Why Do Dogs Yawn? Reasons for This Cute Behavior!

why do dogs yawn?

Dogs communicate differently than humans. While people use words and facial expressions to get their point across, dogs use body language and vocalizations.

One of these behaviors is yawning. Though it’s common for humans to yawn when they’re tired, this isn’t always the case for dogs. So why do dogs yawn?

In general, dog yawning is a way of self-soothing. It’s one of many calming signals that dogs use to show they’re feeling uneasy or stressed.

Dogs may yawn when they see an unfamiliar person or animal approaching them, are hugged by a child, witness a quarrel in the house, or visit a vet clinic. Yawning is the dog’s way of trying to de-escalate a situation and shows they are feeling overwhelmed.

In this article, we’re going to talk about the various reasons why dogs yawn, when pet parents should be concerned about this behavior, and which actions to take against it.

What Is a Dog Yawn?

A dog yawn is a behavior where the canine opens its mouth wide and breathes in deeply. During this process, the dog may also close its eyes and stretch out its body. Dog yawns can last for up to a few seconds.

Studies have shown that humans usually yawn when they are tired or the temperature changes. Still, scientists have yet to pinpoint an exact cause for this involuntary reflex in dogs.

Why Do Dogs Yawn So Much

Physiologically, some scientific studies hypothesize that yawning, like caffeine, might assist in the excitation of the nervous system. Yawning might also have a cooling effect on the brain by decreasing its temperature.

After a thorough investigation, neuroscientist Robert Provine has discovered that dogs and humans yawning usually happens when changing from one behavior to another- like:

  • Going from anxiety to tranquility
  • Moving from boredom to interest
  • Waking up
  • Falling asleep
dog yawning

7 Emotional and Sociological Reasons for Dogs Yawning

If you own a dog, you know they yawn more than any other animal. You can easily see this when taking your pooch out for some playtime or a walk.

A dog’s yawn doesn’t always indicate tiredness rather, it can be an indication of curiosity or emotion. Some of the possible reasons for yawning are given below.

1. To Show Excitement

Dogs yawn for different reasons, but one of the main reasons is that they are happy you’re giving them attention. It might also happen when you’re about to take them on a walk or drive to the dog park.

They yawn to show their enthusiasm and excitement to play with you. If you see your dog yawning with excitement, it’s a good sign! It means they’re happy and feel safe.

2. Due to Fatigue

Fatigue can be another culprit for yawning in dogs. Puppies can feel groggy during the day and very tired at the end of a long play session.

Yawning occasionally is typically a dog’s way of saying they need to snooze and will stop when they have had enough sleep.

3. To Show Empathy

Dogs can catch yawns from us, too. A study conducted recently discovered that yawning is probably contagious among dogs when they see their owner yawn, as opposed to watching someone they don’t know.

A study conducted recently discovered that yawning is probably contagious among dogs when they see their owner yawn, as opposed to watching someone they don’t know.

This research indicates that dogs share an intense emotional connection with their respective guardians. The next time you see your dog yawn after watching you do the same, they may be trying to tell you how much they love you.

4. When Confused

Dogs yawn when they are unsure about a situation or confused. During obedience training, canine companions may yawn because they don’t understand the command you’re trying to teach them.

This can also happen while presenting a cute new toy and your dog doesn’t know what to do with it.

A dog yawning often indicates that the canine is unsure or confused about the current situation.

In these cases, sighing and yawning could be your pup’s way of trying to make sense of the situation.

5. As a Sign of Anxiety & Stress

When our canine friends feel anxious or stressed, they often yawn to cope and reduce their anxiety levels. If your dog has separation anxiety, sighs deeply, and then yawns, it may try to defuse the situation such as when:

  • Confronting strange people or other dogs 
  • Being touched or hugged when uninvited
  • Sensing a loud noise in the distance 

Stress-induced yawning is believed to occur when animals need a new source of energy or “fuel” for the fight-or-flight response.

This “fuel” gives us enough physical and emotional energy to respond appropriately in certain situations. In this sense, frequent yawning helps us (and our furry friends) prepare for a stressful event.

6. As an Appeasement Signal

Dogs yawn when they realize they have done something wrong and expect to be scolded by their owners. By yawning, dogs signal their obedience and attempt to calm their owner down.

Next time your dog yawns after breaking one of your flowers or chewing on your rug, don’t get angry with them. They may be trying to relieve the tension and telling you to relax.

7. To Avoid Conflicts

Excessive yawning in dogs around other canines may be their way of sidestepping conflict. Professionals also cite it as a calming signal.

Yawning can mean submission to others of the same species, appearing docile or non-threatening. It might happen when encountering a new dog or during play, if it gets too rowdy.

dog yawns

When Should You Be Concerned About Yawning?

Yawning is second-nature to dogs, but here are some exceptions when you should take note. A. If you see your buddy yawning overly, it might mean that they require some relaxation & break.

Though this can help dogs who suffer from situational anxiety, it becomes more complicated when this happens at home. Dogs can get stressed by a number of things:

  • Changes in their environment
  • Introduction of new pets
  • Loved one’s absence, and so on

Be sure to take note of the signs of anxiety or fear leading up to the yawn, as this situation can get worse if not resolved, such as

  • Drooling 
  • Shaking 
  • Panting 
  • Hiding

If your pup is yawning excessively (more than two yawns in a row) and appears to be clumsier than usual or unresponsive, it could indicate a seizure or an underlying health problem. If this is the case, instantly reach your vet. You should also be aware of dogs yawning and panting in the car, and know when this might be a problem or not.

What To Do if Your Dog Keeps Yawning

If your dog is yawning excessively and/or looking scared, try these simple tips to help put them at ease:

  • Dogs need a calm environment to feel secure. You can create this by providing them with a room that has white noise in the background and unique indestructible toys, treats, or puzzles.
  • Steer clear of places that will trigger fear or stress in your dog (like parades or fireworks shows). It’ll be best for them if you leave them at home.
  • Understand your dog’s essential cues for fear, anxiety, and stress—and find out how you can help your canine companion feel more relaxed (by moving them away from the scary stimulus, telling the approaching stranger to halt their approach, and taking your dog to a secluded area with fewer stimuli).
  • If your dog experiences fear and stress on a daily basis, employ science-based behavior modification to help them feel less anxious around its triggers. It includes using anxiety managing tools, training new behaviors & creating positive relationships. A behaviorist or professional trainer can assist you with this process.
black labrador yawning

Final Thoughts on Why Do Dogs Yawn?

Yawning in dogs can hold numerous meanings and play multiple roles in the social lives of our canine friends. Many researchers believe that it is an essential communication tool for dogs to express their emotions and feelings.

While the exact reason why dogs yawn is still unknown, it is crucial to observe your dog’s body language and the context of the situation to understand what they may be trying to tell you.

Please confer with a skilled trainer if you’re worried about your pooch’s extreme yawning.

Interested in more doggie behavior? Check out our post on why dogs get the hiccups (and when you need to worry)!