Why Do Dogs Yawn?

It’s one of those questions like “What came first, the chicken or the egg?”  It’s a pretty elusive subject, and although we have many theories, no one really has a definitive answer.  We have, however, observed many significant things that give us some reasons and explanations as to why dogs yawn, but as to scientific evidence, we really have no idea.  Actually, no one really knows why anyone yawns, as yawning is actually a pretty common trait between animals, did you know that fish yawn too??  We have even seen a fetus in the womb yawn.  Scientists have looked into the role yawns play in everything from arousal to communication, to the regulation of temperature and respiration, but have not found any concrete answers.  So what we have right now is observation, and there are actually many consistencies in dogs that can be observed when they yawn.

Dog YawningEveryone yawns when they get tired.  We do, our dogs do, and many animals do.  This is a very common behavior in the animal kingdom, and when a dog gets up from a nice nap or are about to go take one, they will usually yawn first.  Another reason dogs will yawn is stress. Yes!  Dogs will yawn when they are stressed, or expecting stress, along with many other behaviors associated with stress; like lowering their ears or squinting their eyes and tensing up.  When you see a dog yawn in a non-sleep context, they are probably stressed out with something or are saying they have had enough of whatever it is they are doing.  So if a dog is yawning around a stranger or another dog, it is probably time to put some distance between them.  Yawning has also been known to be a contagious behavior.  Dogs can, and will, catch on to human yawns, and will frequently yawn if they see you do it.  This has been linked to the social behavior known as rapport, which is closely linked to the emotion of empathy.  So they yawn with

Yawning has also been known to be a contagious behavior.  Dogs can, and will, catch on to human yawns, and will frequently yawn if they see you do it.  This has been linked to the social behavior known as rapport, which is closely linked to the emotion of empathy.  So they yawn with you because they love you so much!  Dogs have even been shown in a study to yawn when they hear the sound of a person they know yawning, even when they are not present!  There is very strong evidence that dogs actually learn yawning as a social cue through us.  So the next time you see your dog yawning, consider the context and the rest of their body language, and you will probably be able to figure out why they are doing it.  So yawn on dog friends!