Friday 6 December 2013

The head tilt: all is revealed

I am going to begin with a quote from Nobel prize winning physicist Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937):

"If your experiment needs statistics, you ought to have done a better experiment".

Well I am pleased to report that the data you provided on the topic of head tilting (as detailed in the comments to my post Getting things straight…or not) are sufficiently clear cut that statistical analysis is redundant. Lord Rutherford would have been proud of me.

But what a rich set of observations you provided. Thank you to each and every one of the 35 pups who contributed to a substantial and fascinating dataset.

Overwhelmingly, you told me that you tilt your heads when confronted with a situation that in some way puzzled you, thus supporting, I believe, the theory that the behaviour is linked to an attempt to increase understanding through gaining a different perspective.

Several pups reported a particular association between head tilting and hearing a 'funny noise', but any suggestion that this is something to do with moving ear flaps away from earholes is comprehensively rebutted by your evidence, which demonstrates the cocked heads are at least as popular amongst breed with upright ears. Scotties, in particular, seem to be enthusiastic adopters of the head aslant pose.

Apparently my predecessor Hamish the Westie would come and sit by Gail, head cutely cocked to one side, whenever she was getting ready to go to work. Gail imagined he did this because he knew she found the look irresistible and he hoped she would decide to stay at home, but it seems that this is not commonly observed behaviour, at least amongst the cohort of blogging dogs sampled in this experiment.

So why am I not a head tilter?

I imagine it is because, with my sky high IQ and deep scientific knowledge, I am rarely confronted with a situation that I do not immediately comprehend. Although I admit I am not sure why this statement is making Gail laugh so much, and, after experimenting by moving my head through a range of angles, I am still none the wiser.

(By the way, I reject the suggestion made by my a couple of my friends, that I am in fact tilting my head in some of photos on my blog. What you see there is me looking sideways, a different matter entirely).

Finally, please spare a thought for my old friend Stella, whose mom Jo claims to have 'bigger things to think about' than observing Stella's head position. Gosh I'm sure we are all looking forward to reading about these 'bigger things' on Jo and Stella's blog one of these days...

I shall end this post as I began, with another (more famous) quote from Lord Rutherford:

"All science is either physics or stamp collecting".

The December pup on Gail's calendar


  1. Maybe instead of having a British 'stiff upper lip' you have a 'stiff upper neck' and that is why you don't tilt your head :) :) :)

  2. Well that facts are in, and just goes to show, nothing special about it, just need more knowledge!

    The Mad Scots

  3. BOL funny Reillys' comment. Maybe I need to go back to school then? Have a fabulous Friday Bertie.
    Best wishes Molly

  4. Oh Bertie my handsome WHT you absolutely crack me up!!! OMDs...never fear there is no competition here for your Director of Science position. You did a lot of serious research and it is a known fact my mom cannot search her way out of a circular Shopping Mall.

    Mom loves "All science is either physics or stamp collecting".
    Lots of kitty hugs from a napping kitty

  5. Hari OM
    concisely and elegantly resolved, dear Bertie, as expected!! Hope you were not blown away ..eerrrrr, taking flying lessons.... like Lady Vicki yesterday. Am off to Bute tomorrow. Catch you when I return. Stay warm and upright! Hugs and wags, YAM-aunty xxx

  6. So I am tilting for nothing in other words

  7. At LEAST ..WE can't be accused to TILTING at Wind Mills.
    Now about that last quote... we would like it better if it said Physics or SQUIRREL DEADING/collecting. Just sayin.

  8. Lord Rutherford would have been proud of you for sure :D

  9. Bigger things than observing your dog??!! What would Lord Rutherford make of that statement?

    We think Hamish was on to something does work sometimes.

    XXXOOO Daisy, Bella & Roxy

  10. Maxwell: I tend to agree. When confronted with something fascinating, I stare intently. No head tilting in sight.

    Faraday: Oh and yes. Physics or stamp collecting: quite!

  11. Bertie, as always you amaze me with your analysis. I agree, but only cause I want you to think I am smart like you. In truth, I only read about half of it, when I heard a noise and tilted my head and ran off to investigate.

    Loveys Sasha

  12. I'm a little late ...the traffic between here and the other side is unreal. I am the master head titler and like Hamish I used the head tilt for sympathy ...where my assistant was about to leave for work, preparing a meal without my help, eating dinner before feeding me tilt of the head changed everything!

    Your pal, Angel Pip

  13. hm, Now you mention it I does not cock my head either. If I hear a strange noise I prefer to bark at it, or stare intently. I has seed Arran do this so obviously he not as intelligent as me.
    Sorry I has not beed by lately (again) Mum really needs a laptop so she can sit facing out instead of to the wall, so we can watch Arran AND blog. Sorry to hear about HGD being in hospital. I will keep my paws crossed for him. Glad you had a lovely trip though. Don't listen to your poodle cousin, what do girls know anyway!
    ~Lickies, Ludo
    (Oh, and I guess Arran)

  14. Errrr......Yes.......quite. *tilts head and looks puzzled* deccy x

  15. Howdy Bertie. Our mum probably wouldn't even notice if we were doing a paw stand let alone a head tilt. She's gone completely coo coo trying to Christmas shop, i.e. sit and drink coffee and eat muffins while she contemplates her endless lists, sigh. Sometimes I, Stella, headtilt but Rory never does. It takes too much energy hehe. Take care mates. No worries, and love, Stella and Rory

  16. I forgot to mention that funny noises definitely get me to tilt my head (and to bark as well).

    I think you're totally right about your IQ being the reason for not ever tilting your head. I also have a high IQ (and in fact I'm your godmother), but I'm so low to the ground that I still need to engage in head-tilting behavior from time to time.