Does Your Dog Yawn When You Do?

Did you just yawn when you saw the picture of the dog yawning? Chances are you did! Yawning, for some strange reason, is contagious, as you probably just demonstrated for yourself. When humans see another person yawn, or even see your dog yawn, you are likely to involuntarily yawn as well.

But does this work the other way around? Does your dog yawn when he sees you yawn?

In humans, research shows that people who yawn in response to another person’s yawn seem to have better social skills than those who don’t. So does it work that way in dogs as well?

Dr. Brian Hare, founder of the Duke Canine Cognition Center located at North Carolina’s Duke University speculates in his book, The Genius of Dogs, that it’s reasonable to assume that dogs who yawn in response to their owners yawning are likely very emotionally connected to that owner. 

This observation is backed up by a study done at the University of Tokyo that looked at what happened when dogs looked at their owners yawning. Over fifty percent of the dogs who saw their owners yawn, also yawned.

But, when these dogs saw strangers yawning, the dogs yawned only half as much. 
So, if your dog yawns when you do, take that as a sign he’s emotionally connected to you. Now, time for a nap!

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By Ellen Britt

Dr. Ellen Britt has loved dogs since she was a child. She is particularly fond of the Northern breeds, especially Alaskan Malamutes. Ellen worked as a PA in Emergency and Occupational Medicine for two decades and holds a doctorate (Ed.D.) in biology.

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