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Dog Speak: Yawning

There's a whole world of dog behaviors that most people don't know about. If you learn them, you can help your dog live her best life!


Today's post is about yawning.


Yawning is one sign your dog may be stressed!


Sure, dogs yawn when they are tired, just like people. If your dog just woke up from a mid-day siesta and she gives a big yawn, it's probably not stress. If she’s meeting a new person and she seems to ignore them, then yawns, she’s probably stressed!


The best way to tell if your dog is yawning from stress is to look at the rest of her body. Is she showing other signs of tension, or is she relaxed? Let’s use this spotted friend as an example:



Pro tip: Hugs are something primates enjoy. Dogs...not so much!

Hmm...this nugget is yawning and leaning away from the woman. (Someone decided it was a great idea to stand over this dog and hug her. How'd you like a hug like this from someone you just met?)


So, we see our dog yawn, and then what? We look at the rest of her body!


Here she is again. Notice how her body is tense, her ears are back, she's avoiding eye contact, and she is leaning away from the woman? This dog is giving tons of signs she's not comfortable.



This Dalmatian is being very tolerant, but not all dogs will take this stress. The more stressed they are, the more likely they'll resort to barking, snapping, or even biting.

When dogs are stressed, we can help them by removing the stressful thing or getting them out of the situation. (In this case, we'd find a way to quickly and politely stop this woman from hugging her.)


Lesson learned? Yawning can be one sign your dog is stressed. Look at her whole body to figure out if she really is, or if she just thinks you're a snooze!


For more subtle signs of doggy stress, check out the Ladder of Aggression! And stay tuned here for more Dog Speak posts!


#dogbodylanguage #dogstress #animalbehavior #dogbehavior


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© 2020 by Liz MacHaffie