Why do dogs yawn? Yawning is a form of communication for canines that has several meanings. A dog’s yawn has varying causes, depending on the situation he is in. Read on to discover what it means when your dog yawns at you.
1. Experiencing Stress
Stress is one of the most common factors that cause yawning in dogs. They turn to this behaviour when they are anxious or distressed as a way to calm themselves down.
“Why does my dog yawn so much in the car?” is commonly asked by pet owners. Travelling by car or any other mode of transport can be an unpleasant experience for some dogs, which causes excessive yawning
You may also like: What is Dog Travel Sickness and How Do You Desensitise It?
Other situations that may trigger anxiety and distress in pooches are meeting new strangers, vet check-ups, and exposure to loud noises. Stress yawns are very likely to spike up during these instances.
2. Contagious Yawning
Does a dog yawn always mean stress? No, yawning in dogs is not always caused by stress. At times, human yawns are simply contagious, even to our canine companions.
Dogs not only catch yawns from humans, but they can also yawn in response to a fellow furry friend’s yawning.
In humans, contagious yawning is related to showing empathy. Thus, some experts suggest that it is the same case for canines. They believe that dogs catch their owners’ yawns since they feel a certain level of sympathy for them.
However, the latest studies rejected this theory as there is no clear link between contagious yawning in dogs and empathy. Researchers concluded that the behaviour is not a reliable indicator of an animal’s empathy.
3. A Calming Signal
Dogs communicate with each other through body language. Yawning when confronted by an aggressor is a sign of appeasement. They want to communicate that initiating conflict is not their intention.
Whilst submissive canines are prone to this behaviour; dominant dogs can exhibit it too. They tend to yawn when facing a fearful or anxious pooch to express their deference and to avoid conflict.
In the wild, non-threatening behaviours such as yawning help wolves maintain a peaceful and harmonious pack.
Yawning in dogs meant for pacification is often accompanied by other calming signals. Studies show that pet dogs licking their lips and averting their gaze convey appeasement to their owners.
Other forms of body language such as wide open eyes, tail tucking between the legs, and exposing the abdomen are also ways of showing conciliation.
4. Brought on by Excitement
When our canine companions are overwhelmed by enthusiasm, they convey their feelings through yawning. Sometimes, this behaviour becomes excessive because dogs may find it difficult to contain their excitement.
However, excessive yawning in dogs gradually diminishes once they engage in the activity they have been looking forward to.
5. Enjoying Their Loved One’s Closeness
Many dog owners have been asking: “Why do dogs yawn whilst petting them?” and “Why do dogs yawn when you scratch them?” The simple answer to that is they find the presence of their human companions comforting.
So, if your dog feels contented around you, he will yawn to express his gratitude.
You may also like:
- How Do I Know If My Dog Loves Me
- Does My Dog Love Me? The 4 Conditions on How Dogs Choose Their Person
- 9 Cuddly Small Dog Breeds You Will Love
Another frequently asked question is: “Do dogs yawn when they are happy?” Yes, dogs do yawn when they are happy. One study shows that shelter dogs yawned more when petted by their handler and exhibited more relaxed body language.
In another research, it is observed that dogs yawn more often when around familiar dogs than the ones they do not know.
Vets have also noted that dogs display increased yawning and lesser signs of stress when their owners are present during routine physical exams.
Hence, they recommend pet owners accompany their canine companions during vet exams whenever possible.
6. Confusion and Boredom
Yawning in dogs may frequently occur during training sessions. Canines carry out this behaviour when they are unsure how to perform a certain command. If the training session is not engaging enough, dogs will also keep yawning as a sign of boredom.
You may also like: 5 Ways to Keep Dog Boredom Away Whilst You Are Out
7. Need to Get a Shut-Eye
In some cases, the cause of yawning in dogs is pretty straightforward: sleepiness. Spending a good deal of time playing or participating in fun activities with their human companions can leave dogs tired and in need of sleep.
If your dog yawns a lot after an exhaustive exercise or playtime, tuck him to sleep.
You may also like: 11 Sleeping Dogs That Want to Catch More Zs
8. A Symptom of Illness
Why do dogs yawn and whine? Canine ailments often cause behavioural changes in dogs due to the discomfort they bring. Excessive yawning accompanied by loud, persistent whining can potentially signify that a dog has fallen ill.
“Why does my dog yawn when I rub her belly?” is one of the top questions asked about yawning in dogs. Whilst yawning could simply indicate that your dog enjoys getting his belly rubbed, another possible reason is he has a painful stomach.
You may also like:
Many pet owners also wonder: “Do dogs yawn when nauseous?” Yes, dogs yawn when they are feeling nauseous. Other symptoms pet owners need to look out for are lip licking, hypersalivation, and appetite loss. They commonly occur just before a nauseous dog vomits.
4 Tips to Reduce Yawning in Dogs
Seeing your pet dog constantly yawning might make you worry if something is wrong with him. Fortunately, there are certain measures that you can do to mitigate this behaviour, such as:
- Observe your dog’s surroundings and identify the stressors that are distressing him. Keep him away from these triggers to ease his anxiety and reduce stress yawning.
Desensitise your pooch in these situations as it will be beneficial for him in the long run.
- Canine anxiety can be alleviated by having a good exercise regime. So the next time your dog keeps on yawning due to stress, take him out for a walk or playtime.
Generally, most pooches require an hour of physical and mental stimulation. Those with high energy levels may need 2 or more hours of exercise.
- Provide a safe space for your dog whenever he feels tired or overwhelmed. Choose a room that is far away from indoor foot traffic and less exposed to outside noises.
Do not forget to bring along his favourite toys to help him relax and unwind.
- Consider using dog-appeasing pheromones to ease your dog’s restlessness. Holistic methods such as adding calming CBD oil to his meals or diffusing dog-safe anxiety-relieving scents like chamomile, frankincense, and myrrh are good options too.
You may also like: What Essential Oils Are Safe for Dogs and Which Ones Are Toxic?
Know When to Seek Help
Is your dog yawning excessively even after trying all the tips we have shared above? Time to consult the vet to rule out potential diseases that are triggering this behaviour.
If there is nothing wrong with your dog’s health, it would be best to reach out to a professional canine behaviourist. They will work with you to pinpoint the underlying cause of your dog’s excessive yawning and teach you ways to resolve the issue.