Why Do Dogs Make Noises When They Yawn

Common
Normal

Introduction

Yaaaaawwwwwwnnnnn! It's such a satisfying feeling to just give in and indulge in a hearty yawn. Rarely do humans have sounds that accompany their "lung stretches," but our dogs are an entirely different matter. It's not uncommon to hear a few yowls or silly noises when our dogs let loose in a yawn. What's the noise all about? Since this is more of a canine phenomenon than a human one, we struggle to understand it. What we do know for certain is that the behavior is very endearing. We can't help but smile when our ears catch the tune of a happy yawn emanating from a nearby room. Are our dogs trying to tell us something with their yawn-accompanying noises? What's the logic behind all the racket? By carefully considering this unique canine behavior, we can come to some interesting conclusions. Is Fido just really tired, or is he having fun exploring the unique sound effects of the canine vocal range? Is there more to the noisy canine yawn?

The Root of the Behavior

Since our dogs' primary mode of communication is via mouthing, pawing, and sounds, it is highly likely that the noises that accompany a yawn are meant to convey a message. Interpreting the motives behind the message can be more challenging for us to discern. The truth is, yawning noises can be indicative of a lot of different things. For some dogs, a yawn is their version of a vocal stretch. They yawn, and the ensuing sounds help them to warm up their vocal cords and provide a welcome release for them. These types of yawns are more common after a full night's sleep when the body and the barker have been in "hibernation" mode for many hours. It is your dog's attempt to "wake" things up and get ready for the day. Some dogs adopt yawning noises as a means to gain their owner's attention. Our ears are naturally attuned to pick up on sounds, and our dogs quickly learn that the quickest way to gain an audience with us by making noise. 

Since yawning can be borne out of fatigue, it is safe to assume that our dogs making yawn-accompanying sounds when they are seeking extra cuddle time or affection from us. These sounds are rarely hard on the ears; they are just enough to alert us to the presence of our favorite canine friend who is looking for a little extra love. Yawning is also a sign of appeasement or even feeling stressed. At times, dogs will offer this behavior when they are feeling uncomfortable or are seeking our assistance with being removed from a situation that is distressing to them. Other times, dogs will yawn to convey that they mean no harm and are willing to submit to authority, be it canine or human. It is a simple means to communicate canine intent. It is interesting to note that appeasement yawning is not always accompanied by sound, though it certainly can be. There is no easily discernible reason behind why dogs would incorporate sound into this type of yawning though it could be deduced that sound might be added to intensify the emotion behind the yawn. 

Encouraging the Behavior

One consistent factor we see is that yawning seems to be a mode of communication that is primarily intended for human rather than canine interaction. The astute owner will pay close attention to not just the noises the dog makes but also to what is happening at the time of the yawn to best understand what their beloved pooch is trying to communicate to them. If yawning is a means of communication and it can be fairly assessed that it is also a means of obtaining attention, we have to ask ourselves what our dogs are actually trying to say. We have seen that dogs yawn for attention, because of stress, and to display appeasement signals. But are there other things our dogs are trying to tell us with their yawning expressions whether vocal or non-vocal? The answer is definitively yes. Vocalized yawns and their silent counterparts are a means of expression that can be as varied as the vocal range of an opera singer. They are a sophisticated means of communication. Whether the yawns find their origins in stress or anxiety or are simply a natural reaction to their human's yawns, it would seem that any accompanying vocalizations are intended to deepen the strength of the message. Consider them canine exclamation points at the end of a heartfelt sentence. Contagious yawning is a phenomenon that is common in both humans and canines.  

Many studies have been conducted to try to ascertain more information about this interesting yawn chain reaction. The conclusions have been that our dogs do indeed respond to yawns with yawning of their own. The intensity of the yawning and its accompanying noises are reflective of the mood of the dog at the time of the yawn response. It could also be suggested that if our own yawn contained a melodious tune or two that Fido might be more predisposed to responding in kind. Noisy yawns are but one way our canine counterparts choose to communicate with us. Dogs also make use of barking, whining, howling, growling, shrieking, moaning, and groaning as ways to express their emotions and needs. These are important to consider as many of these sounds could be the very noise your dog is using to communicate with you when accompanied by a yawn.

Other Solutions and Considerations

Upon closer examination, a yawn accompanied by a sigh could definitely be representative of deep contentment. Or a yawn earmarked by a shriek could be indicative of pain. To truly understand what our dogs are trying to tell us we must determine what type of sound our dog is making then search for the reason behind it. Make no mistake when it comes to dogs, a yawn does not always mean that your dog is tired. Humans yawn to get more air into their lungs and to help provide a bit of an energy burst, but the behavior is more complicated for our furry friends. Taking the time to get to the root of what your favorite companion is trying to tell you through his yawn-y vocalizations can be a key component to truly understanding your dog and his needs. Though it is charming and quite cute to observe, it is also an important means of conveying messages that can be key to a deeper relationship with our dogs.

Conclusion

Do Fido's yawn-y vocalizations make you feel like you're at the opera? You are not alone. Enjoy the melodious sounds but be sure to take some time to consider the message attached to the yawn. Your relationship with Fido will be deeper and more meaningful for it. Though there are many possible intents behind the yawn, our dogs' vocal expressions are an endearing means of communication for us to enjoy.