Your dog’s elegant pointy ears are a great communication tool your pet uses to express its emotions. As a pet parent, it’s your responsibility to communicate the best you can with your pet, but it’s often easier said than done with some dogs. If you are having difficulty understanding what your dog is trying to tell you, the secret is in the ears.
Why do dogs put their ears back? They are trying to tell you something, and it’s important. The most common reasons are related to emotions such as sadness, fear, and nervousness. However, there are plenty of other reasons too.
Your goal as a pet parent is to learn how to read your dog’s ear signals. This ability to understand your dog will help you create a closer bond. Sometimes your dog can be showing a signal that danger is nearby or they are feeling sick or physically hurt.
The following information will help you learn the different reasons your dog puts their ears back.
Why Do Dogs Put Their Ears Back?
Reasons Why Dogs Put Their Ears Back
Are your dog’s ears tucked down towards the side of their head? This usually signals that your dog is feeling sad.
This feeling is often provoked when a loved one passes away, or someone moves out of the house for an extended period.
For example, if your dog is close to a family member who passed or moved away to attend college, they will feel sad because they miss the person.
You can help your dog cheer up by giving them plenty of attention and encouraging them to play with their toys and go for walks.
Dogs get nervous just like people do. When your dog feels nervous, they will put their ears back and show other signs related to anxiety, such as tension in the body, panting, and tongue flicks. Some dogs might only offer one sign, while others will experience all signs.
If you suspect your dog is feeling nervous or anxious, do your best to calm them down and remove them from the object, environment, or person causing the behavior.
Dogs experience fear and react to the emotion in different ways. Putting their ears back is one way to signal they are afraid. Still, it also can be combined with body language such as avoiding eye contact, lip licking, yawning, panting, lowered body posture, trembling, squinting, tail stiffness, or a lowered tail.
If you can pinpoint the trigger causing your dog fear, do your best to remove it from your dog’s environment. However, if you can’t remove the trigger, try to make your dog’s life easier by training them not to be afraid of the object or person. Socialization with the trigger often helps this situation.
When your dog senses danger, they react physically in various ways, including barking, growling, hard stares, tongue flicking, lunging, and displaying their teeth towards the dangerous person or object.
These signs combined with pinned back ears suggest your dog is trying to protect you from something or someone they consider dangerous. However, if your dog shows this behavior towards you, they consider you to be the danger.
If your dog’s ears naturally appear pinned back, it could be their resting position. This means they are content and happy with their current environment and feel safe. Usually, a content dog has their ears back but beware if they are pinned against their skull.
Male dogs do their best to pull their ears back when they are courting a female.
This obvious body language between two dogs means the male is telling the female he’s interested in her.
Dogs have a keen sense of hearing and often hear things their owners can’t. If your dog is in a content state and suddenly pushes their ears back, they are most likely listening to something.
This behavior is usually exhibited when your dog recognizes the voice or sound, such as a family member calling their name from a distance or the sound of their favorite kibble hitting their food bowl.
Injury or Illness
Ear infections are common for most dog breeds. Dogs that are suffering from an earache will often hold their ears back to prevent further pain or injury. Sometimes an injury to the ear is the cause of the pinned back ear. Dogs that itch their ears too harshly often accidentally burst blood vessels inside the ear flap.
This injury often causes blood to fill up at the damaged blood vessel’s location and creates discomfort, which your dog reacts to by pinning their ears back. In this scenario, you will most likely notice a swollen ear which is a major sign of an ear infection or injury.
As you can see, your dog uses their ears to express their emotions for various reasons. As a pet parent, who now understands the different meanings, you will better communicate with your dog.
Keep in mind that you have better control over specific situations compared to your dog. If you can remove negative triggers from your dog’s daily life, do it immediately.
As you spend more time with your dog and learn their overall body language, you will gain confidence in your ability to be an excellent pet parent. Chances are your dog will be happier too.
Remember, other body language accompanies pinned back ears for different reasons. Once you can see the combination of physical signs your dog displays, you can prevent some issues from arising. If you suspect your dog has an ear infection, ear injury, or is feeling sick, take them to the veterinarian immediately for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Communicating with your dog involves verbal queues, body language, and pinned back ears. Keep an eye on your dog as time goes forward to learn all of their little quirks and communication skills to help you live in harmony with your pet.