How Dogs Communicate With Their Ears? (With Chart)

Have you noticed that the position of your dog’s ears changes in various situations, almost as though they are trying to bring their point across with their ears? If so, you have a keen eye because dogs tend to communicate with their ears.

However, the question is, how dogs communicate with their ears, and what does each ear position mean? Do not fret because we have done all the research on our end and gathered everything you would want to know about dogs communicating with their ears.

How Dogs Communicate With Their Ears?

If your dog’s ears are back while you speak or approach them, it indicates that they are welcoming you. It is a gesture that communicates their friendliness and non-aggression. However, if your dog’s ears are pricked, it may either indicate that they are attentive or be alert to something happening around them.

Dog Ear’s Position Meaning 

dog ear's positions meaning

1. Dropped Back Or Pinned Ears

Dropped Back or pinned ears often indicate that your dog is happy, nervous, or even both! When your dog’s ears are pinned to the side of their head when they are kissing your face or spending time with you, you could assume that your dog is simply happy and wants to come across as harmless.

However, in some situations, your dog may be nervous. To identify whether your dog is happy or nervous, you should take note of their behavioral and body language cues. If your dog’s ears are dropped back or pinned to the sides of his face while their tails are loosely waggling back and forth, then your dog is happy.

You can generally assume your dog is nervous when its ears are tucked along with its tail. Other signs of nervousness include shivering, howling, panting, pacing, raised hackling, and yawning.

2. Pricked/Attentive Ears

When your dog’s ears are pricked forward, it generally indicates that your dog your dogs is focused on something. If your dog is playing with some playmates, they may be focused on their playmate. This can be especially true when they are playing fetch; they would be focused on the ball so that they can run after it.

When your dog’s ears are pricked as a result of them being attentive, their mouths would generally be open. Their eyes would be facing the direction of whatever they are focused on. You should take note of the direction of your dog’s gaze. 

When your dog’s ears are pricked, it indicates their attentiveness, and following their gaze will help you identify what your dog is focused on. You will be able to identify whether it is harmless or whether you should take action. 

3. Pricked/Alert Ears

When your dog hears an unusual sound around the house or in the neighborhood, their ears would be pricked. Their pricked ears are an indication of their alertness. When dogs are alert, they would generally stand still for a moment while trying to figure out the origin of the unusual sound and whether it is dangerous or not.

Other body language cues that indicate your dog’s alert includes a lifted tail, forward body weight, and a closed mouth. Soe behavioral signs that your dog is on alert include nudging, eye contact, and becoming antsy.

If your dog suddenly does this while you are going for a walk or hiking, it may be an indication that your dog has heard an unusual sound. You should also get your guard up if you notice this because something may be around you. 

4. Extremely Pinned Ears

When your dog’s ears are extremely pinned back, it almost looks like their ears are being pulled by an invisible hand. This ear position generally indicates that your dog is in fear. A fearful dog would generally display other signs of fear. You should try to identify these other signs of fear so that you know whether you should remove your dog from that unsettling situation.

When your dog is fearful, his extremely pinned ears would generally be accompanied by a stiff and hunched body. Your dog would be cowering away from whatever has him feeling fearful. Your dog’s tail would also be pinned between its legs, and its movements would be small and slow. 

Some dogs tend to squint their eyes when they are in fearful situations. This is an instinctive way for them to protect their eyes from any attack. Another indication that your dog is scared would be them baring their teeth while their whole face appears scrunched-up.

5. Ears Changing Positions

If the position of your dog’s ears is changing, it indicates that your dog may be trying to figure something out. The flicking back and forth of their ears shows that your dog is concerned about something and is trying to figure out how they feel about it.

Like us, dogs sometimes need a moment to progress through a specific event and decide how to react to it. They may happen when walking your dog in a busy street for the first time. Your dog’s ears will change positions as they try to react to seeing so many people and different things for the first time.

6. Neutral Position

When your dog’s ears are in their natural position, you refer to it as a neutral position. Your dog would appear relaxed. Your dog’s ears would not be pricked forward at all, nor would they be on the side of his head or drooling downward. 

If your dog’s ears are in a neutral position, it generally means that your dog is calm and at ease. To conclusively conclude whether your dog is at ease, you should consider other cues based on their body language. 

When your dog is relaxed, its tail generally has a relaxed tail. Your dog would also generally be sitting down or lying down. Another body language cue is when your dog is lying down with its head resting on its paws. If your dog is relaxed, they would generally look almost dazed out and would start wagging their tail when you make eye contact with them or call them.

Dog Ear Positions Chart

Dog Ear Positions Chart
Ear PositionWhat Does It Mean?
Dropped back or Pinned earsHappy or Nervous
Pricked/Attentive EarsAttentive or Focused
Pricked/AlertAlert or warry
Extremely Pinned EarsFearful
Ears Changing PositionConfused or concerned
Neutral EarsRelax and calm


Why Does My Dog Put His Ears Back When I Pet Him?

Your dog is putting his ears back when you pet him to communicate his submissiveness. Your dog acknowledges you and accepts such acts of love from you. It may also indicate that your dog is paying attention to you and enjoying the time spent with you.

What Does It Mean When A Dog Has Ears Pinned Back And Tail Wagging?

When a dog has its ears pinned back while its tail wags, it indicates that it is happy or exciting. Dogs tend to do this, being you give them a treat before you take them out for a walk.

Why Does My Dog Put Her Ears Back When I Talk To Her?

Your dog puts her ears back while you talk to her because she is listening to you. It is also a way to show that she is attentive while still being harmless. It is a gentle way for her to show that she is paying attention and being submissive at the moment.

Why Does My Dog Greet Me With His Ears Back?

When your dog greets you with his ears back, it indicates that he is happy to see you. It is often an indication that he is fond of you. However, if his ears are extremely pinned back, and his tail is tucked between his legs, then you might have done something that he knows is wrong while you were away.


We have discussed the various positions that your dog’s ears could assume and what they may indicate, along with various other behavioral and body language cues to look out for. The next time you are around your dog, try to figure out what your dog is communicating through their ears.

Being able to pick up on what your dog is communicating with their ears will draw you so much closer to them. Your bond with your dog will only grow stronger, and you will find it so much easier to predict what they may be thinking based on the position of their ears and body language in general.

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