Unraveling the Mystery of Why Dogs Put Their Ears Back

We all know dogs are one of the most expressive creatures around, but have you ever stopped to wonder why dogs put their ears back?

For those of us who have had the pleasure of sharing our lives with a canine companion, it’s a mystery that has surely crossed our minds more than once.

After all, it’s one of the most common and iconic expressions among pups! We’re here to shed some light on this wily behavior and unlock the secrets behind why dogs tuck their little flaps.

Let’s take a look at what could be motivating your furry friend to put his ears back. 

10 Reasons Why Dogs Put Their Ears Back

Dogs may be man’s best friend, but sometimes their behavior can leave us scratching our heads. A common action we see dogs do is put their ears back—so why exactly do they do it?

Here are 10 reasons why dogs put their ears back and what you can learn from the gesture.

1. Fear:

Dogs will often flatten their ears when they are scared or feel threatened by something. This helps them appear smaller and less menacing in a perceived threatening situation.

To make sure your pup feels safe, provide plenty of positive reinforcement to help build their confidence!

2. Submission:

If a dog is in an intimidating environment or around another dominating canine, it’s not uncommon for them to put their ears back as an act of submission.

This is a way for them to make themselves appear non-threatening and show that they are no threat to the alpha dog in the room.

3. Pain:

Ears flattening can be a sign that your pup is feeling pain or discomfort.

If your pooch’s ears are constantly lying flat, it could be indicative of a deeper issue such as infection, injury, or even allergies—in this case, you should take them to the vet immediately!

4. Sadness:

If your pup is feeling down, it’s not uncommon for them to put their ears back. Dogs are incredibly perceptive and can pick up on our emotions—so if you’re feeling a bit blue, chances are your pup will be too!

5. Anxiety:

Much like fear, anxiety can also cause ear flattening in dogs. If your pup’s ears remain flattened even after being exposed to the source of their anxiety, it could mean that there is something else causing them distress.

6. Embarrassment:

It may sound silly but yes, dogs really do have feelings of shame and embarrassment!

When they are put on the spot for doing something wrong (or for simply being embarrassed), their ears flattening is one of the ways they’ll express it.

7. Stress:

Dogs will often put their ears back when they’re feeling overwhelmed by a situation. If you notice your pup doing this, try to take them away from the source of stress and give them some time to relax.

8. Courting:

Believe it or not, ears flattening in dogs can be a sign of courtship. During mating season, the female will often lower her ears in order to signal that she’s receptive and ready to mate.

9. Excitement:

Believe it or not, dogs can actually put their ears back in excitement too!

It’s usually accompanied by wagging tails and big smiles which makes it easy to identify as an expression of joy rather than fear or anxiety.

10. Danger:

Dogs have an incredible sense of smell and hearing, so when they’re on alert mode, ears flattening is one of the ways they tell us that something isn’t quite right.

If you notice your pooch doing this, keep an eye out for potential danger!


Understanding why dogs put their ears back can help you better interpret their behavior and provide them with the right kind of support and reassurance when needed.

Pay attention to your furry friend’s gestures so that you can always tell when something isn’t quite right.

And remember: even if they don’t have words, our canine companions still know how to communicate—it just takes patience and understanding on our part to unlock the language!

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