Leash and Learn Best NYC Dog Trainers Logo

Why do Dogs Yawn?

Any products mentioned have been tried, tested, and approved by Leash and Learn dogs and humans.

Items you buy through our links may earn us a commission.

Why do dogs yawn? Is my dog always tired? Why do dogs fake yawn?

In this post:

Why do dogs yawn? 

Is my dog always tired? 

Why do dogs fake yawn?

Why is my dog always yawning? Is he tired? 
Most of the time when presented with a dog who is yawning people say that the behavior is prompted by feeling tired. But, this is not always true! A dog who is curling up and ready for bed might be yawning because they are tired. In most other situations, however, there are different causes for their yawning.
Verified in multiple studies, the main cause for yawning in dogs is as a response to stress. If you pay attention to when your dog yawns, there is likely a pattern. For example, if your dog yawns every time you grab their harness, that indicates that your dog doesn’t like having their harness grabbed.
It has also been hypothesized that dog’s do contagious yawning like people do with each other. However, the results of multiple studies have been overall inconclusive. On a population level it has not been proven that dogs exhibit contagious yawning, but there have been some individual dogs who do. It has also been shown that there is an element of social-emotional, empathy based, and emotional connection factors that will contribute to whether or not the dogs yawn in response to the person’s yawn.

The Bottom Line:
You Might Also Like:
Learn what your dog's body language means. Leash and Learn's unique framework
Reading Your Dog: See Better, Know Better, Do Better

Download Leash and Learn's poster, Reading Your dog: See Better, Know Better, Do Better, Body Language. Our poster is a cheat sheet that will teach you how to read your dog's body language. This unique framework helps you understand and contextualize various changes in your dog's body language.

Do dogs feel guilty when they've done something wrong? Common dog body language myths busted
He Knows He's Guilty Right?

Decode your dog: when a dog is cowering in the corner after doing something naughty, does he know he did something wrong? What do you think?


Buttner, A. P., & Strasser, R. (2013). Contagious yawning, social cognition, and arousal: An investigation of the processes underlying shelter dogs’ responses to human yawns. Animal Cognition, 17(1), 95–104. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10071-013-0641-z

Casey, R., 2002. Fear and stress. In: Horwitz, D.F., Mills, D.S., Heath, S. (Eds.), BSAVA Manual of canine and feline behavioural medicine. British Small Animal Veternary Association, Dorset, UK, pp. 144–153.

Horowitz, A. (2009). Disambiguating the “guilty look”: Salient prompts to a familiar dog behaviour. Behavioural Processes, 81(3), 447–452. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2009.03.014

Kuhne, F., Hößler, J.C., Struwe, R., 2012. Effects of human–dog familiarity on dogs’ behavioural responses to petting. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. 142, 176–181.

Kuhne, F., Hößler, J. C., & Struwe, R. (2014). Emotions in dogs being petted by a familiar or unfamiliar person: Validating behavioural indicators of emotional states using heart rate variability. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 161, 113–120. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2014.09.020

Overall, K.L., 1997. Normal canine behavior. In: Overall, K.L. (Ed.), Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Small Animals. Mosby, St. Louis, USA, pp. 9–44.

Silva, K., Bessa, J., & de Sousa, L. (2012). Auditory contagious yawning in domestic dogs (Canis familiaris): first evidence for social modulation. Animal Cognition, 15(4), 721–724. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10071-012-0473-2

Taylor, A. M., Reby, D., & McComb, K. (2009). Context-Related Variation in the Vocal Growling Behaviour of the Domestic Dog (Canis familiaris). Ethology, 115(10), 905–915. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1439-0310.2009.01681.x

© Leash and Learn 2022

Still need help? Please reach out!

If you have made it this far and you still do not know who to hire or where to start, send an email to us at info@leashandlearnnyc.com, and we will help you. Include your zip code, your dog’s name, and what you need help with. Give us a few days but we will get back to you with some ideas


Related Articles