You might have noticed that your pet dog’s ears might go back when petting and wondering why. So why exactly do dog ears go back when petting?

Conversely, a few of your pet’s body language could be more challenging to interpret. The placement of your dog’s ears might shift depending on how they feel. A dog’s ears might be pushed back for several causes. Keep reading to find out more.

Why do dogs put their ears back when petting?

Dog ears go back when petting

Although dogs cannot communicate verbally, they do this through their body language. However, some of our assumptions about popular dog gestures, such as wagging tails, may not be accurate.

To figure out what the dog is saying, you must look at various bodily indicators such as his eyes, ears, lips, and body posture. There is specific advice to assist your clients in becoming better “listeners” to their dogs and possibly even predict and avert violent behaviour.

One of the clear indicators of a dog’s mood is its ears. Up and relaxed ears often imply a calm, peaceful, and friendly puppy. Once the dog’s ears tilt forward slightly but remain calm, it may indicate that, while still friendly, the dog is getting edgy and attuned to something in its surrounding. Itchy ears can suggest playing arousal, but they can also signal aggression, especially if the body is tense and the mouth is open, revealing the fangs.

When the dog’s ears are leaned back, it’s usually anxious or afraid, and it could be in a subservient mood. A dog with its ears pinned back may become fearful and aggressive. “Most terrified dogs will hunch their tails, lower their ears, prevent direct eye contact, and scurry down and make themselves smaller,” Appelbaum explained. “If contacted, these dogs will normally flee, and when pet parents are trying to isolate them, they will bite.”

What is your dog attempting to tell you?

The eyes could be the portal into a dog’s soul, and a thorough examination of the mouth and tail can reveal a lot about a dog’s intents and emotional state. However, a dog’s ears are much more sophisticated.

1. The following is a common rule for determining a dog’s degree of attention.

Upright ears pointing forwards indicate engagement, while modestly pulled-back ears suggest friendliness; nevertheless, dog ears pressed firmly against the head imply fear or timidity.

2. Ears down and back indicate that your dog is submissive or ready to be petted.

However, if your dog’s ears are lowered, and other body signals such as bared teeth are evident, it could indicate that they detect danger and is ready to defend himself.

3. The position of your dog’s ears can indicate various things.

Ears raised could suggest that your dog is focused on something. If your dog is asleep, but there is movement in the environment, you may notice that their ears get more upright while their body remains unchanged. They’re listening carefully to his surroundings to see if they should be concerned in this scenario.

4. Your dog is attentive if they are awake with upright ears and suddenly appear engaged, but not on something specific.

Your pet’s ears are up, upright, and inclined forward, indicating that they are excited and potentially hostile.

5. If your dog has “up” ears, one may be up and the other down.

This is merely another casual ear position, indicating that he is observing but not so intense that they are looking for something.

What signals do dog ears send?

Why Do Dog Ears Go Back When Petting Them: Dog Signs Guide

1. Anxiety

When dogs are anxious, they may put their ears backward, which is frequently paired with additional body language, including tongue flicking, panting, body stiffness, or other worry indicators.

This is a typical reaction among dogs who must travel by car but dread long drives or dogs who are intimidated by a large group of children. You may also see your dog doing this while petting them, indicating that they are not having fun.

2. Sadness

Sadness is one explanation, which commonly results in ears pushed close to the edges of the skull. When a loved person leaves, dogs may exhibit this behaviour. When he spotted some of his pup mates playing and couldn’t accompany them because he was on a leash, it could be observed that dogs put their ears down.

3. Appeasement

When a dog’s ears seem to be in their normal resting posture, it usually means they are at ease in the setting. When dogs meet, it is usual to observe one dog keep their natural ear posture, showing that they are relaxed, whereas another dog pushes their ears backward, signalling the contrary. In this case, placing the ears back could be an appealing tactic.

4. Fear

Fear can be indicated by a dog’s ears being pulled back. This is particularly true when other bodies and facial signs linked with this emotion are also present. Lower body position, dropped tail, ears back, pacing, yawning, lip-licking, averting eye contact, and attempts to cover, flee, or retreat are all signs of fear in dogs.

It’s important to remember that all dogs communicate fear differently, and some of these indications may only be displayed by particular dogs. The rigidity of the body, shaking, wrinkled brow, whale eye, frowning, dilated pupils, or drawing the edges of the lips back are signs of this condition.

5. Courting

When a man is pursuing a woman, he might push his ear back, which is one of many signs that he is attracted to her. The gesture of moving the ears around is apparent at the end of the day, but the connotation is not necessarily so.

However, humans have a hard time deciphering dogs’ emotional signal. It’s crucial to understand dog body language to accurately gauge your dog’s mood and avoid complications when dealing with them.

6. Danger

Dogs who are prepared to bite clamp their ears to their heads firmly. It’s been speculated that this is to safeguard their ears against harm by getting them out from the path of any nearby fangs. Snarling, barking, lunging, tooth exhibiting, stiffening, tongue flicking, charging, harsh glances, and other gestures indicating uneasiness or fearfulness would be paired with this as a caution indication.

Why do my dog’s ears go down when he sees me?

So, what could be the potential reasons your dog’s ears go down when he sees you? Below categorized and explained are some of the most common reasons for dogs.

1. Intimidation

It’s also possible that your dog has indeed been feeling threatened. This is much more prevalent if you have an angry body language when you observe it or if your dog only drops its ears when you have an angry body language, such as yelling or standing right over it glaring.

