What Are The Different Meanings of Dog Yawns?

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Adults do it, babies do it, heck, even dogs do it. What am I talking about? Yawning, of course!


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Of course, no one is a mind reader, but have you ever wondered what your dog is thinking when he yawns? Maybe he thinks you talk too much? Or maybe he is tired from a long day of play and zoomies at the park? Or maybe he is overwhelmed by all the action going on at home?


Whether your dog is anxious, indifferent, or having himself a contagious yawning fest, what does it mean when a dog yawns?

What does it mean when a dog yawns?

According to the American Kennel Club not all dog yawns are created equal, so there could be many reasons why your pooch is yawning.


A dog may yawn to show indifference when facing a more aggressive canine. According to AKC, a dog will do this as a sign of pacification to show he is not interested in any conflict.


Calming signal

Yawning can also function as a calming signal used by dominant dogs. According to AKC, a dominant dog will yawn to a show a lack of concern towards any anxious, less dominant dogs.

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Yawning can often indicate anxiety and stress in dogs, but if your furry friend yawns, don't assume he is stressed just yet. Look for hints in his body language that indicate an anxious canine According to ASCPA, yawning and lip licking accompanied with a whine can be an early sign of stress in dogs.

If my dog yawns, does that mean he's stressed?

Not necessarily. There are several different reasons for a dog to yawn, whether it be due to stress, contagious yawning, to show indifference when facing a more aggressive canine, or to send a calming signal to less dominant pack members. Although yawning is one way to identify if your dog is stressed, there are many indicators that can help you determine whether or not you have a stressed puppy on your hands.


Signs of stress in dogs

There are many signs of stress in dogs besides yawning. According to VCA Hospitals, here are some signs of stress in dogs to watch out for.

  • Pacing or shaking
  • Whining or barking
  • Yawning, drooling and licking
  • Changes in eyes and ears. (like dilated pupils, rapid blinking, or pinned back ears)
  • Changes in body posture or body language
  • Shedding
  • Panting
  • Changes in bodily functions
  • Sniffing the ground
  • Licking of genitals
  • Refusal of food
  • Digging
  • Hiding


If your dog is consistently displaying these signs of stress, you may want to take him to see your local vet. If there is not a medical cause for his stress, you may also consider taking him to a trainer or an animal behavioral therapist to evaluate the situation further and ensure your canine is happy and healthy!

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Are dog yawns contagious for humans?

Yes! Dog yawns are contagious for humans. Just as yawning can be contagious between humans, contagious yawning can be actually be a thing between dogs and humans too. According to National Geographic, contagious yawning occurs most frequently in humans as an empathetic response to their loved ones. So, since your pupper is a loved one, you can definitely find his yawn contagious.



Your dog's yawn can tell you a lot about his mood, dominance and well-being. A dog may yawn due to stress, to show indifference when facing a more aggressive dog, or to send a calming signal to less dominant dogs. When determining the meaning of your dog's yawn make sure to observe his body language and the situation at hand. As always, if you have any urgent questions or concerns regarding your dog, be sure to contact your veterinarian.