One of the great things about sharing your home with a pet dog is watching the fascinating ways they behave.
Dogs do all sorts of things that their owners find interesting.
That’s why this site exists to answer people’s questions about their dog’s behaviors.
This post will look at why dogs yawn when you pet them.
And then look at some other reasons that can trigger canine yawning.
When humans yawn, it usually means the person is either tired or bored, but it’s more complicated for dogs, so let’s dive into the details…
Why Do Dogs Yawn When You Pet Them?
Dogs yawn when they are petted because dogs use yawning as a calming signal. As your dog relaxes and enjoys the petting, it will yawn to express its desire to relax even more.
An excellent way to think about your dog yawning when being petted is that it’s similar to humans sighing as they sit in a comfy chair.
They sigh because they are relaxed, and the act of sighing helps them relax more.
Another reason dogs might yawn as you pet them is they are tired and getting ready for a nap.
So you can rest assured that if your dogs yawn while petting them, it’s a good sign that your dog is happy and content.
NOTE – You might be interested to read this post about dogs pulling their ears back.
Precisely What is a Dog Yawn?
Yawning is an involuntary reflex where the dog will open its mouth wide and breathe a big breath of air into its lungs.
Dog yawning is the same process as human yawning; many other animals also yawn in the same way.
Other Reasons Why Dogs Yawn
Dogs yawn for a variety of reasons, not just tiredness or boredom. Here is a list of other reasons:
- Stress or Anxiety
- To Keep the Peace
- Canine Communication
Now let’s look at each of these reasons in more detail.
1. Stress or Anxiety
Dogs often yawn as a coping mechanism to help deal with higher-than-normal stress or anxiety levels.
Often if dogs are yawning due to stress or fear, they might express a little whining noise during the yawn.
If your dog is stressed, you should do your best to help them cope with it.
You can work on figuring out and reducing whatever is stressing them.
You can also help them cope better by giving them plenty of exercise, playtime, cuddles, and even by creating a quiet den for them to hide in.
Sometimes, dogs yawn due to excitement. By stretching their jaw muscles and taking in a big breath, they release some of their pent-up excitable energy.
If your dog is excited, the best thing you can do is take them outside and let them run around like crazy to burn off some of the excitement.
3. To Keep the Peace
Dogs don’t have the human ability to communicate verbally, so they rely on body language to communicate with other dogs and humans.
Dogs will yawn as an expression of submission to keep the peace if other dogs or humans are aggressive.
You will probably know that human yawns are contagious. If one person yawns, another will often find themselves yawning without realizing why.
The same can happen with dogs, canine yawns are contagious, and dogs can yawn after seeing another dog do so.
Just as with people, dogs often yawn when tired.
Please remember that your dog needs more sleep than you do, so do your best to let them get plenty of rest.
Getting enough sleep is essential for your dog’s mental and physical well-being.
6. Canine Communication
Dogs use yawning as part of their non-verbal communication with other dogs.
Yawns, growls, barks, eye contact, posture, proximity, and tail wagging, are all ways dogs can communicate with each and (to some extent) humans.
Like people, dogs will often yawn if they are bored.
If your dog is bored, please do your best to stimulate them. Cuddles walks, and play time are all great options.
NOTE – This video has more great info about dogs and their yawning habits.
Just click to start the video playing:
NOTE – You might also enjoy reading this post about why a dog huffs and puffs.
Should You Be Worried If Your Dog Yawns a Lot?
In most cases, if your dog yawns when they are being petted or just randomly, there is nothing to worry about.
However, if it happens a lot, it might be that your dog is suffering from high levels of stress or anxiety, and you need to do your best to address this.
But, as always, if your dog shows signs of being sick, in pain, or unhealthy, you should take them to the vet to get checked out.
If you are in financial difficulty and are worried about vet bills, this site lists helpful resources for charities to help you pay your bills.
(If you don’t live in the US, you can use Google to find similar help in your country, there is a lot of support out there for dog owners who are in difficulty).
What Should You Do if Your Dog Yawns When You Pet Them?
Unless your dog seems stressed, don’t worry about it at all. Instead, enjoy petting your dog and just let them act naturally.
Final Thoughts On Why Dogs Yawn When You Pet Them
Dogs yawn when being stroked and petted as an expression of calming down and feeling good.
It’s perfectly normal behavior and nothing to worry about. If anything, it’s a really good sign that your dog is happy!
NOTE – You might like to read this post if you want to learn about hyperventilation in dogs.
Tim is a proud, vetted, and experienced dog foster carer for a charity helping dog owners escape domestic abuse.
He has years of experience training and caring for dogs, both his own and other people’s.
He is an expert in canine behavior and is highly skilled in dealing with all dogs but specializes in the difficult ones that other people may struggle with.
When he isn’t fostering dogs, he is making friends with other people’s pups!