Why Do Dogs Pin their Ears Back?

Why Do Dogs Pin their Ears Back

Last Updated on November 24, 2023 by Fumipets

Decoding Canine Communication: Why Do Dogs Pin Their Ears Back?


Dogs communicate not only through barks and body language but also through subtle cues like ear positioning. This summary explores the common behavior of dogs pinning their ears back, unraveling the reasons behind this gesture through a series of questions and answers.

Why Do Dogs Pin Their Ears Back?

Understanding our dog’s behaviour enables us to decipher the messages they are attempting to convey to us. By enabling us to respond to their activities more properly in light of this information, it protects both ourselves and our pets. What causes dogs to pin their ears back? Is there a purpose or is it merely practicality? Here are the opinions of veterinarians.

Expressive Ears: What They Mean

Miniature pischer Pin their Ears Back

Dogs can convey a broad range of emotions via their ears. The location of your dog’s ears may provide you with important information about their psychology. Dogs’ ears serve as an essential means of communication. Therefore, it is your duty as a dog owner to understand what your dog is trying to tell you.

Consider the location of the ear base if you have a dog with floppy ears. All dogs’ positions are determined by the base of the ear, although erect ears make the posture more obvious. Dogs with floppy ears do wiggle their ears, although placement is often more noticeable at the base of the ear.

3 Types of Typical Ear Positioning

When a dog seems at ease in its environment, it often stands relaxed and to the side. The ear’s base should be relaxed and not lean in any way. Any stiffness around the base of the ears might be a sign of mood.

READ:  Cavapoo: Unveiling the Adorable Cavapoo Dog Breed

1. Ears Back and Relaxed

Golden retriever_sasastock_shutterstock

Generally speaking, a dog is content when its ears are relaxed yet pinned back. When the dog is receiving head pats or offering kisses, this ear posture is often seen. There is no need to be concerned about your dog’s temperament if the ears are relaxed.

2. Ears Back and Tensed

Scared dog lying on the floor

Dogs that pin their ears back or flatten them against their heads may be expressing submissiveness, anxiety, or fear. Dogs defend themselves by flattening their ears, and the more tightly they are pulled back against their heads, the more terrified they are.

It’s a good idea to start figuring out what cues lead your dog to pin their ears back. When a dog is scared or protective, they may behave aggressively to attempt to defend themselves. Are they wary about meeting new people? Do they become anxious around other dogs?

Start taking your dog for walks in more remote locations where they won’t feel threatened or frightened if they are uneasy about other people and animals. Although you may gradually expose stimuli in secure areas, you want your dog to feel secure and at ease during activities like walks and playing.

3. Ears Tensed and Forward

It’s not good when your dog’s ears go from being pulled and back to being tightened and back. The dog is prepared to respond to certain stimulus after its ears have moved forward and tightened.

The dog is likely feeling alert if they are suddenly in this posture after being comfy before. They may have seen a cat or a squirrel and are getting ready to pursue it. Your dog is ready to put distance between themselves and anything they perceive to be threatening them if they shift from pinning their ears back to a forward yet tense attitude, however.

Reading your dog’s body language is crucial to preventing aggressive reactions from them in response to imagined threats. Before your dog reacts, try to get rid of anything that threatens them by keeping an eye out for that flattened ear posture. Don’t allow that position to change from flattened to alert.

READ:  Akita Dog Breed: The Complete Info Guide

2 Other Indicators of Dog Moods

1. The Tail

dog tail

Another great sign of your dog’s temperament is the tail. While an enthusiastic and animated wagging may suggest excitement, a relaxing swaying may show contentment. Contrary to common assumption, a wagging tail doesn’t always indicate contentment. A dog’s tail is just an indication that it is willing and prepared to communicate, even if that interaction is not always amicable.

The tail of a joyful dog will wag in a broad, sweeping arc. The tail will be kept at a relaxed height and let to wag in little circles. If the dog is inquisitive or interested in anything, such as a toy or a reward, the tail may be raised higher.

Your dog is attentive, focused, and prepared to respond when they raise their tail high and straight. Pay attention to the situation since this something may be a person they feel intimidated by or a squirrel to pursue.

Your dog may be showing signs of relaxation if they hold their tail low. However, pay attention to their other nonverbal cues. When the dog’s ears are also pushed back, it often means that it is scared. They could hide their tail between their legs and up against their tummy if they’re afraid.

2. The Face

Chihuahua with a snarling face

Dogs’ facial expressions may be used to gauge how they are feeling. Although maybe unintentionally, as humans tamed dogs, they also changed the facial shape from the wolves in their ancestors. Dogs can make over 100 distinct facial expressions, at least in part because their facial muscles are more advanced and sophisticated than wolves’.

The whale eye is one of the most well-known dog facial expressions, in which the dog gives you a quick look while keeping their head still and showing the whites of their eyes. This look on the face is linked to tension and worry. Dogs that give the whale eye should be avoided because they might snap or bite.

When a dog is worried, their eyes may dart all over the place as they give you the whale eye, scanning the area for any additional potentially dangerous stimuli. They may be staring at you with dilated, black pupils. As they purse their lips into a snarl, they could tense the muscles in their mouth, making their whiskers and whisker beds more noticeable. They could also exhibit their teeth.

READ:  Keeping Dogs Safe From Fleas In Brooklyn

However, flashing your teeth is not always a bad thing. When greeting, dogs sometimes seem to grin. This face, which is often a “submissive smile,” shows that the dog is at ease in your company.

As with any other kind of body language, it’s crucial to consider the context of your dog’s actions and emotions. For instance, heavy panting is typical after activity, but if your dog is panting excessively at other times, it might be an indication of stress.


It may seem difficult to decipher your dog’s body language, but the rewards are priceless for any dog owner. For the sake of both your dog’s welfare and the protection of others around it, you must understand what your dog is attempting to tell you. It may be a lifesaver for your dog and help keep them happy and calm in unfamiliar circumstances to keep a watchful look out for symptoms of fear or hostility.

Frequently Asked Questions



What Does it Mean When a Dog Pins Its Ears Back?

When a dog pins its ears back against its head, it often signifies submission, fear, or anxiety. This adjustment in ear position is a non-verbal signal that the dog may be feeling uneasy or trying to convey a submissive posture.


Are Pinned Back Ears Always a Sign of Fear or Submission?

While pinned back ears can indicate fear or submission, they may also signal pain, discomfort, or illness. It’s essential to consider the overall body language and context to accurately interpret why a dog is pinning its ears back.


Can Dogs Pin Their Ears Back in Aggression?

Interestingly, some dogs may pin their ears back in an aggressive context. This can indicate that the dog is preparing for a confrontation and is trying to streamline its head for increased agility. Again, understanding the full context is crucial for accurate interpretation.


How Should Owners Respond to Dogs with Pinned Back Ears?

Owners should approach a dog with pinned back ears cautiously, especially if the behavior is unfamiliar. It’s essential to assess the overall body language, avoid sudden movements, and create a calm environment. Offering reassurance and allowing the dog to come to the owner willingly can help alleviate anxiety.


Can Training Help Modify Ear-Related Behaviors in Dogs?

Yes, training can play a significant role in modifying a dog’s behavior, including ear-related gestures. Positive reinforcement techniques, socialization, and providing a secure environment can help build a dog’s confidence, reducing the frequency of anxious or submissive ear positions.

Understanding why dogs pin their ears back provides valuable insights into their emotional states. Owners who are attentive to these subtle cues can foster a stronger bond with their canine companions by responding appropriately to their needs and emotions.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here