The reason dogs tilt their heads when we speak to them.

Image: iStock.

It’s the action that makes every dog lover’s heart explode and it turns out there’s reason behind why dogs tilt their heads when you speak to them. And no, it’s not just to exploit you for treats.

If you’ve ever claimed your dog is the best listener, you’re about to feel seriously vindicated.

According to Mental Floss, there are three main reasons for the adorable head tilt and it’s all to do with a dog’s ability to empathise with you. Yes, they really are best friend material.

1. They’re really listening to you.

The cocking of the head is a sign that your dog is really trying to listen to what you say. Dogs are actually able to recognise certain parts of the human language so will often tilt their head to listen for particular words or even inflections that will help them decode what you’re saying. Some of their favourite words?

Probably “dinner”, “play” and “walk”.

2. They’re trying to see you better.

Psychology Today reports that another likely reason for the head tilt is that they’re trying to compensate for the limited vision their muzzle gives them, which often blocks them from seeing the lower part of a person’s face. By tilting their head to the side, they get a better view which allows them to see the mouth, a key part in analysing facial expression.

So if your dog tilts their head a lot, you’ll pleased to know it means they’re especially empathetic(Post continues after gallery.)

3. They’re reading your body language.

A study published earlier this year in the Current Biology Journal found that dogs are able to differentiate between your sad and happy faces and respond accordingly.

Researchers from the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, split dogs into two groups and taught half of them happy faces and the other angry faces, but only showed them the upper or lower halves of faces. The dogs were then assessed with four tests, using different halves of the faces as well as entirely new faces they had not seen during training.

Results showed that dogs are capable of identifying happy or angry faces even in new faces they haven’t seen before, and can associate the expressions with whether they are positive or negative feelings. So yes, your dog really is concerned to see how you’re feeling.

How often does your dog tilt its head?