When we yawn, that’s typically a sign that we’re either bored or in need of a nap. There’s also a chance we’ll yawn if someone does it nearby.

For dogs, however, it’s a little more complicated. In fact, you might have noticed that you get a big, wide yawn when you pat them on the head for being a good boy or girl.

dog yawning

And why is that exactly? If you’ve been wondering, “Hmm… why does my dog yawn when I pet him?” Then don’t fret, we’ll answer this question and give you some interesting reasons why your pooch might be yawning outside of pets.

Dogs Yawn Because They Are Excited

You might think your dog needs a siesta when you pet him and he yawns. But it’s actually quite the contrary-- they’re yawning because they’re excited!

Since you’re showing so them attention and affection, they get filled with excitement. And a good ole yawn is a great way for them to release that pent-up anticipation. You might also notice a yawn before it’s time to go out for a walk or it’s time to eat.

If you take too long to do what they want, you might see them yawn more. That’s because they are getting impatient and want you to hop to it!

Dogs Yawn As A Calming Signal

On the opposite end, your dog might sense things are becoming too much to handle and want to show they want a calmer situation.

They use yawns to signify this. If you’re upset, you might see them tuck their tail and yawn. You’ll know for sure if see them giving you the “whale eyes” or averting their look in shame. You might also see this behavior when s/he meets a new dog and shows they are submissive.

If notice this happening while you are petting them-- and also trying to avoid your hand-- then it’s a good idea to stop. Each pup has its own personality, including likes and dislikes. Your dog might not like this. And this leads us right to our next reason…

Dogs Yawn Because They Are Stressed

If the yawn is intense and lasts for a good amount of time, then it might be a sign that your dog is feeling some stress.

Typically, dogs are sensitive to new environments, people, and situations. A good example of this is when it’s time for a check-up at the vet. Dogs are intelligent and pick up on this and you’ll notice the increased frequency of yawns.

You can try to calm your dog by giving them pats on the head (which might still elicit a yawn) and showing them love with cuddles and kisses-- treats also help too.

And some dogs have extreme reactions to stress and might run away if they aren’t leashed or in an enclosed area. You can relieve your own anxiety in these situations with the GPS collar from Fi. They provide real-time location data and 24/7 activity monitoring. To learn more, check out Fi website.

My black pug Toshi sleeping on his newly acquired Casper mattress bed.

Dogs Yawn Because They Are Confused

Sometimes, like when learning a new and difficult trick, our dogs can get confused. Heck, some dogs even get confused by animal-shaped floaties in the pool. However, you might notice some yawns pop out in these situations.

If this happens while you are petting them (you might see their head cock before or after), then it’s a good chance they might be confused as to what you are doing. They also feel confused when there’s a conflict of emotions in their little hearts.

As Dog Nerdz said, they might yawn to hold back a bite when you took their favorite toy. And they might also yawn if you’re giving out mixed emotions-- like being upset then switching to petting them.

Dogs Yawn Because It’s Contagious

Just like we yawn after seeing someone else do it, dogs fall victim to the contagious yawn too. DogsAndClogs refers to a study done at the University of Tokyo that showed dogs yawned when they saw us do it.

In addition to that, they also mimic you because they love you. Dogs bond tightly with their human companions. You will notice your dog copies nearly everything you do-- when you sleep, they sleep. If you’re upset, they’re upset.

Dogs Might Yawn From A Medical Condition

A yawn from a dog might signal an underlying health condition. However, these are commonly accompanied by other symptoms, like burping, vomiting, and/or diarrhea.

If you’re notice this or you are concerned about excessive yawning, then you should consult with your veterinarian. They will be able to give you the best advice concerning this situation.

Dogs Yawn When They Are Bored And Tired

Okay, we admit-- we threw a bit of curveball with the introduction. Dogs do yawn when they are bored and tired too, just like us!

This is the most obvious because they will likely fall asleep not long after. If they’re cuddling with you or laying on the couch, then there’s more chance the petting will put them in a relaxed state where they can rest.

And they’ll also do it if they are bored. For instance, if you work at home and your dog is around, you’ll notice some yawns while they stare at you-- waiting for you to play or give them some attention.

Final Thoughts

So, if your dog is yawning when you pet him, it’s not cause for alarm. It usually means they are excited, confused, bored, a little stressed, or just plain tired. And honestly, it’s quite cute and reminds us that our pups aren’t so different from us.

However, if you are concerned about the yawning, tell it to you vet and they will give you the best guidance for dealing with it.

The key thing to understand is our dogs use their body, faces, and emotions to communicate with us. So, it’s important for you to understand the messages they are trying to send us. The more you invest in learning their body language, the happier you and your pooch will be.