The answer to this might depend on your own observation of your dog. Some say a dog does this as a sign of stress. Others say a dog yawn is most definitely not a sign of stress. There is no single reason for yawning. It's a common behavior intended to stretch the mouth and throat after a period of inactivity. Or, the dog may be attempting to increase the oxygen supply to the blood. Or, the dog yawns as an expression of boredom or tiredness. Maybe it's all of these things at times.
What Is Yawning?
"a reflex act of opening one's mouth wide and inhaling deeply due to……"
"(of an opening or space) to be very large and wide."
Yawning is a widening of the mouth and throat, coupled with a deep intake of breath. Many animals, along with dogs, cats, horses, and humans, practice this interesting reflex habit. For example, snakes open their mouths wide to prepare their mouth, jaw, and throat for a large meal. They do not unhinge their jaws, as many people believe. Fish yawn too. Well, fish open their mouths as if they're yawning. And unborn babies, too!
Is Dog Yawning A Sign Of Anxiety?
Some symptoms of anxiety in canines are;
- Pacing or shaking; Your dog might visibly tremble when she is fearful.
- Whining or barking; The dog may bark. Barking is a well-known response to danger.
- Yawning, drooling, and licking; This might happen when the dog is worrying.
- Changes in expression; He might share his feelings; his eyes may become widened, his dog ears are flattened.
- Changes in body posture; The dog might cringe or prepare herself for flight.
- Shedding; Vet clinics are often full of dog hair shed from unhappy dogs.
- Panting. A way of cooling down, panting is also a sign of distress.
- Changes in bodily functions; A unhappy anxious dog might want to urinate more frequently.
Yawning, on its own, is not a conclusive sign of stress.
It happens after having a complete night's sleep. Your dog yawns to wake up and warm up his body and vocal cords.
Some say dogs yawn to show you that they feel anxious and threatened. This particular behavior is used by dogs when they are trying to avoid conflict. It may be a body language to share a relaxed posture with the aggressor to say, "chill out, no problem here, I am not worried."
Is Yawning Contagious Between Dogs, And Also Your Dog And You?
Several studies have concluded that yawns are contagious between humans and animals. One famous study, conducted by researchers at Tokyo and Kyoto universities and published in the U.S. science journal PLOS One in 2013, concluded that "contagious yawning" was a sign of empathy. It is another body language signal that all is well, it's time to relax.
Yawning is called oscitation and involves breathing deeply and stretching the jaw and sometimes the whole body. It is a reflex that can be triggered by fatigue, boredom, or watching the way someone else does it. The chemical neurotransmitters that are associated with tiredness, appetite, tension, and emotions include cortisol, nitric oxide, serotonin, dopamine, and glutamic acid. Scientists have found that certain medical conditions also affect cortisol levels. These include multiple sclerosis, stroke, and diabetes.
Because it is a matter of neurochemistry, there are several reasons yawns happen.
Psychologists Andrew Gallup and Gordon Gallup believe that dogs yawning helps improve blood flow to the brain. Stretching the jaw increases blood flow to the face, head, and neck, while the deep breath of a yawn forces blood and spinal fluid to flow downward and increases oxygen supply. This physical basis for yawning may explain why dogs and people yawn when they are anxious or stressed. According to the New York Times, many training skydivers say they yawn before jumping. This is not tiredness or boredom or anxiety. A kind of stress, it's preparing the mind and body for what is to come.
Cortisol is an important neurotransmitter associated with yawning. It is released by the pituitary gland, and cortisol levels rise when yawning. Cortisol is important in the control of sleep patterns. Lowered cortisol levels are associated with insomnia and fatigue. Higher levels will make you feel tired and share your yawns. New research has shown that some dogs can smell cortisol, and this triggers a reflex. A lot of research is being done to understand how these animals smell. It is understood that dogs can smell fear, stress, worry. Some canines are in training to smell depression. This is all based on the way that these clever animals can smell the hormones produced in response to emotional stimuli.
There are several reasons we may all show this behavior.
Real Reason For Your Animal's Yawn.
The reason is not merely that he is tired. Perhaps he wants you to relax and take five with him after training, and make sure you get the message that training is over for the day.
And just like us humans, dogs yawn to fill themselves up with oxygen to get ready for the excitement they know is coming. The opposite of that is also true. They will often yawn as a way to fill up with neurotransmitters that will help them overcome physical stress and anxiety.