The ear drop, I am always looking for it, especially in puppies. But I also like to see it in adult dogs as well. Dogs communicate hugely with their ears. Of course a dog with upright ears has a more distinct visual display compared to the big floppy ears that can be more of a challenge to read. Signs, there are so, so many signs that dogs give us and ears play a big part in all of the signs. The other night my husband was out with the dogs right after work. They'd had their greeting and were outside just simply enjoying each others company when I got my camera out. Luke and Steve were having a moment so I captured it. But I also capture many signals as a side bonus. Steve had just got up off of the lounge and was moving away. Elsa was watching what he was doing in the first image. Then he directed his attention to her and spoke; her ears immediately dropped in a submissive respect. Love it.
This ear drop is what I am always looking for in a puppy. It is not a full on body drop to the ground submission but more of a quick respect signal. I have seen puppies do this when adults appear on the scene and what follows depends on the interaction. With canine and humans that live together it is typically fleeting and easily missed; I'm glad that I was able to capture it.
When our little Granddog Penny is over you can see her ear drop very clearly. With those huge upright ears of hers, you'd be hard pressed to miss it. Even still many people see it but don't notice it. The small respectful ear drop it quick; normally they are down and up again within seconds. It is different than the full on submissive dropped ears. The photo below shows a full submissive drop accompanied with body and tail submission.
The quick ear drop signals to the recipient, acknowledgement and respect. A dog who is highly alert and in a dominant state will not drop their ears. Many puppies do not offer the ear drop for several reasons. One is that they are distracted to the point of not noticing or acknowledging. Two, they may not have had the interactions needed to create this response and three, they are a very dominant type and dropping their ears is something that may take a great deal of work to achieve. Even then it may only ever be offered to a single person or canine member of the pack.
All of my dogs have offered ear drops but not always right out of the shoot. Jessie took a while to offer as she was a very dominant little lady. The absence of the ear drop is not a bad thing; but when it is never offered to you the "leader" then there is work to do. Some dogs will drop their ears easily, others need more direct contact. All dogs are different and what one feels as an ear drop moment, another may not. I like ear drops, it is the tiniest signal that your dog is aware that you have entered the picture.
When I am looking at a litter of puppies or a single puppy; the ear drop does not need to be directed to me but I would like to see it directed to someone. When I see an ear drop from a puppy when their Mother appears, nice.