A frightened or nervous dog might be yawning and lip licking, averting eye contact, opening its eyes so broad that only a sliver of the whites of its eyes can be seen. It might retain its tail down to cover the body, squatting down low or posturing its head away from what’s causing them anxiety.

2. Paying attention

A dog may occasionally push its ears backward to properly hear what is going on behind them. If you’re in the yard with your dog and then another family house member greets them from within the house, you’ll observe this.

Several canine behavioural clues are relatively simple to decipher. Others, such as ear location, are more complex. While a frightened dog will retract his ears, not all canines who do so are scared. Consult a competent canine behaviourist for further advice on reading your pet’s body language.

3. Submissiveness

Your dog is most likely lowering its ears as a sign of submission. If it additionally does actions like dropping itself to the ground, rolling itself onto its back, and sticking its tongue out, this is much more probable. Dog ears are much more challenging to read and interpret, and they must generally be interpreted in combination with specific other visual cues to be effective.

4. Happiness

It is also possible that it is expressing its delight at seeing you. This is more probable if it also exhibits other joy symptoms, such as wagging its tail, licking you, or leaping at you. Once you are ready to pet a dog, they will relax their ears.

It’s also possible that when your dog drops its ears, it’s indicating that it wants to be petted. If you prefer to pet it once you initially encounter it, this is more probable.

5. Illness/Injury

When dogs are in discomfort, they may pull their ears back out of dread of being harmed more if contacted. A dog with a horrible case of ear infection may be pushing their ears backward since they are painful. They may be protecting them from any further harm by keeping them away. Your dog’s ears are highly vascular, and if they itch or move an itching ear too vigorously, a blood artery within the ear pinna may break.

The pinna fills with blood and becomes puffy and pillowy when this occurs. Because of this, aural hematomas are commonly referred to as pillow ears. Tragically, this necessitates veterinary medical treatment to remove the collected blood from the ear pinna and then cure the ear infection that caused it. To avoid significant complications or recurrence, it’s critical to treat the earache and determine if there’s an underlying reason.

5 Things to consider when your dog’s ears are pulled back

Should you be considered that your dog’s ears are pulled back? The below section addresses this question.

Why Do Dog Ears Go Back When Petting Them: Dog Signs Guide
  1. A dog’s ears pulled down flat, mainly if pushed backward, can indicate that the dog is preparing to bite. This is sometimes accompanied by terrified or hostile body language. While it’s upsetting, problematic, and distressing to see your dog growling or snarling, you should never punish him. When you punish a dog for expressing their fear or uneasiness, they understand that those warning actions bring them into trouble. This is sometimes accompanied by terrified or hostile body language. It would be best if you tried to figure out what’s making your dog feel this way.
  2. Examine what is unusual when your dog suddenly lowers its ears when it sees you if it does not always do so when it sees you. If it only does this in the mornings, it could be because it is particularly pleasing to see you in the early hours.
  3. Inform your veterinarian right away if you observe a significant shift in your dog’s body language, such as excessive breathing or droopy eyes.
  4. If your dog hasn’t always dropped its ears when it approaches you, it’s worth thinking about what else occurred since it first occurred. If your dog started behaving this way suddenly, this could be due to something as simple as a difference in how you approached it.
  5. Your frightening body language may be contributing to the problem. If your dog appears to be becoming afraid, it would be beneficial to prevent gazing at it for too long and remain calm around it.

Watch How to understand your dog better | Video

Top 5 FAQs and answers related to dog ears going back when petting

1. What can the position of your dog’s ears tell you?

The position of your dog’s ears might reveal a lot about his emotions. When a dog’s ears are pulled back towards his skull, he may be afraid, worried, or uneasy.
Perky, forward-pointing ears indicate a dog’s alertness. Perhaps he smelled something exciting or noticed some other dog in the area. If your dog’s ears are back slightly or to the side, it could indicate that they are content and peaceful.

2. What does it mean when a dog puts their ears back?

Up and loosened ears often imply a calm, peaceful, friendly puppy. When the dog’s ears are leaned back, it’s usually stressed or afraid, and it could be in a subservient mood. However, be cautious since a dog putting its ears back can become frightened and aggressive.

3. What are the symptoms of a stressed dog?

Whale eye (when dogs display the whites of their eyes), tucked ears, tucked tail, increased hackles, yawning, lip-licking, and pacing are all stress symptoms to look for. Your dog may also glance away or prevent eye contact.

4. How do dogs convey their pain?

Even when attempting to be strong, dogs experiencing pain seem to be more vocal, but this isn’t always simple to identify until a specific physical activity accompanies it.
Whimpering, whimpering, squealing, growling, barking, and even screeching are all vocal expressions of a hurt dog.

5. When I talk to my dog, why do his ears go back?

When your dog is subservient, worried, or afraid, he may pull his ears down or press them towards his head. Canines in a defensive posture have their ears closely pulled back. A dog who holds his ears in this position may become aggressive in defending himself.


Why Do Dog Ears Go Back When Petting Them: Dog Signs Guide

This article explained the possible causes of why your dog’s ears go back when petting. An introduction to how dogs communicates and what their ear postures indicate was described. Reasons why your dog’s ears go back when petting and possible considerations were listed and explained. The article concludes with a FAQ section on dog ears going back when petting.

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