If your dog has been putting his ears back a lot, this post will show you likely reasons why and what to do about it.

So, why does my dog put his ears back? Likely reasons why your dog puts his ears back are that he is being submissive, showing excitement, showing aggression or anxious.

There are actually a number of possible reasons why your dog will put their ears back and it might be due to a combination of reasons. However, there are a number of things you can consider to help figure out the main cause and there are a number of things you can do about it.

Why does my dog put his ears back?

Below are likely reasons why your dog puts their ears back and what would make each of them more likely.

Submissiveness

A possible cause is that it is being submissive. This would be more likely if it does it in situations where it might be being submissive such as when bigger dogs are around it or when it has just done something it shouldn’t have and you just found out. It would also be more likely if it shows other signs of submission such as hiding its tail or rolling on its back.

Excitement

It might be the case that your dog has been doing it due to being excited. This would be more likely if it shows other signs of excitement such as wagging its tail. It would also be more likely if it does it when something might be exciting it such as when you come home or are about to take it out for a walk.

Anxiety

It could also be the case that something has been causing your dog to be anxious or fearful. This would be more likely if your dog tends to do it more when there are loud noises inside or other pets or people around that they do not like.

As a warning

It might also be the case that it is warning you not to go near it or it is being aggressive. This would be more likely if it does it in situations such as when it is eating or when it is guarding something that it thinks belongs to it like a spot on the couch. It would also be more likely if it shows other signs of aggression such as showing its teeth, stiffening its legs and growling.

In this case, it would be important to give it lots of training so that it learns how it is meant to behave. If it seems to be the case that it could become aggressive, the best option would be to seek the help of a certified dog behaviorist or trainer in your area.

Consider what their body language is showing

Below are some body language signs to consider when figuring out the main reason why your dog has been doing it.

Eyes

The eyes can tell you a lot about the mood your dog is in. Generally, wide-open eyes where you can see a lot of white around the outside with dilated pupils is a sign of aggression, fear or stress. Whereas, squinting is generally a sign that it feels relaxed.

Mouth

When dogs are feeling relaxed they will normally have their mouths open with their tongues out and be panting.

If they are feeling frightened then they might pant excessively, have a closed mouth or drool a lot when there is no reason to.

Whereas, if they pull their front lips up and show their teeth, it would normally be a sign of aggression. However, if they show their front teeth when wagging their tails, squinting and flattening their ears then it would be a more submissive sign.

Tail

When your dog is feeling excited it will likely wag its tail and often raise it as well. Whereas, if it hides its tail between its legs then it would normally be a sign of fear or submission.

Hair

If its hair appears to raise then it will usually be a sign of being upset or aroused. However, raised hair can also signal that it is feeling aggressive especially if it shows other signs of aggression.

Panting

It is normal for a dog to pant in order to keep itself cool. However, if it pants excessively with a tight mouth then it can be a sign that it is feeling stressed.

Timing

It would also help to consider what else is happening and the timing of when your dog moves its ears back.

For example, if it moves its ears back when you come home and it is wagging its tail and trying to lick you, it would be much more likely that it is showing excitement.

Whereas, if it moves its ears back when it is eating and it growls as well, it would be much more likely that it is doing it because it is resource guarding and warning you not to approach it.

Why does my dog put his ears back when I pet him?

Likely reasons why your dog puts his ears back when you pet him are that he is excited and/or being submissive. It would help to consider if your dog shows other signs of excitement such as wagging their tail or if your dog shows other submissive signs such as moving away or making themselves appear smaller.

Why does my dog put his ears back when I talk to him?

Likely reasons why your dog puts his ears back when you talk to him are that he is being submissive, showing confusion or excited. It would help to consider the other body language signs shown. If he does things such as wag his tail, it would be more likely to be due to excitement. Whereas, lowering itself to the ground would be more of a submissive sign.

Why does my dog put his ears back when he greets me?

The most likely reason why your dog puts his ears back when he is greeting you is that he is showing excitement or that he is feeling happy. This would be especially likely if he shows other signs of excitement such as running up to you and wagging his tail.

Why does my dog put his ears back when licking me?

Putting the ears back and licking you at the same time is often a submissive gesture. However, it might also be the case that your dog is feeling relaxed. It would help to consider if your dog seems to be anxious or relaxed when doing it.

Why does my dog put his ears back when I look at him?

If your dog puts his ears back when you look at him, it could be due to being submissive, excited or anxious. If your dog only does it when you are annoyed with him or when you might be annoyed with him, it would be more likely that he is being submissive. Whereas, if he does things such as wag his tail, it would be more likely that he is also showing excitement.

What to do about my dog putting his ears back?

Below are some options you have when dealing with the behavior.

Be calm with them

If it seems like your dog has been doing it due to being fearful or anxious, it would help to be calm with them and to limit potential reasons why they might be feeling fearful or anxious.

Nothing

Your dog putting their ears back, when you interact with them, is not necessarily a bad thing. Often, dogs will do it when they are feeling relaxed or excited. Unless your dog seems to be doing it due to being anxious or fearful, the easiest thing to do would likely be to let the behavior continue.

Author

I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.