the delay between the time the sound reaches the ear nearest the sound and when it reaches the ear furthest from it. This difference can be translated to estimate the distance at which the sound source is located. A dog’s brain can compute the time difference of the sound’s arrival at each ear independently, thus negating the need for the knowledge of such excruciating facts as the speed of sound or the time the sound takes to travel, and application of the formula distance = speed x time.

We humans also cock our heads when we want to listen hard, presumably for the same reason. We also need no knowledge of the various physical parameters to make our assessment of the sound’s origin. We get a little more fanciful when estimating the distance of an approaching thunderstorm by counting the seconds between the flash of lightning and the clap of thunder, but that’s only because someone once worked out the speed of sound and the requisite calculation.

So now that we understand it, let's remind ourselves how cute it is by watching these dogs:

 

 

Why does my dog do that?

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