That little puppy yawn can be the cutest, can’t it? Don’t know if you’ve ever been curious about why dogs yawn, but it’s what we’re getting into in this article. Is it for the same reasons that humans do? Do dogs yawn when they’re tired, or are they trying to tell us something else?

If the age-old question of ‘why do dogs yawn?’ has piqued your interest, you’ve come to the right place. We hope to keep your attention and keep you from yawning by explaining why dogs yawn, why your dog may be tired, and the types of stress that may be causing your dog to yawn. We’ll also go over how to get your puppy to sleep well, how to prevent stress in dogs (and reduce yawning!), and when to be concerned about your dog’s yawning.For a dog training app that won’t get you yawning, download the Zigzag app.

We don’t just deliver an easy-to-follow personalised puppy training programme, but our team of professional dog trainers will be happy to help you out on any hiccups you run into 7 days a week.

young puppy yawning
Photo by Daniel Lincoln on Unsplash

Why Do Dogs Yawn?

You might assume that dogs yawn because they are tired, just like humans. While this is generally true, yawning is a common canine body language sign too. Keep reading and find out what dogs are telling us when they yawn.

Dogs yawn because they’re tired

When humans are tired, they yawn to get more oxygen in. Dogs do a similar thing, and it typically happens when they’re tired.

Dogs yawn because they’ve just woken up

When dogs wake up, they frequently stretch and yawn. This type of yawn not only increases the amount of air they breathe in, but it also allows them to stretch their facial muscles

Stress can make a dog yawn

Yep, a yawning dog can often mean a stressed dog. Stressful situations, like out on the street in heavy traffic or being too close to another dog, can make them respond by yawning.

Noisy appliances like dishwashers and washing machines can also make them feel stressed and yawn.

Dogs yawn as an appeasement gesture

Appeasement gestures – often called calming signals – can be a way for a dog to communicate that they’re not threatening to others. This is commonly seen when your dog feels worried about another dog or person approaching, so they yawn as a way to deflect an attack.

You’ll also see them turn their head and avert their gaze. Dogs are very good at avoiding conflict by communicating in this way. Maybe you should learn their ways next time you run into trouble in your own life. Learn more about this in our body language article.

Why is my dog so tired?

If your dog seems exhausted or has been sleeping more than usual, there’s usually a good reason behind it, like a play-date with their doggy friends or after they’ve done a heavy exercise session at the park. They may also appear listless, and being tired can signify that your dog is ill.

You have a young puppy who needs a lot of sleep

Puppies need to sleep a lot more than you might realise at first. Trust us. You’ll be shocked!  Some even almost fall asleep standing up, so you can’t be surprised if they yawn now and then. 

Our full guide to puppy sleep habits has a lot more information about how much your puppy will need to sleep. It’s interesting, we promise – nothing that will make you doze off.

Your dog has had a lot of exercise

If you’ve been to the park with your dog and their canine pals playing endless games of fetch, you bet they’ll be tired when they get back home.

If you’re one of those who enjoy long hikes on the weekend or walks in the hills, all of the physical and mental exercises will make your dog tired too.

You’ve been doing a lot of training

Learning is tiring, you’ll know that from your days at school! That problem-solving can be mentally taxing for a dog, so it’s no wonder they’re snoozy after a training session.

You have a senior dog

Senior dogs are generally less active and thus may appear more tired than their younger whippersnapper counterparts.

You have a breed of dog who likes to sleep a lot

Some breeds like Greyhounds and Whippets, Chow Chows, Basset Hounds and Bulldogs, generally have higher sleeping requirements and simply love to sleep.

Your dog might be stressed or anxious

As you know, from worrying about the elections, spending a lot of the time worrying about a situation is mentally exhausting. If your dog is worried about something, it will probably drain them, and bedtime is what they’ll be craving.

Your dog might be bored

Bored dogs are sleepy! You’d think it would be the opposite, but if your dog is bored, they can sadly get depressed and feel unenthusiastic to do much except sleep.

Your dog might be dehydrated

If your dog isn’t drinking enough water or you’re in a hot climate, then dehydration can cause them to be tired. If you’re living somewhere warm, we’re also slightly jealous.

Your dog might be anaemic or have a parasite

Roundworms, hookworms, and other gross types of worms can all cause anaemia as they feed off your dog’s blood. Fleas can also cause anaemia if there is a serious infestation. These are all disgusting things, and we hope that with our guidance, you’re able to get rid of them quickly.

Your dog might have another illness

Other illnesses such as Hypothyroidism, Kennel Cough, Parvovirus and Leptospirosis (just to name a few) can make your dog tired as their body is busy fighting infection. Make sure your puppy or dog is up to date with their vaccinations to help spare them from having to go through a hard time.

dog yawning on grass
Photo by Eduardo Gorghetto on Unsplash

Why might my dog be stressed?

