Why Do Dogs Yawn?

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yellowsarah/iStock via Getty Images / yellowsarah/iStock via Getty Images

Yawning is one of the most adorable dog behaviors, right behind tilting their heads and putting their paws on you. But a big yawn doesn't necessarily mean your pup is ready for a nap. Though yawning is a sign of drowsiness in humans, it may indicate stress in your canine companion.

According to the American Kennel Club, dogs sometimes yawn as a way to calm down. Next time you see your dog yawning excessively, assess the situation they're in. Maybe your dog is frustrated trying to learn a new trick, or anxious about a visitor in your home. They can also become overstimulated by things they enjoy, such as playtime or the prospect of a walk. A good yawn, canine behaviorists say, may help dogs regulate their mood.

Yawns can be a form of communication in times of stress as well. If your dog is struggling with a game or training session, a yawn may be their way of telling you they need a break. In some scenarios, dogs may yawn as a way to diffuse conflict. If your pet yawns in the presence of a new dog or person, they may be signaling that they're not a threat.

Of course, not every canine yawn is connected to uncomfortable interactions or feelings. Dogs that yawn around bedtime or when waking up from a nap probably are just sleepy. An isolated yawn during the day is also nothing to worry about. But if you see your dog yawning multiple times in a short period, pay attention: They may be trying to tell you something. Here are more common dog behaviors and the meanings behind them.

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