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Why Does My Dog Yawn When I Pet His Head?

Have you ever noticed that every time you pet your dog on the head, you get an enormous dog yawn in return? It’s almost funny because you reach for a pet and before you know it the dog is yawning. It certainly makes you wonder if there is a reason for this dog yawning or whether your dog is yawning simply because they are bored or tired.

Understanding dog body language can help you to know what that dog yawning is all about. People will do well to understand why dogs yawn and whether or not your dog may be trying to tell you something when they are yawning.

humans ask why does my dog yawn when i pet his head?
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As humans, we often relate human yawns to reasons like tiredness or boredom with a certain situation but does it mean the same for dogs than it does for humans? Interestingly enough, a person yawning really is not the same as when a dog is yawning.

With that in mind, check out this information to understand why your dog is yawning and what people should do when their dog yawns.

We Think You’ll Like: Dog Behaviour

Dogs Get Excited

dogs get excited when i pet his head
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This sidebar is far different of a sign than what happens when humans are yawning. Your dog might actually be yawning to give you signals that they want something from you. That something is probably your puppy being extra excited that you are petting them or giving them attention.

You might notice a similar signal when you head out to the dog park or take steps to play with your dog. Whether it’s a pat on the head or a trip to the dog park, they are simply more excited than their little mouth can communicate so your dog may yawn to contain their excitement about anything and everything.

Calming Signals

dog yawns to appease or calm his owner
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Sometimes yawns are a dog body language that indicates a calming signal. When your dog yawns, this could be an appeasement gesture or calming signals from the dog who might be trying to calm someone or situations that are going on. This might even be a body language that is directed toward another dog as calming signals rather than towards someone.

If your dog upset you in some way, and your dog is yawning when you pet him on the head, it is most likely because he wants to calm and appease you. Dogs search for ways to relieve tension, particularly when it is focused on them.

Dogs that were in trouble and then get love from you might produce dog yawns because they are still trying to calm you in a way or because they are relieved that their person is mad no more. Animals can often sense conflict and this type of emotion so that is their answer to dealing with things.

Stress Signal

A stressed great dane yawns
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Your dog might have experienced a conflict or stressful situations and your pup might yawn as a signal of that stress to relieve the stress within their brain. For example, if you’re preparing for a trip to the veterinarian, a lot of dogs can pick up on such a situation and they use their mouth to give you a sign that they are nervous.

In this type of situation, the dog yawning will most likely last longer than the normal dog yawns like a tired yawn. You can pick up on other stressors as well for your dog to understand if a yawn is their way of communicating stress. Look for pacing, whining, licking, and maybe even drooling.

When dogs yawn because of stress, you can calm your dog by loving them and talking to them in a soothing manner.


If your dog is yawning when you pet them on the head, the yawn could be a sign of confusion. People can be confusing so don’t blame your dog if they don’t get it either! If you showed signs of irritation and now, you are petting your dog on the head, the yawn might simply be that your dog doesn’t understand.

A yawn might also come out from dogs during training or when you issue a command if your dog doesn’t really understand what you’re trying to tell them to do. Their yawn might also result from conflicting emotions.

Maybe you took your dogs favorite toy away from them and then they started yawning. This is more of a response from your dog so that they don’t do anything they know would get them in trouble in this situation. Your dog might have wanted to bite when you took that toy, for obvious reasons, but instead, they began yawning to divert the situation and give signals that they won’t attack the guilty person.

Other Reasons Dogs Might Yawn

dog yawns while at play with owner
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There are some other reasons that your dog might yawn when you pet them on the head but these give a good overview of what you might know or expect. Some other reasons that you might want to consider would be medical issues at play.

If you are noticing frequent yawning for unexplained reasons, there might be something else at play and it could be a good idea to talk to the vet about your dog yawning.

Check out some of these other dog yawning questions.

Related: Why is My Dog Panting and Restless

Why Does a Dog Yawn When You Cuddle Them?

a dog yawn when you cuddle them
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That sweet little yawn that you are seeing might just be a sign that your dog is happy. When people love on dogs and give them attention or cuddle with them, it makes them happy, and their body yawns in response to that happiness or excitement.

In this case, the yawn does not mean that you are boring your dog but rather that they are enjoying the situation. Yawning is a sign of happiness here so don’t stop petting them simply because they are yawning.

Do Dogs Yawn to Show Affection?

do dogs yawn to show affection
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Your dog might be yawning to show you love or affection. Remember that while when you search why people are yawning, you find that they are often tired or bored, with a dog it’s almost the opposite. Dogs have limited means of communication and their yawn is one of them.

That yawn communicates love, affection, and happiness in many instances so you can rest assured that your dog is simply soaking it up.

Are Dog and Human Yawns Contagious?

dog and human yawns are contagious
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You know how when you look at another individual yawning, it almost instantly makes you want to or need to yawn as well? Does it work the same way with a dog? Even though we often are yawning for different reasons, yawns can still be contagious between dogs and individuals.

Those yawns are absolutely still contagious and it actually can be cognizant of a bond between the two of you as well.


Don’t be alarmed if your sweet dog is yawning when you pet them or play with them. Take it from the author that this is really a symbol for you and most of the time it is a positive indicator. You will find times that this action might mean something different and those are often identifiable with nervous habits. However, for the most part, take that yawning action as a compliment and continue to love on your dog just as you were.

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