Why do dogs yawn?

n the realm of human behavior and communication, the act of yawning is directly related to sleep cycles. We humans yawn mainly when our body asks us for a «rest» to recover its energy, or when we have just woken up and are still getting used to being awake. However, when we focus on the canine universe, we realize that there are many meanings of yawning in dogs. Therefore, when we want to know exactly why dogs yawn in certain circumstances, it is necessary to pay attention to their posture and behavior, as well as the stimuli and events that take place around them and that precede the yawning.

Why do dogs yawn

If you have always wanted to understand why your dog yawns, we invite you to continue reading this article where we will talk about the main causes of this behavior and when it is necessary to take some measure to preserve the well-being of your best friend and their bond with you.

We take this opportunity to anticipate that, many times, yawning in dogs occurs as a calming signal to avoid conflicts with you or with other individuals present in their environment. And this is a very good reason for you to get to know your furry’s body language better to optimize communication between you and promote a harmonious coexistence inside and outside the home. Shall we start?

How is the yawning in dogs?

Before talking about why dogs yawn, it is interesting to mention that yawning, both in humans and in dogs and other animals capable of performing this act, consists of involuntarily opening the mouth and carrying out a deep and prolonged inhalation of air. . When an individual yawns, a greater amount of air enters their body, consequently improving the oxygenation of the lungs and the brain, and helping in the functioning of all the cells of our body.

Yawning also implies an increase in heart rate and allows us to renew energy , and that is why we tend to yawn more frequently when we are sleepy or bored and need to «wake up».

In addition, recent studies propose that yawning would be useful to «refresh» the brain, since the act of yawning leads to expansion and contraction of the maxillary sinus, pumping more air to the brain and consequently reducing its temperature. This would suggest that also among humans the meanings of yawning and its importance for the balance of body and mind, would exceed those known up to now.

But back to how dogs yawn, we know that morphological differences between our species are obvious, but yawns in dogs look pretty similar to ours. We will see that our dog will open his mouth wide , making his eyes close totally or partially , and his tongue will protrude out of the mouth , and may even bend at the tip. Many times, canine yawns can also be accompanied by a slightly high-pitched sound , but not very loud.

However, depending on the context in which the yawning occurs and what our dog is trying to convey, we can observe other gestures, postures or vocalizations that accompany yawning and that, just like these, are non-verbal communication channels that dogs use to express their mood and interact with other individuals and environments. For this reason, yawning in dogs does not always occur in the same way and we will see more about this topic in the next section.

Why do dogs yawn?  - How is the yawning in dogs?

Meanings of yawning in dogs

Next, we tell you what signs you should pay attention to to understand why your dog yawns in different contexts:

Tired or lazy

Just like us, dogs yawn when they’re sleepy and need to rest , as well as when they wake up and still feel a bit sluggish. In both cases, you will see very obvious signs that your furry friend is not very active or playful, and will probably be more interested in the comfort of his bed or in sleeping with you than in the other stimuli and resources that surround him. Your demeanor should be quite peaceful and calm, with no sign that you are preparing for any kind of conflict or situation where you would need to be especially alert.

Also, if your furry has just woken up, you will almost certainly see him do a series of ‘stretching movements’ to stretch his muscles and prepare to fully enjoy the new day that is just beginning. 

Stress or discomfort

Another very common reason why dogs yawn is to show that they feel annoyed, uncomfortable or stressed when exposed to certain stimuli. In these «negative» circumstances, your furry dog ​​will perform certain gestures or behaviors to try to pacify the situation without the need to escalate it into a fight, and also to control the anxiety generated by being subjected to such stimuli.

This set of appeasing gestures and behaviors are known as » Calming Signals «, and knowing them will prevent multiple communication and coexistence problems with your dog. Keep in mind that, many times, you may not have any intention of annoying, stressing or scaring your dog. your dog, but, by not knowing body language and canine communication, you end up producing these negative emotions without realizing it.

For example, such simple things, like forcing your furry friend to be hugged or kissed , can cause great stress in your best friend, who will try to tell you » Please, stop! » in their language, using calming signals to «convince you » to stop doing something that doesn’t make you feel good without proposing direct conflict. So, if you’ve always wondered why your dog looks at you and yawns, or if you’ve always wanted to understand why your furry yawns when you scold him , now you know the most likely reason.

But, it is also important that you know that calming signals can appear in the interactions between two dogs and between a dog and another individual of any species. That is to say, they are not «tools» that the furry ones use exclusively to communicate with humans, but rather they consist of an inherent and very important part of canine nature. 

confusion or frustration

» Why does my dog ​​yawn when I talk to him? » is another very common question among dog tutors. And if you’re one of them, it’s important to know that your best friend will most likely be confused or even frustrated because they can’t understand what you’re trying to say or ask for when you’re talking to them . Again, these communication failures almost always occur when guardians do not have basic knowledge about dog postures and communication, so they do not know how to act in the best way to ensure that their furry ones clearly and objectively understand their intentions. and expectations when speaking to them.

A situation in which this usually happens is when a tutor decides to start presenting the basic obedience commands to his furry dog, but does not know very well how to carry out a canine training session, with the aim of promoting learning. and prevent the dog from feeling overwhelmed or demotivated by not being able to assimilate and reproduce what it is about teaching him.

Why is my dog ​​yawning a lot?

There are diseases and metabolic disorders that can both cause drowsiness or excessive tiredness, causing the dog to yawn very frequently because it feels weak or exhausted, or lead to increased stress levels in dogs, favoring the continuous or constant production of signs of calm, such as yawning, ears back, smugness and sidelong glances, among others.

In the latter case, it should be noted that a dog that lives anxious or stressed , that is, that suffers from a state of chronic stress, is also more prone to developing a pattern of destructive or even self-destructive behavior, by carrying out stereotypes that usually lead to to self-mutilation, such as the act of biting the legs or tail in a frenzied or obsessive manner. 

Furthermore, stress is one of the risk factors for a very complex behavioral problem, which is aggression in dogs. If you notice that your dog is yawning continuously, the first step will be to take him to the vet to rule out any underlying health problems and determine the need for treatment. And in the event that a pathological cause is not found, it is worth reviewing the routine and environment in which your furry lives to identify possible sources of stress and do the best possible to eliminate or control them.

My dog ​​can’t yawn, what do I do?

Yawning is a natural and healthy behavior for dogs, but this doesn’t mean they need to yawn a lot. In fact, when they have an active routine in an enriched environment and enjoy a bond with their tutors based on mutual trust and respect, they are more likely to yawn when they are sleepy or when they first wake up.

Actually, it is very rare that a dog cannot yawn for physiological or morphological reasons. Most likely, he has the need to do it infrequently and these few yawns can go unnoticed by his guardians, especially if the dog is the first in the house to wake up.

Likewise, if you are really suspicious that your dog cannot yawn at any time, or if you notice disturbances in his sleep and wake patterns, it is worth consulting a veterinarian to rule out any problems in the nervous system or the brain that, perhaps, be behind these difficulties. Let’s remember that self-medication is very dangerous, both for us and for our best friends, even when we talk about home remedies.

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