Yawning is perfectly normal in dogs. In fact, it is normal behavior in most vertebrates, including primates, horses, penguins, fish, cats, and even snakes, among many others.
Turns out, tiredness and boredom dont come close to fully explaining why dogs yawn. Physiologically, some studies suggest that yawning, like caffeine, might play a role in stimulation of the nervous system.
Rugaas also explains that yawning and other calming signals can communicate a dogs peaceful intentions to others to avoid conflict or diffuse a potentially threatening situation. For example, a stressed dog thats yawning might also be licking their lips and/or tucking their tail, holding their ears back, and maintaining an averted gaze or big, wide eyes. In a recent study at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, researchers evaluated the influence of owner presence on behavioral and physiological indicators of fear in dogs during routine physical exams.
They found that when the dogs owners were present, there were fewer vocalizations, a lower body temperature, and a higher rate of yawning. They concluded that, when practical, owners should be encouraged to remain with their dog during routine vet exams. ACVB and Professor Emeritus at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, yawning in dogs may well prove that they can experience empathy.
If youre seeing a lot of yawning along with some of the other indicators of stress (tail tucked, ears back, avoidance, cowering, looking away, lip licking, big eyes, etc. ), you can assume that your dog is feeling fearful, uncertain, anxious, or stressed about the outcome of the interaction or situation. In the book Doggie Language , illustrator and author Lili Chin explains that a stress yawn is accompanied by a body that is not relaxed or sleepy and may indicate that the dog may be feeling:
The dog may be forced to use more overt signs of fear, anxiety, and stress to ask for distance, such as growling, snapping, and biting. This involves creating positive associations, teaching and rewarding new behaviors, in some cases, utilizing anxiety management to help your dog feel better and be able to learn. Stellato AC, Dewey CE, Widowski TM, Niel L. Evaluation of associations between owner presence and indicators of fear in dogs during routine veterinary examinations.
Do dogs yawn when they are happy?
Active dogs tend to yawn when they’re especially excited about what they’re doing or what they’re about to do. In an article by K9 Magazine, Jasmine Kleine says, “By yawning, the dog is preparing its body for the action. The deep breaths fill the lungs and boost the flow of oxygen to the brain.
Is it normal for my dog to yawn a lot?
It’s completely normal for your dog to yawn. But there are some situations that should cause you to think twice. If you notice that excessive yawning in any situation, it may be a sign that they need to step away and calm down.
Why does my dog keep acting like he's yawning?
A yawn may indicate anticipation or stress, too. Your dog may yawn repeatedly when he’s waiting in the vet’s office as a way of dealing with nervousness. Sometimes dogs yawn in anticipation of something enjoyable, such as a walk—this is a way of controlling his enthusiasm.
Is dog yawning bad?
Although most yawning is perfectly natural, if Fido seems to be excessively yawning or yawning and licking his lips, you do want to pay attention. Yawning and lip licking could be a result of dental issues, nausea, or extreme stress. Try to offer Fido a consistent routine and check his teeth every once in a while.
When a student yawns during a long lecture, you know theyre either bored or tiredor both. But what about when your dog yawns? When your dog opens his mouth wide in the middle of a training session or when youre about to go on a walk, being bored or tired doesnt make sense. It looks like theyre blowing you off, and its natural to think, How rude! But before you take it too personally, remember dogs and people arent always the same.
When you dawdle putting your shoes on or interrupt your routine to answer the phone, your dogs yawn could indicate their impatience and anticipation. Flattened ears, lip licking, wide eyes, and tense muscles are all further indications a dog is uncomfortable with the current situation.
People resort to nervous habits like nail biting and foot tapping when theyre stressed, and a dogs version of that is to yawn.
If you own a dog, youve probably seen him yawn. A lot. And while a dog yawning is certainly adorable, you may have also wondered, Why do dogs yawn so much? Do they yawn for the same reason humans do? It certainly seems to be a natural response to something, but what? Is it even something you might need to be worried about? After all, dogs have no shortage of perplexing habits, like eating grass and following you into the bathroom.
Yawning, avoiding eye contact, licking their lips, sniffing something in the environment, and exaggerated slow walking are all ways [dogs communicate] thattheyre not a threat, Dr. Nelson says.
