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Why Do Dogs Put Their Ears Back? (And What It Means)

Why Do Dogs Put Their Ears Back? (And What It Means)

A common question for animal behaviorists is “Why do dogs put their ears back?” This can be difficult to answer since there are many reasons why this might happen.


It might be because the dog is not comfortable with something or someone, which can indicate fear. The ear posture may also show flattened aggression, where the dog becomes defensive of his territory.


However, it could also mean that the dog is unsure of what you are asking him to do. If your dog has his ears pinned back, then there may be a good chance he is feeling overwhelmed or stressed by the current situation.


Ears can also be used as an indicator of stress or fear. When a dog is scared or anxious, it may pull its ears back against its head and cower away from what it perceives as a threat.


Whatever the reason, dogs' ears will move around and change position depending on what they're feeling or doing. They might even twitch or lay flat if they're really relaxed. Here, are some tips on how to interpret your pup’s ear movements and body language.

Section 1: What Does It Mean When a Dog Puts His Ears Back?

Section 2: What Are Some of the Causes of Dogs Putting Their Ears Back?

Section 3: How Can You Tell If Your Dog Is Happy or Uncomfortable?

Section 4: When Your Dog Is Confused, What Do You Mean?

Section 5: What Are Some Ways to Help Your Dog Feel More Comfortable in Certain Situations?

Section 6: Conclusion

What Does It Mean When a Dog Puts His Ears Back?


If you notice that your dog has his ears flat back against his head, your dog is feeling something and it could indicate that he’s feeling insecure, nervous, or angry.


For example, if you're walking down the street and your dog starts to pull away, it could be a sign that he’s not comfortable in the situation.


This is what it’s like when your dog puts his ears flat back. You can also notice that he’s doing this more often when he’s feeling nervous and excited.


It’s also worth noting that when your dog’s ears are down and slightly tilted back, that usually means that he’s feeling submissive.


The underside of the ear shows dominance, if the ears are perked up, then that can signal an aggressive or threatening body posture.


What Are Some of the Causes of Dogs Putting Their Ears Back?


From some of the possible reasons for dogs pulling their ears back, a big source of stress for dogs is situations when they're not sure what's expected from them.


Dogs are mostly animals that need clear, step-by-step instructions on how to do something.


An easy example is “sit” or “drop it.” Dogs know how to perform these simple tasks, but are sometimes confused when they're asked to do them by a new person or a new situation.


For example, a fearful dog may avoid what he perceives as a threat in a different context.


In this case, if your dog’s ears are down, then you can often tell if it’s not doing what it’s supposed to be doing because the dog’s ears are facing down.


How Can You Tell If Your Dog Is Happy or Uncomfortable?


If your dog looks comfortable, then he's probably relaxed. His ears are up, not back and his body is relaxed. He's likely enjoying the moment or whatever he's doing.


However, if your dog looks stressed or anxious, then he may be uncomfortable. His ears will be back and the body may be tight.


This is when he may start pulling on his leash, whining or he may be moving around too much.


When Your Dog Is Confused, What Do You Mean?


If you're unsure what your dog is feeling, then ask him. Start by circling him, looking into his eyes, and then just looking at him to see if he is comfortable or not.


If he is relaxed, then he'll give you a happy look. He'll make eye contact with you and appear relaxed.


If he is uncomfortable, he may just give you a neutral look, or he may look away.


What Are Some Ways to Help Your Dog Feel More Comfortable in Certain Situations?


Dogs’ ears usually start out tucked under and will often be very relaxed or close to the head.


Most dogs will keep their ears either pointed down or up at chest height, and ears will move naturally to where they are most comfortable.


The dog might also hold them up in the air to watch a predator.


There are times when you should keep your dog’s ears pulled back to keep it from being distracted or more attentive to you.


This can help give the dog some independence and control, and it can be a way for the dog to work on guarding their space.


However, if the ears get pulled too far back, then you may start to hear things such as the dog's stomach growling or barking or feel things touching the ears when you put your hand there.




The ears of a dog are almost always forward, even when the dog is relaxed or not focused on you.


However, this doesn’t necessarily mean your dog is being hostile. He is just not used to having his ears pinned back while he’s excited, and he’s not sure what he should or shouldn’t do with them.


In order to understand your dog better, you have to pay attention to what he’s doing and listening for while he’s alert.


In some cases, he will lift his ears back and away, only to allow his ears to come forward again.


The ears will go back and forth depending on what your dog is feeling or what is happening around him.


For example, a dog that is excited, without being too loud or being overstimulated, may put his ears back.


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