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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Susan P.
Susan P.3 years ago

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. :)

K S.
K S3 years ago

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

Terry V.
Terry V4 years ago


Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Mary Beth M.
MaryBeth M4 years ago

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.

Lev Sigal
Lev Sigal4 years ago

He is moved by your play I daresay.

Fi T.
Past Member 4 years ago

They need fresh air like us

Liling O4 years ago

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.

David V.
David V4 years ago

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.

Edgar Zuim
Edgar Zuim4 years ago

Interesting. Thanks for info.