Yawning People Cause Dogs To Yawn?


Have you ever wondered if it is just a co-incidence when you yawn around your dog and your dog then yawns? The team at pups4sale have often wondered that ourselves. Now it seems there is some verification of our suspicions, with a study by the University of Tokyo confirming dogs yawn in response to their owner’s yawns.

Dof owners yawning makes their dogs yawn
Yawning owners = yawning dogs

Interestingly though, dogs were three times as likely to yawn when their owners yawned (compared to a stranger’s yawns) and five times as likely to yawn when people really yawned instead of opening their mouths in a fake yawn. In the opinion of The Daily Dog it just goes to show how perceptive our dogs are and how closely they watch our every move. When in our garden we often lightheartedly remark, “do you ever get the feeling you’re being watched?” Sure enough, even if our dogs are flat out, catching some rays, as soon as we attempt to move out of sight, the dogs are right behind us.

Most dogs owners know our dogs watch our facial and other non-verbal expressions closely, but the fact they can spot a fake yawn is truly impressive. The researchers in question think it may be due to the absence of noise when people pretend to yawn that is the giveaway. It would have been interesting therefore to see the comparative results if the researchers also had some people make noise when fake-yawning. We’d like to know what our readers find if they try this with their own dogs. Ours just sit there, rolling their eyes and nudging each other, thinking, “he’s lost the plot again…just be patient, humour him, keep wagging our tails and a frozen bone will appear shortly” – or words to that effect 🙂

The researchers also said dogs don’t “catch” yawns from other dogs; only people. In our experience however (and we suspect many other dog owners) this is not correct. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.


4 Responses to “Yawning People Cause Dogs To Yawn?”

  1. Tony

    This is a very interesting subject, as back in the 1990s research was done on “Why people yawn”. It is found that a yawn has NO value or effect on the human body. We DON’T yawn to build up needed oxygen for our bodies. The ONLY apparent reason dates back to Neanderthal man when vocabulary was limited and sometime silence was the safest method of preservation. It seems that we ‘yawned’ then to indicate a change in mode conditions. The leader would ‘yawn’ to indicate time to sleep and yawn again to indicate time to wake. Although it is nearly impossible to prove due to the period it seems to have evolved, then “I say” that the dog is ONLY proving the fact to a greater degree. Yawning in a command to change mode, ‘sleep’ or ‘wake-up and activate’. When waking we ‘yawn and stretch’ this adds to the wake up command AND DOGS DO THAT TOO. Watch them and you will see. So as the dog does not have a developed spoken language then the Neanderthal yawn has been passed down for thousands of years or more.

    The ONLY logical explanation I can devise.

    • pups4sale

      That is an interesting perspective from an Evolutionary Hypothesis viewpoint. Of course it is impossible to prove, being based on supposition and conjecture – but interesting nonetheless.Just like there is no chemical imbalance in the brain or body that is rectified by sleeping, leaving scientists puzzled as to what the reason for sleep really is, the actual reason behind contagious yawning may always be a mystery.

  2. Bernadette Kennedy

    I think it doesn’t matter what the scientific reason is. We know when we yawn we feel relaxed. So when any animal yawns they will feel relaxed.

    • pups4sale

      I don’t know about you Bernadette, but when I yawn it is generally a good indicator I am tired. I think the scientists who are behind the research in question probably do too! I think sometimes people can make things too complicated 🙂

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