Why Do Dogs Move Their Ears Up & Down?

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For a human, the mere idea of using the ears to communicate may be rather giggle-inducing. However, that is certainly not the case with dogs. Canines utilize the positioning of their ears to express a wide array of different emotions, moving them up and down with every passing mood.

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Excitement and Curiosity

A dog may move his ears up to express excitement. If something interesting catches your dog's attention, whether the presence of another furry pal or the aroma of food on someone's plate, you may just notice his ears pointing straight to the sky, pushed slightly to the front. Look out for other indications of stimulation, including widened eyes, raised tail and rigid legs. This doggie is rapt with attention, at least for the moment.



A dog may flatten his ears down if he's feeling vulnerable and does not want to engage in a conflict. When a canine encounters another larger or otherwise more powerful dog or human whom he fears may want to engage in a fight, he'll lower his ears to show that he is not a threat and would like to establish peace.


At the other end of the spectrum, a dog who feels confident when meeting or interacting with others. The raising of the ears and well as raising his tail are signs that he's feeling self-assured and confident about his social position.



When a dog feels content, happy and fully at ease, he may move his ears up. All is fine and dandy for Fluffy for the time being. Other body language clues that point to contentment are a slightly swinging tail, upright head and parted mouth.


If your dog's ears are down, he may be signifying to the world that he's scared. Whether he's feeling uncertain on the way to a veterinarian appointment or intimidated by the neighbor's massive St. Bernard, this doggie is feeling more than just a little bit freaked out -- eek. He also may be feeling protective. If he's defensive in the face of possible attack, you also may notice


By Naomi Millburn


Cold Nose Companions: Canine Body Language
The Connecticut Humane Society: Decoding Body Language
ASPCA: Reading Canine Body Postures
Caring Hands Humane Society: Body Language of Dogs

About the Author
Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.