Why Do Dogs Put Their Ears Back: 7 Possible Reasons

Why Do Dogs Put Their Ears Back

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Dogs have an instinctively unique way of communicating with their owners and other people or dogs. One of the things that make dogs so special is their ability to use their body language to communicate with us. For example, when a dog wags its tail, it is usually a sign of happiness. But what does it mean when a dog puts its ears back?

The level of a dog’s attention can be determined by its ears. Slightly pulled-back ears signal friendliness. However, if a dog’s ears are laid tightly back against its head, it suggests a fearful or timid reaction.

There are many different reasons why dogs might put their ears back. 

Here are seven possible explanations:


Why Do Dogs Put Their Ears Back? Here are 7 possible reasons

why dogs put ears back

Dogs use their ears to communicate a wide range of emotions and needs, from happiness and playfulness to fear and aggression. If you’re trying to figure out why your dog’s ears are back, it’s important to pay attention to the other signs he’s giving off and the context of the situation. 

Let’s take a look at seven possible reasons your dog’s ears pinned back: 

1. He’s Feeling Playful

One of the most common reasons for dogs’ ears back is because they’re feeling playful. If your dog’s tail is wagging and he’s bouncing around, chances are his ears are back because he wants to play. 

When dogs play with each other, they often use their mouths, so it’s not uncommon for them to nip at each other’s ears. If your dog puts his ears back and starts nipping at you, it’s probably because he wants to play with you.

If you’re not in the mood to play, just ignore your dog, and he’ll eventually stop trying to get your attention. If you are in the mood to play, make sure you have a toy or something else he can chew on so he doesn’t accidentally bite you.

2. He’s Startled Or Scared

It is also common for dogs to put their ears back when startled or scared. If your dog’s ears are suddenly flattened against his head, it could be because he heard a loud noise or someone came into the room unexpectedly. 

It could also be because he’s sensing something that is making him feel uneasy, such as another animal or person.

If your dog is startled or scared, it’s important to stay calm and avoid being too loud or aggressive. This will only make your dog more stressed and could trigger a fight-or-flight response. Instead, try to reassure your dog by speaking in a calm, soothing voice. You might also want to give him a treat to help him relax.

3. He’s Submissive Or Nervous

There’s also a reason dogs put their ears back when they’re feeling submissive or nervous. This is often the case when dogs meet new animals or people. If your dog’s ears are back and he’s avoiding eye contact, it’s likely because he’s feeling submissive or nervous.

If you’re introducing your dog to someone new, it’s important to go slowly and let your dog approach at his own pace. Forcing him to interact with someone he’s not comfortable with will only make him more stressed.

4. He’s In Pain

why dogs put ears back

If your dog is holding its ears back, it could be a sign that he is in pain. This is most likely due to fear of being hurt further if he is approached. In some rare cases, a dog with a particularly nasty case of an ear infection may be holding his ears back because they are painful. By holding them back, he may be guarding them against further injury.

Your dog’s ears are incredibly vascular, and if he scratches or shakes an itchy ear too hard, he may burst a blood vessel inside the ear pinna (the flap of the ear). When this happens, the pinna will fill with blood, giving it a puffy, pillowy appearance. 

In fact, aural hematomas are one of the most common reasons dogs hold their ears back. If you think your dog may have an aural hematoma, it’s important to take him to the vet as soon as possible.  If left untreated, aural hematomas can cause long-term damage to the ear and may even require surgery to repair.

5. He’s Hot

Dogs don’t sweat through their skin as humans do, so they rely on other methods to cool down when they’re overheated. One of the ways dogs keep cool is by panting, which helps to circulate air through their bodies. 

Another way dogs keep cool is by putting their ears back. This helps to expose the blood vessels in the ear flaps, which can then be cooled by the air. If your dog’s ears are back and he’s panting heavily, it’s likely because he’s hot and is trying to cool himself down.

If your dog is overheated, it’s important to take him to a cool, shady area and give him some water to drink. You should also call your vet if your dog is panting heavily, as this could be a sign of heat stroke.

6. He’s Listening To Something

why dogs put ears back

Dogs have incredibly sensitive hearing, which is why they’re often the first to know when someone is coming, or something is going on outside. If your dog’s ears are perked up, and he’s staring intently in one direction, it’s likely because he’s listening to something.

It’s also possible that your dog is picking up on a sound that you can’t hear. If your dog’s ears are back and he’s acting strange, it might be worth checking to see if there’s something going on that you’re not aware of.

7. He’s Greeting You

One of the most rewarding things in the world is coming home to a dog that is excited to see you. They may have their ears back and their body in a U-shape while wagging their tail. 

Other dogs may run up to you and lick your face with their ears back. Having their ears back is often a greeting gesture from your dog. They are trying to get close to you without looking threatening. With a happy look on his face and loose body language, it’s a friendly demonstration.


There are many reasons why dogs put their ears back, but the most likely explanation is that they’re trying to communicate something to you. 

Whether they’re trying to tell you, they’re hot, in pain, or just want to say hello, it’s important to pay attention to your dog’s body language so you can better understand what he’s trying to tell you. 

But in the meantime, enjoy spending time with your furry friend and getting to know them better!

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