People yawn when they are tired and sleepy, but what about dogs? Why do dogs yawn? Do they yawn only when they are tired or feeling sleepy? Is there any health issue underlining such behavior? Should an owner be concerned seeing his dog yawning? Let us find out.
Dogs yawn the same way as humans – with their mouths wide open while taking a big and deep breath. There is no denying fact that dogs look adorable when they do it. However, there are different possible reasons behind yawning by dogs and most owners are unaware of them. You may consider it as a sign of tiredness or sleeplessness and ignore the role of stress, environment, and behavioral instincts of your pet. A close observation of your dog over a period of time may reveal the real basis of his yawning.
Here are a few notable reasons explaining why dogs yawn.
Dogs yawn when they are tired or feeling hot
When your dog is tired after physically strenuous activities, he is likely to yawn. It was presumed that yawning was the body’s way to replenish oxygen supply in the brain after an exhausting activity. In this case, it is a natural reaction of his body and you should not be worried.
According to a study, yawning is a method to cool down the brain. You may see your dog often yawning in warmer rooms indicating an attempt to breathe faster to assist in the cooling of the brain. It facilitates the brain in the same way as stretching helps muscles.
Dogs yawn when they are stressed
Your dog feels uneasy during stressful situations, particularly when a stranger randomly approaches her or when a kid tries to hug her. Some dogs do not like hugs and the attention of other people. Your dog yawns to tell you and others around him that he is uncomfortable. The best thing to do is to take your dog away from an uncomfortable situation.
Dogs yawn to tell other dogs and people that they don’t want a conflict
Dogs sometimes yawn to avoid conflict. If a person or another dog approaches your dog, he may turn away from him and yawn. Yawning is dogs’ way of telling other dogs or people that he feels threatened but he is not going to attack.
Dogs imitate their owners yawn out of empathy
A 2013 study showed that dogs imitate their owners when they yawn to show empathy. The findings of the study led by Teresa Romero suggest that dogs are indeed connected emotionally to their owners. The researchers were able to establish that there was a difference between dogs’ stressed yawn and dogs’ empathic yawn – no change detected in the heartbeat when dogs yawn out of empathy.
The researchers also observed that the participating dogs yawn more in response to their owners’ yawns than strangers’ yawns. They also responded less to fake yawns, which suggests that dogs can somehow distinguish real yawns from false ones.
Researchers indicate that contagious yawning is a form of empathizing with people and imitate whatever they are feeling, including stress, exhaustion, or anxiety. So, do you think your dog cares for you? Yawn and find out!