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Dog Owner

Join other dog owners and get a free copy of our "Happy Dog Handbook - The Essential Guide For Dog Owners" and a daily email with carefully compiled tips, facts, and memes.

Why Do Dogs Put Their Ears Back?

When a dog puts its dog’s ears back, it’s usually because he’s feeling threatened or scared.

By doing this, the dog is trying to make himself look smaller and less threatening.

In this blog post, we will discuss the science behind why do dogs put their ears back and what it means for your furry friend!

Why Do Dogs Put Their Ears Back? – The Reasons

white brown dog looking into the camera and put his ears back


Sadness can be easily detected in dogs through dog’s body language.

One of the most common signals is when a dog puts back its ears, indicating that the animal may feel sadness or anxiety.

The gesture is usually accompanied by other behaviors, such as flattening the body and tail between the legs, slinking away, or cowering down.

Therefore, if you see your beloved pooch putting its ears back, it might be time to comfort him/her with lots of love and patience.

It could also mean that changes in its environment cause distress, so paying attention to your pup and ensuring they feel safe and secure is essential.

Paying close attention to their behavior can help you better understand their feelings.


Dogs put their ears back when they’re feeling fear or nervousness.

That is a way for them to protect themselves from potential danger.

By flattening their ears against their head, fearful dog makes it harder for enemies to detect where they are and what they’re doing.


Dog’s ears go back when anxious or scared.

That is a way for them to communicate with other dogs and humans.

Anxiety can be caused by many things, including loud noises, unfamiliar environments, and being around new people.

Anxious dogs may also whine, bark, or pace back and forth – always keep an eye on the dog’s body language to get to know other signs of anxiety.


brown dog laying in the dark put his ears back

Dogs often put their ears back when they feel threatened as a way to appease the other dog.

It is a sign of submission and usually works to prevent further conflict.

If you see a dog with its ears back, it is likely feeling threatened and using appeasement to avoid a confrontation.

If a dog in this state approaches you, it is essential to remain calm and avoid making any sudden movements.

Appeasing gestures such as speaking softly or petting the dog gently can help to calm the animal and diffuse the situation.


Dogs have a fantastic sense of danger.

They can often tell when something is wrong, and they will put their ears back to listen more carefully.

That is a sign that the dog is trying to determine what’s happening and assess the danger.

If you see your dog doing this, it’s essential to pay attention and try to figure out what might be dangerous.

You may need to take steps to protect your dog from whatever it is that’s causing them concern.

Courting You Or Another Dog

Dogs have a variety of ways of communicating with us, one way is through their ears.

They often put their ears back when they court humans or other dogs.

That signals that they are interested in the person or dog and want to communicate with them. Dogs also put their ears back when they are in danger.

That signals us to be aware that the dog is afraid or threatened. It’s essential to know how to handle a dog who is in jeopardy so that we can help them feel safe and protected.


Dogs are wise animals and can pick up on subtle environmental changes.

That often includes changes in their health. Dogs will put their ears back when they have an illness or injury to communicate that they are not feeling well.


white black dog laying in grass put his ears back

Dogs communicate stress in different ways, and one of the most common is by putting their ears back.

When a dog puts its ears back, it’s usually a sign that it’s feeling threatened or stressed out.

That can be due to something as minor as a stranger coming into the house or something as significant as being in the middle of a fight with another dog.

In many cases, putting your ears back is just a way for your dog to try and look smaller and less threatening.

It’s also a way to calm down and focus on what’s happening around them.


Dogs are known to put their ears back when listening to something.

That is a way for them to focus better on what is being said. It also allows them to better understand the speaker’s tone and emotions.


Dogs have a safety mechanism where they put their ears back when they feel unsafe.

That is usually seen in dogs around unfamiliar people or animals. By putting their ears back, they make themselves look smaller and less threatening, which can hopefully defuse the situation.

Trying To Get Close To Another Person Or Animal.

Dogs are known to be amiable creatures.

They love to get close to other people and animals and often put their ears back as a sign of affection.

If you see your dog doing this, pet them and show them some love!

That behavior should not be discouraged, as it shows that the dog is trying to connect with others.

Why It’s Important To Understand What Your Dogs Ear Position Means

light brown dog laying on couch put his ears back

There are many reasons why it’s essential to understand what the position of dog ears means and also the dog body language.

One reason is that different positions of dog ears can indicate other things about your dog’s emotional state.