We know that yawning can be a dog communicating they’re stressed, and stress in dogs can happen for many reasons – emotional, from feeling pain or illness. Let’s look at these more closely:

A change in routine can cause stress

Dogs are creatures of habit. Routines can help them become more confident and find their own flow and glow – by building up something reliable they can depend on.

Stressed about other dogs

Not every dog is a social butterfly. Some are picky about who they feel comfortable hanging out with, and newcomers that enter their circle can make them feel overwhelmed and stressed. It’s kind of like in primary school, and a new kid showed up in the classroom. Pretty nerve-wracking, especially if they were cool.

A fear or phobia will cause stress

Yawning when left alone is one sign that your dog may be struggling with separation anxiety or that you’ve left your puppy alone for too long. Fireworks, thunderstorms, loud traffic and vet visits can all be stressful for your dog.

Learning can be stressful

If your dog yawns during a dog training session, this can be a sign that they’re frustrated or confused. Make sure you use plenty of positive reinforcement training to help your dog find learning fun on their way to adulthood.

How to stop my dog from yawning

Now that we’ve examined why dogs yawn, let’s try to prevent whatever source of stress they’re experiencing from occurring and ensure they get enough sleep. Ultimately, we want your puppy to be calm and zen like.

How to make sure your dog is getting a good night’s sleep

  1. Choose your dog a comfortable bed – make it nice and cosy so that they’re sure to get 40 winks.
  2. Create a nice and dependable bedtime routine. Here’s a simple example: Make sure to empty their bladders with a trip to the toilet before bed, give them a light snack to prevent the early morning bile build-up, and a bedtime story. Because why not.  
  3. Keep the room nice and dark. Blackout blinds work well for early risers, just like they do with people. That way, you can avoid getting into a case of ‘’If I’m up, everyone else needs to be’’.
  4. Use a white noise machine if noises outside keep your dog awake. White noise machines are great at muffling outdoor noises like wildlife and rainfall, helping create an ambient sound that’s dependable and easy to fall asleep to. You should try one yourself. We hear loads of humans say great things about them. 

How to prevent stress in dogs

  1. Remove stressors – help them with their fear of fireworks, being left home alone, or having their nails cut by easing them into it when they’re young. A good behaviourist will also be able to help you with this, besides our great guidance, of course.
  2. Improve their day-to-day activity – You know the drill; play with them, take them for walks, go swimming and have enough fun to tire them out.
  3. Use enrichment toys to help them dodge boredom and keep them busy. 
  4. Train with positive reinforcement training, and teach them that learning new things is very much to their advantage, packed with plenty of rewards and treats
  5. Feed them an appropriate diet – whether you choose to raw food, home cook, or feed them with the traditional commercial wet or dry dog food, ensuring they have the correct nutrition will reduce stress, improve overall health and help your dog live longer. Who doesn’t want that?

Make sure they’re getting enough sleep! You know the feeling of wanting to bite anyone that crosses your way when you’re exhausted, right? Lack of sleep will make a dog stressed or irritable as well, which will in turn, make them quite bitey.

pug yawning in bed
Photo by charlesdeluvio on Unsplash

Should I be worried if my dog keeps yawning?

If you have a dog who keeps yawning, it’s a good idea to keep a diary. Take note of how much your dog is sleeping and what they do daily, and see if you can pinpoint what’s making them yawn. 

For example, a diary might be able to tell you whether they’re not getting enough sleep or if that kitchen appliance of yours is making them worried. 

If you’re worried about the amount of yawning your dog is doing, then it’s also a good idea to consult your vet. They’ll likely check for other signs of pain, injury or illness, as well as ask you about your dog’s behaviour to see if they can find the cause of stress.

If you think it has to do with something behavioural, it’s worth contacting a qualified behaviourist who will help you understand your dog’s yawning and how to reduce it as well. A behaviour modification programme will also tell you about other things they may be stressed with.

We hope you’ve made it to the end of this article without yawning too much! It’s pretty straightforward, right? Yawning is often just your dog being tired, or waking up from a snooze. It can also be a pretty clear body language signal that they’re uncomfortable with something or someone. 

Make sure they’re getting enough sleep, try to improve their mood, and remove stressors with our helpful tips. See a vet if you’re worried but read our article on visiting the vet to ensure that your dog is happy to go there – we don’t want to add to their stress and make them yawn even more, do we?! Did you know you can download the Zigzag app right away to speak with our qualified dog trainers about your yawning concerns? It’s literally like having a dog trainer on speed dial. In the app, we have a personalised training programme that will help reduce your dog’s stress, get them to sleep, and much more to help prevent them yawning in future.