Having a dog is such a blessing. There’s a reason a dog is man’s best friend; after all, who else gives us unconditional love, tail wags, and sloppy kisses?
However, having a pup raises a lot of questions. For instance, why on earth does my dog yawn so much?
What does a dog yawning look like?
Dogs’ yawns look much like our own, and they are involuntary like ours are. Jaws open wide, and they take a deep breath. Often, a dog’s yawn accompanies a high-pitched whine which, let’s face it, is adorable.
Is a dog yawning all of the time normal?
Yes, a dog yawning is perfectly normal, and some dogs do so more than others. You can watch your dog’s yawning patterns to determine why he is yawning and what is natural for him.
Why is my dog yawning so much, though?
Humans generally yawn when they are tired or bored. There could be many reasons for yawning with dogs, which is why it seems they do so much more than us.
Reasons Why Dogs Yawn
Experts have many theories about dog’s yawning, some of which are physical while others are behavioral. We used to believe that yawning was a sign the brain needed more oxygen. Yet, scientists now believe it is not as simple as that. For instance, people and dogs alike often yawn in warm rooms or environments, which points to yawning acting as a cooling system for the brain and body, as the cooler blood from the lungs travels to it and the extremities.
Yawn may also mean that our pooch is trying to tell us something. As a method of communication, it is up to us to determine what they are expressing.
Furthermore, a dog may yawn because she is anxious or stressed, like at the vet’s office. Likewise, this may occur when the animal is introduced to new people, places, or other animals.
To determine if your dog is yawning because she is stressed out, look for these other indicators:
- Averting her gaze
- Dog drooling a lot
- Muscle tension
- Tucked or lowered tail
- Wide eyes
If your dog is showing signs of stress, it is best to try to diffuse the situation by redirection. For instance, use a command she knows well, give her praise, walks her away from the problem, or engage her with a game she loves, like fetch.
Dogs may also yawn during activities we would consider pleasurable, like hugging – some dogs don’t like it. Other times, a dog may yawn when we scold them. Some other common reasons for a dog’s yawning include:
Avoiding conflict: Your pup may yawn around another dog as a way of saying, “I don’t want any trouble.”
Yawning is contagious: We all know that seeing someone else yawn often triggers us to do the same. This behavior is known as empathetic yawning (1), and dogs often do it when they see their owners yawn. Studies have shown this occurs when the dog bonds with a person; if a stranger yawns around them, they do not reciprocate.
They’re tired of waking up: Like us, dogs yawn and whine when they are worn out. Stretching the facial muscles helps them relax. Conversely, when they wake up from a nap, a nice, satisfying yawn can help get them going.
Something exciting is about to happen: Dogs know when something fun is about to happen and may yawn in anticipation. You may pick up his leash, a favorite ball, or put on the shoes you always take him for a walk-in. Adventure awaits, and he just can’t contain himself!
Confusion: A dog’s yawn can be a way of expressing they don’t comprehend something. Often, this type of dog yawn will occur during an activity like obedience training. New commands may cause stress, as your pup isn’t sure how to make you happy. It is, therefore, best to sprinkle in ones that he knows, like sit, with plenty of praise when teaching a new command. For compound commands, in which he is expected to do more than one thing, break them down into each step, and offer treats when he complies. Try to follow his pace of learning to avoid triggering a stress response.
Boredom: Yes, dogs can get bored. Imagine you are out for a walk and suddenly stop your pup from exploring the big wide world to have a long chat with your neighbor. That’s not very thrilling for Fido, is it? You may get a bored dog yawn in response; it is his way of saying, “hurry up, there are so many more exciting things to do!”
Uncomfortable situations: Dog yawns often occur when they are uncomfortable with something in their daily life that they cannot get away from. For example, the places where dogs like to be pet differ, and some animals hate being pet on the head. You may receive a head dip and irritated dog yawn in response. If your dog does this, try giving him a treat when you pet him so he understands it is a good thing. This reinforcement is often necessary for rescues who were abused.
Medical issues: If your dog yawns longer than usual or stretches and burps accompany the yawning, there may be a medical reason, like abdominal pain. This behavior may require a trip to the vet’s office.
Dog Yawning FAQ
Should I stop my dog’s yawns?
Just as we cannot stop ourselves from yawning, a dog yawns should not be considered something problematic that needs to be stopped. Dog yawns are generally nothing to be concerned about.
When should I be concerned about dog yawns?
Yawning is perfectly normal, and you will learn what is usual for your dog. Pay close attention to body language such as your dog’s ear positions. If you notice he is yawning more than average, or other signs of distress accompany the dog’s yawning, try to determine why. Is there a new stressor in the home? For instance, has his living situation changed, or is there a new animal in the house? Is he getting enough exercise and fun time? Has his schedule changed? All of these could cause a dog to yawn more frequently.
Any of these can cause an increase in yawning. If that is the case, try to make the situation less stressful, give him more exercise and playtime, etcetera. However, if none of the above are true, you may want to make an appointment with your veterinarian to rule out any medical causes. Nonetheless, sometimes a yawn is just that, and he may just be bored or tired!
Why does my dog always yawn when I pet him?
Some dogs do not feel comfortable when they receive pats or loving scratches, especially on the top of their head or around their neck area. They may crouch down and yawn in response. If you have a rescue, the animal may have been abused and could be scared. Or, he may just not like it. Try using a calming signal, like rewarding him with a dog treat, so he associates loving pats with goodness.
Do dogs yawn when they are happy?
Dogs yawn for many reasons, and excitement is one of them. If you notice your dog yawning when you pick up her leash or ask her if she wants to go for a ride, then you can safely assume that is a happy yawn.
Is yawning a sign of pain in dogs?
A dog yawning may be a sign of physical distress. If your dog seems to be yawning more than usual and her yawns are accompanied by excessive whining, drooling, panting, or other signs of distress, it could be a sign of pain. In this case, you will want to make an appointment with your vet.
Is it bad if my dog yawns a lot?
It is generally no cause for concern if your dog seems to yawn a lot. He could be yawning for an innocuous reason, like being bored or tired. He could also be excited. However, he may be yawning because he is stressed, anxious, or in pain.
It is imperative to be tuned in to your animals, so you can determine when something is off. If you think your pup is stressed out, try removing the stressor or redirecting the dog’s attention, like taking him out for a walk or playing fetch. If it seems he might be in pain, try to determine what type of pain it is and make a vet appointment. While a dog’s yawn is often typical, it is better to be safe than sorry if you believe there is a reason to be worried.
Final Thoughts on Why Does My Dog Yawn So Much:
A dog’s yawns are generally involuntary, natural behaviors, just like ours. The longer you have your pup, the more you will know what is normal for her and what is not. Paying attention will go a long way in alleviating your fears that something is wrong, whether yawn-related or not.