Why Do Dogs Yawn
If you’ve caught your dog yawning on occasions, you might have thought — and understandably so — that they were yawning out of boredom or fatigue. However, research has shown that a dog’s yawn has quite a different meaning than one would expect.
Scientists have narrowed down the causes of a dog’s yawn to three main reasons: stress, communication with other dogs, and empathy to humans.
At times, a dog might yawn in response to stressful circumstances. This could range from a tense situation occurring near him to a confusing training session. It’s not uncommon to observe dogs yawning at the vet’s or the groomer’s due to the unfamiliar environment. The next time your dog yawns, it would a good idea to take note of the surrounding circumstances, and consider if they could be putting your dog through unnecessary stress.
Communication With Other Dogs
Interestingly, a yawn could also be a calming signal from one canine to another. A calming signal is an attempt at appeasement during a potential conflict with an aggressive counterpart. When a dog yawns in this situation, they are saying: “I’m not interested in a fight, let’s not escalate things here”.
Some people have even observed their dogs yawning with such intentions to humans. For example, if you snatch a toy from your dog’s mouth, they may choose to yawn in indifference instead of snatching the toy back.
Empathy To Humans
Perhaps the most intriguing reason for dog’s yawning is that, apparently, dogs can ‘catch’ other yawns. It is known that yawns are ‘contagious’ among humans, but studies have shown that our yawns can have the same effect on our dogs.
Dogs may yawn in response to our yawn, or another dog’s yawn. It is thought that this is their way of showing empathy, especially to those they are familiar with. So, if your dog follows up your yawn with one of their own, that’s good news! It suggests a special social and emotional connection that you are lucky to have with your pup.
The best way to understand the meaning behind your dog’s yawn is to carefully observe the situation. Are there stress-inducing factors present or is your dog simply trying to connect with you? As you build your relationship with your furry friend, their actions and intentions will become easier to read — good luck!