Don’t you just love science? We get to learn more and more about our fur babies and how they communicate – and this study is bringing something new…
Turns out, if your dog tilts their head when you talk, it might be more than just a cute gesture – they might be thinking of their favourite things! Researchers at Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest, Hungary have tested a theory that a dog’s adorable head tilt could be linked to their ability to process the names of objects.
As per the study, research suggests that ‘only a few dogs can learn the name of objects (toys) even after a few exposures, while most (typical) dogs do not’.
They hypothesized that ‘head-tilting is related to processing meaningful or relevant auditory stimuli’ and that dogs who were able to associate the name of a word with an object, like their favourite toy, would tilt their heads more often than dogs who weren’t able to associate a word with an object.
Forty pups participated in the study, though they were mostly border collies. Over a course of three months, the canines learned the names of two toys.
Dogs who could rapidly learn object names after a few tries were labelled by scientists as ‘gifted world learner’ dogs.
Indeed, their hypothesis was accurate… After trying to teach dogs the names of two toys, researchers concluded that GWL dogs tilted their heads at a rate of 43%, as opposed to typical dogs who tilted their heads 2% of the time.
According to the report, the ‘difference in the dogs’ behaviour might be related to hearing meaningful words (for the GWL dogs) and could be a sign of increased attention.’ It could also indicate increased memory.
However, scientists agree with the need to expand the study to other breeds.