"Dogs yawn because they are tired" is a common misconception that owners have about their furry friends. In reality, there are numerous reasons why dogs yawn; it is the first expression that dogs learn and it has multiple meanings dependant on the situation, often linked to displacing inner conflict with neutral behaviour:
- Dogs yawn when they want to send a calming or pacifying message to humans, or fellow animals – no matter where in the world a dog is, all dogs know signals and as one yawns, the other will react.
- Frustration is often a reason for dogs yawning, perhaps during obedience lessons, or long walks. A way to overcome their frustration is by rewarding good behaviour with a treat, or a short break. That way your dog also knows that you are in control and taking on the role of pack leader.
- Do you sometimes need to take five minutes and let your brain wind down? Dogs do too. Yawning is a way of cooling off their brains, which can often get warm after lengthy periods of inactivity.
- After a visit to the beach, or trip to a friend’s house, dogs can become over excited or even uncertain if visiting somewhere they have never experienced before. If you notice your dog yawning a lot during these moments, this is often typical behaviour and not something to raise concerns.
- Anxiety and nervousness can also lead to continual yawning from your pup or dog. Ever noticed a yawn or two whilst your dog is getting clipped or tripped? What about when they make a dreaded trip to the vets? This is their way of signalling that they don’t feel comfortable in these situations and a way to alleviate the stress of the circumstances.
- Like humans, dogs can ‘catch’ yawns. When another person yawns, we often yawn right back. It shows that like humans, dogs have a capacity for empathy; it’s actually a very good thing if your dog catches a yawn or two!
- If you’re not giving enough belly rubs, tickles or strokes, your dog may begin to yawn. This is just a sign that they feel they need more attention. They often yawn just to pass time and to get their human to give them a little pat.