We all understand that gesture of dogs when they bow their heads: they are listening to us, we know they are paying attention to us and we communicate with them, but why do they do it?
How do they hear the sounds?
The structure of the ear in dogs, cats and other mammals is very similar to ours; It is divided into outer, middle and inner ear. The ear canal begins in the ear and ends in the eardrum in the inner ear. The mechanism by which they perceive sounds is practically the same.
The sound reaches the eardrum, which vibrates and send these vibrations to the ossicles chain of the middle ear (hammer, anvil and stirrup). These small bones amplify the vibrations and send them to the cochlea in the inner ear.
The cells inside the cochlea send these signals to the auditory nerve, which sends the information to the brain in the form of an electrical signal. The brain receives it and “transforms” it into sounds that we can recognize and understand.
The ear in dogs
Although all this works very similarly in humans and the rest of mammals, there are certain differences between the ears of dogs and humans:
- The disposition of the ear is different. As you can see in the picture, the ear in dogs is down: it is deeper than ours, which is why you can’t use sticks to clean the animal’s ear.
- His ears act like a radar. Dogs’ ears are much larger and can move in all directions thanks to their more than 20 muscles; This way, they can filter the sound.
- They perceive higher frequency sounds. The canine hearing range is between 67-45,000 Hz. Dogs can detect a faint sound at a distance between four and five times greater than a human being. This explains why a dog may react unexpectedly to something we don’t hear.
Dogs bow their heads to understand us better
Although they don’t understand the meaning of our language, There are certain characteristics in our voice that give dogs clues about what we mean. The dogs are able to recognize their name, relate certain words, differentiate tones of voice and read our emotions.
In fact, according to Stanley Coren’s studies, a trained dog is able to recognize up to 160 different words; and have the intelligence equivalent to a three year old.
There are several theories that explain why dogs bow their heads when we talk to them, but they all reach the same conclusion. With this gesture they try to understand us better.
- They see us better. Dogs have their eyes straight ahead, like other predators and their snout is in the middle; if they tilt or bow their heads, they can better see the expression of our face and body language, and thus put into context the message we are transmitting.
- They listen to us better. In the same way, tilting the head redirects your ear to the source of the sound.
- Strengthens communication between person and dog. With this gesture we know that the dog is paying attention to us and, unconsciously, we reward him for it, because after this message there may be some positive activity for the animal, such as a moment of attention, food, petting, walking … so the dog will continue Repeating this gesture.
For whatever reason, what is clear is that Communication between animals and people is possible without having a common language. Therefore, it is so important to know how to communicate with our pet in order to provide an education and have a good coexistence inside and outside the home.
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