It is difficult with some breeds to see what their ears are telling you. Especially dogs
with floppy or heavily cropped ears. With these guys I like to look where the ear connects to the head to see the subtle movements in different situations.
Ears forward and erect.
Often seen in a confident dog or a dog that is interested in something. “Hey, what is that? I need to look into this further.” In dog to dog situations the dog is showing his status and is not afraid.
Ears slightly back.
Somewhat of a subordinate gesture. Often seen at greeting a friend or playmate.
Ears flat back against the head.
There can be a number of meanings for this depending on the situation. It can be see upon greeting the master or family members. “Hi, I am happy to see you, you’ve been gone almost a whole hour.” It is also seen by a subordinate dog greeting a more dominant dog. “See look at me, I am no threat.” And it can also be a sign of real fear when coupled with tell tale body language which we will cover later.
One ear forward, one ear back.
You will see this if your dog is attentive towards you when you are out for a walk and the dog may be ahead of you. “I may be up ahead but I am still listening for you.” On the other hand it can be seen in dogs in serious conflict. “I am really unsure how to handle this situation.” It can often accompany a fearful interaction and the dog does not know what to do next.