Why Do Dogs Put Their Ears Back?


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  1. Why does my dog put his ears back when I pet him?
  2. Contentment
  3. Fear/nervousness
  4. Warning
  5. Illness/Injury
  6. Listening
  7. Enjoy The Video Tutorial about Dogs Language Explained: How to Understand Your Dog Better

Why does my dog put his ears back when I pet him?

Reading your dog's behavioral cues or body language can sometimes be quite intuitive. Most owners know what a play bow looks like or recognize that a dog with its tail tucked between its legs is scared or uncomfortable.

However, some of your dog's body language may be more difficult to interpret. The position of your dog's ears can change based on his emotions.

Your dog may put his ears back for a variety of reasons.

It is important to remember to observe your dog's body language as a whole. Things like looking at what his eyes are doing, if his facial muscles are tense or relaxed, and where is your dog's center of gravity (if he's leaning out, crouching, or hunched, etc.).

This is especially true. for dogs with long, hanging ears, such as Bloodhounds, as they obviously cannot move them flat against their head.

By looking at other signals your dog is giving along with his ear position, it can be easier to determine what your dog is trying to tell you.

With that said, here are some reasons why your dog may put his ears back.


Some dogs' ears are not naturally pointed, so when they are relaxed, it makes sense for them to relax in their natural position.

If your dog's ears are back but not glued to his skull, it may be because he is happy.

Another body language that you can see if your dog is relaxed is a 'soft' face (so no frowning or lip curling), a loose, relaxed posture, and his tail will be low but relaxed and not bent in between his legs.


Possibly one of the most well-understood meanings behind a dog that puts its ears back is a sign that they are afraid or at least distrustful of something.

This can be especially true if you see this sign along with other 'scary' body language.

A fearful or anxious dog may also be yawning and licking his lips, avoiding eye contact (this could be simply not looking at you with his eyes or turning his face completely away from you), having his eyes so enlarged that you can see a sliver of him whites of the eyes (called 'whale eye'), keeping the tail down and close to the body, crouching down and/or placing their body away from whatever is making them nervous.


A dog that has its ears turned back, especially if they are pinned back, can be a sign that a dog is about to bite. This will often coincide with fearful body language.

Other signs that a dog is being pushed to bite can also include growling, growling, and curling of the lips, giving harsh looks, bristling hair, and even lashing out.

Most dogs that bite do so from defensive versus offensive aggression. They feel the need to protect themselves.

While this can be daunting, disturbing, and stressful to watch, it is important to never punish your dog for growling or growling.

By scolding a dog for giving a warning about their feeling of fear or discomfort, they learn that those warning behaviors get them in trouble.

They may not give any warning before biting next time, and you are not figuring out why they are displaying these behaviors in the first place.

Rather than punishing the growl, you should seek to find out what is causing your dog to feel this way.

For example, if they are crowded with new people, they should be given more space.

Then you can work to help them become more comfortable with strangers with positive reinforcement training.


In some rare cases, a dog with a particularly unpleasant case of an ear infection may be holding his ears because they hurt.

By retaining them, you may be protecting them from further injury.

Your dog's ears are incredibly vascular and if they scratch or shake their itchy ear too hard they can burst a blood vessel within the pinna (the ear).

When this happens, the pinna will fill with blood, giving it a puffy and padded appearance. In fact, auditory bruises are sometimes called pillow ears because of this.

Unfortunately, this requires veterinary medical attention to first drain the pinna of accumulated blood and then to treat the ear infection that caused it.

Treating the ear infection and exercising if there is an underlying cause is important to prevent further problems or recurrences.


Sometimes a dog may tilt his ears back just to better hear something going on behind him. You may notice this if you are in the garden with your dog and another family member calls from inside the house.

Certain behavioral signs canine can be quite straightforward to understand. Others, like the placement of the ears, may be more nuanced.

Sure, a fearful dog will throw their ears back, but not all dogs that put their ears back are in fact fearful. If you would like more information on how to decode your dog's body language, speak with a qualified canine behavior specialist.

Enjoy The Video Tutorial about Dogs Language Explained: How to Understand Your Dog Better

Source: Jaw-Dropping Facts

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