When it comes to dogs, not all yawns are the same. Aside from that, the reasons for yawning are not fully understood (in dogs or in humans). It used to be thought that yawning was a way to replenish oxygen supply in the brain, but science has yet to find any evidence of this. Yawning also hasnt been shown to wake up a tired brain, even though we yawn most when we are bored or tired. Since yawning is most likely to occur in a warm room, its thought that it does have some effect on cooling the brain. However, more studies need to be done on this. Now, its thought that yawning is a form of communication.
Emotional and Sociological Functions for Dog Yawning
Physiologically, some studies suggest that yawning, like caffeine, might play a role in stimulation of the nervous system. Yawning might also “cool” down the brain when its temperature increases.Neuroscientist Robert Provine has done extensive research on yawning that shows that, in dogs, humans, and other vertebrates, yawns often come during moments of transition from one behavioral state to another, such as:
#2 – Anxiety and Stress
While a person yawning during a meeting is considered an insult to the speaker, a dog’s yawn could be interpreted as a compliment. Active dogs tend to yawn when they’re especially excited about what they’re doing or what they’re about to do. In an article by K9 Magazine, Jasmine Kleine says,So when your dog sees you grab your jacket and the leash, they know they’re about to go on a walk. Their yawn doesn’t mean they’d rather stay home and nap, it means they can’t wait to go exploring. When you dawdle putting your shoes on or interrupt your routine to answer the phone, your dog’s yawn could indicate their impatience and anticipation. They’re basically say, “Let’s go already!”
#3 – Confusion
Another explanation to an oddly timed yawn is that the dog is confused and doesn’t know what else to do. This happens a lot during training sessions. The dog’s owner gives a command, but the dog isn’t sure what they want. The more the owner repeats the command, the worse the situation gets. Their jaw-cracking yawn isn’t because they’re bored with the lesson or about to fall asleep. It’s because they know they’re expected to do something, but they have no idea what it is. Reducing the pressure of the situation and moving on to a command the dog definitely knows will help get the training session back on track.
Why do dogs yawn?
Well, first of all, why do humans yawn? Scientists haven’t even completely gotten to the bottom ofSimilarly, dogs likely yawn for these reasons the same way we do. “Exhaustion is one of the reasons why dogs yawn,” Dr. Nelson says. “Stretching their facial muscles is one way of attempting to stay awake.”
Do dogs yawn for other reasons?
Yes, dog yawning can mean other things as well. In addition to serving these more familiar purposes, dogs also yawn “during times of anxiety, insecurity, excitement, indifference, and as a calming signal to other dogs,” Dr. Nelson explains. A “calming signal,” possibly the most significant of these, is a way to peacefully greet another dog. It’s almost like the dog equivalent of a handshake. And yawning is not the only calming signal dogs use. “Yawning, avoiding eye contact, licking their lips, sniffing something in the environment, and exaggerated slow walking are all ways [dogs communicate] that…they’re not a threat,” Dr. Nelson says. Find out the reason behind another strange dog greeting: Why do dogs sniff each other’s butts?
Most trainers and behaviorists will advise owners to watch out for signs of stress in their dogs, and one of these signs is often excessive yawning. This is accurate information, as dogs do seem to yawn when they are feeling anxious. For example, you might find during an obedience class that dogs feeling stress and displeasure from their owners will often yawn as if to display their understanding that punishment may be coming. If you’re out on a walk and stop to talk to a neighbor, you might notice your dog yawn a few times. This is because your dog is either uncomfortable with the person, or perhaps she is just anxious to get moving again. After all, a dog excited to go on a walk certainly doesn’t want to stop and sit around for 20 minutes!
Yawning as a sign to communicate indifference has been observed in both domesticated dogs and wild canids. Many times, when a dog is faced with an aggressive dog, he will offer a yawn in response to the aggressor. This simply means that the yawning dog is not interested in any sort of conflict. It’s not a sign of submission, but rather a sign of pacification. Yawning can also be seen in dominant dogs and wolves. When they are confronted with submissive or fearful pack members or strangers, they will often yawn to show their lack of concern with the submissive one. This often seems to have a calming effect on the anxious dog or wolf.