By being aware of the different meanings behind dogs ears, you can better understand your dog’s mood and well-being.

Dogs ears show a lot about the dog body language.

That can help you provide them with the best possible care.

Additionally, it can help you recognize signs of health problems early and get your pup the treatment they need in a timely manner.

In short, understanding your dog’s ear placement can be a powerful tool for looking after the well-being of your four-legged companion.

Overall, it’s essential to take note of your dogs ears and learn its meaning so that you can better understand them and provide them with high-quality care.

You can ensure your pup is happy, healthy, and safe by being attentive to this subtle dog’s body language cue.

Types Of Typical Ear Positioning

brown little dog put his ears back

Back And Relaxed

When a dog’s ears are positioned back and relaxed, it usually means that the dog is feeling comfortable and relaxed.

It’s also possible that the ears hang.

This position is common in dogs socializing with friends or family or around people they know and trust.

Back And Tensed

Pulled back ears, and tense usually indicate that the dog feels defensive or aggressive.

This position may be seen when a stranger is approaching a dog or when they’re feeling threatened.

In some cases, this positioning can also be a sign of dominance.

Tensed And Ears Forward

Lastly, if a dog’s ears are positioned tense and forward, they are alert, in fear or anxious.

Dogs in this state may be preparing to take action or defend themselves against a threat.

That can also be seen in highly excited dogs, such as when playing or chasing a toy.

It’s important to note that not all dogs will exhibit the same ear positioning in all situations.

The positions mentioned here are just generalizations of what is often seen in many different breeds and temperaments of dogs.

Furthermore, depending on the breed, some dogs may have naturally floppy ears, which makes it difficult to determine their ear position at any given time.

To interpret your dog’s various ear positions accurately, it’s best to take note of other body language cues they may be displaying simultaneously, such as their tail wag or facial expression.

When To Use Caution

When a dog puts his ears back, you need to be careful.

That might mean that the dog is feeling scared or gets mad at you.

You must watch the dog’s behavior closely to see what is happening.

Caution should be taken if the dog continues to display signs of fear or aggression.

Move away slowly and avoid sudden movements that may startle the dog.

Avoid direct eye contact, as this can also make them feel threatened.

Speak in a soft and calming voice and try to distract the dog with a toy or treat if possible.

If you’re still concerned about your safety, seek professional help from an animal behaviorist or trainer who works with aggressive dogs.

With caution and patience, you can work towards helping your pup become more comfortable around people and other animals.

white dog put his ears back

Why Dogs Put Their Ears Back When Petting

Dogs pull their ears back when petted because it feels good.

Dogs may enjoy petting their ears, so they may tilt them backward to make it easier for the person petting them.

Alternatively, this behavior could be a sign of discomfort or anxiety.

If your dog dislikes having its ears touched, try backing off and seeing if they’re more comfortable with a different type of petting.

In some cases, the ears may be laid back flat against the head in response to being touched.

That could signify that your dog is anxious or scared and wants to make itself as small as possible to protect itself from perceived danger.

If this is the case, it’s best to give them space and let them calm down.

Your pup may tilt its ears back when curious or engaged with something else.

Dogs often move their ears around when listening intently for potential threats, such as an approaching car or another animal.

When this happens, it’s best not to disturb them as they could become startled if interrupted by this heightened awareness.

white black dog in nature put his ears back

Overall, the positioning of a dog’s ears can tell us a lot about how they feel in any given situation.

Pay attention to your dog’s ear positioning and use caution if their ears appear tense or forward.

Additionally, understanding why dogs put their ears back when petting can help us create better relationships with our canine companions.

By being aware of these signs, we can help keep our furry friends comfortable and safe!

Before You Go…

Now you know the answer to the question, “Why do dogs put their ears back?”.

If you want to learn more, read the following article too!

Or watch this video:

Mena Emad, DVM
Mena has a Bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine. His expertise, passion for animal welfare, extensive knowledge, and experience in the field of veterinary medicine make him an excellent resource for our readers.

Become A Smarter Dog Owner​

Join other dog owners and get a free copy of our “Happy Dog Handbook – The Essential Guide For Dog Owners” and a daily email with carefully compiled tips, facts, and memes.

Become A Smarter Dog Owner

Join other dog owners and get a free copy of our “Happy Dog Handbook – The Essential Guide For Dog Owners” and a daily email with carefully compiled tips, facts, and memes.