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Why Do Dogs Yawn? (with video)

This might seem like a silly question. It’s easy to assume that dogs yawn for the same reasons we yawn… they are either tired, bored, or are trying to take in more oxygen. However, that is often not the case.

Have you ever seen a dog yawn when he’s at a cross walk with traffic zooming by, or when he’s sitting alone in a corner at a dog shelter? That’s because yawning can often be a stress signal for dogs. It is very common for a dog to yawn right after he is yelled at or a collar correction is administered from his handler holding the leash. (Stress is only one of many reasons that leash corrections are never advised by positive reinforcement dog trainers.)

While I record music specially designed to calm dogs and hopefully make them yawn because they are sleepy, Sanchez and Gina experience the full range of my concert repertoire. In addition to the slowed down, simplified classical arrangements on the calming Through a Dog’s Ear recordings, I am often practicing music that is loud, fast, and lively.

In this video of me playing the introduction to Chopin’s Revolutionary Etude, Sanchez is sitting near my side at the piano, looking like he’s either ready to turn the pages (if there were any to turn), is preparing for a nap under the piano, or he’s giving a stress signal. What do you think his yawn means at :08 seconds into it? Thanks for sharing your thoughts in a comment below?

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Delivering Calm, four paws at a time…

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Lisa Spector

Lisa Spector is a concert pianist, Juilliard graduate, and canine music expert. She is co-founder of Through a Dog's Ear, the first music clinically demonstrated to calm the canine nervous system. Their new high-tech pet gadget, iCalmDog, is the portable solution to canine anxiety. Lisa shares her home and her heart with her two "career change" Labrador Retrievers from Guide Dogs for the Blind, Sanchez and Gina. Follow Lisa's blog here.

95 comments

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11:26AM PDT on Apr 10, 2014

Dogs and humans yawn when they don't understand something. Check it out. You will see that if you come across a word that you don't understand (you don't know the definition of the word) or a passage that doesn't seem to make sense to you for any reason, you will yawn. I think it's basically a stress response. Very predictable in humans and dogs and my cat reacts this way when he can't imagine what I'm saying to him. :)

6:04PM PDT on Apr 9, 2014

I don't know why he's yawing, but he's so cute! The look on his face makes me chuckle! So 'honest'/authentic. And such nimble fingers. Wish I could play like that!! Thanks Lisa & Sanchez, lol'ing

6:58PM PDT on Aug 12, 2013

thanks

4:48AM PDT on May 31, 2013

thanks for sharing :)

4:28PM PDT on Apr 6, 2013

Yawning in dogs is definitely a sign of stress, anxiety-certainly anyone who observes a dog's behavior can glean that; does not involve direct verbal communication. Dogs also yawn when tired or in response to their owner's yawns, much like people. You can gain a lot of information from your dog by watching his behavior and cues, many of which are subtle, before they actually escalate. Dogs can tell us a lot without ever using words. You just have to be willing to listen.

2:45PM PDT on Apr 6, 2013

He is moved by your play I daresay.

6:06AM PDT on Apr 6, 2013

They need fresh air like us

1:56AM PDT on Apr 6, 2013

Just like us human, dogs also gets
tired or sleepy at certain parts of the day.Besides they are very light sleepers, their sleep tends to get interrupted easily.

8:51PM PDT on Apr 2, 2013

My dog yawns when she wakes up or when sitting on the couch so I cannot believe that is a stress signal.....she is definitely not stressed out...she is a princess.

8:21AM PDT on Apr 1, 2013

Interesting. Thanks for info.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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