Wordless Wednesday 10: Yawn

Yawning is one of the most common calming signals dogs display.

And by calming signals, I am referring to behavioural communications used by dogs to prevent things from happening such as avoiding threats from people and dogs, calming down nervousness, fear, noise and other unpleasant things. Dogs also use them for calming themselves when they feel stressed or to make others around them (both dog and human) feel calmer or more relaxed.

Yawning is just one of several calming signals, including sniffing, looking away, excessive blinking, lip-licking, among many others, and to read more about about them and how they can enhance your own understanding of your dog’s behaviour, I recommend you look up the expert on this subject, Turid Rugaas.

Mid-yawn at Frank Slide, AB last fall.

But I’m not here to write about calming signals this Wednesday, but to demonstrate Moses’ most common one: yawning.

Moses yawns during the photo shoot for the blog about his new ramp before the surgery.

I often inadvertently snap photos of Moses mid-yawn.

I could try my hardest and never purposely get this photo again.

I’m not particularly surprised taking photos makes Mo exhibit a calming signal.  I mean, I usually have him sit or lay down somewhere I think is picturesque, then I move around – backing away, sitting on the ground, hover around him – stick a camera (or iPhone) in his face, and sometimes make noises to get him to perk up.

Grass in his jowls. Nice.

Yeah, suffice it to say, I might need some calming.

Moses yawns on a walk the other day.

Oh, and to anticipate a question: yes, Moses’ tongue is spotted; a common trait for the Newfoundland breed (but not exclusive or mandatory).

About ThatJenK
Writing from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. 90% pictures of my dogs; 10% miscellaneous opinions nobody asked for.

15 Responses to Wordless Wednesday 10: Yawn

  1. 2browndawgs says:

    He sure does yawn a lot. Makes for cute pictures!

    Our dogs normally only yawn when waking up for a sleep. But Chessies are very vocal yawners. It is quite funny (think the guy in the office who loudly yawns so that everyone hears).

    • thatjenk says:

      I’ve heard the odd noisy yawn out of the big guy, but those ones are always when he wakes up – as a calming signal, they’re quiet.

      I was going to say a video of Storm or Thunder yawning would be pretty entertaining, but if I’m requesting a video, it would have to be of them in action on a hunt test!

  2. Kristine says:

    The first thing I noticed was Moses’ tongue! That is just so cute. What a charming boy he is.

    Shiva’s most common signal is scratching herself. She does it on walks if I won’t let her sniff or in agility if I make her wait her turn. She also does it when we are working on new tricks and I push her too far. It’s how she tells me she needs a moment. But I have seen her yawn when I stick a camera in her face as well. I try to be aware of them when I can and act accordingingly but sometimes she just needs to tough it out. 😉

    • thatjenk says:

      Like Shiva, Moses’ yawns are pretty predictable. For example, if I have him sit like in the last photo, he’ll yawn shortly after he sits, when I’m backing away and taking out the camera. Then, if I get pretty far away, he’ll yawn again as I approach and am almost back to him.

      If he exhibited yawning in conjunction with a couple of more signals, I’d definitely give him a moment and help him to relax the situation. But since it’s only the one – and always that one – I know he can tough it out.

      I mean, it’s all in the name of getting a cute photo.

  3. Jen says:

    Moses has spots on his tongue!! Leroy does too and to be honest, until I got Leroy I never knew that this was a Newfie trait!

    • thatjenk says:

      Part of me had almost wondered if maybe brown Newfs didn’t have the spots, since I don’t think I’ve noticed them in pictures of Leroy, and the one brown Newf I know in real life doesn’t have them.

      Since I’m used to Moses, I do look twice when a Newf doesn’t have spots. I wonder if the spots are a relatively regional thing, taking breeding populations into consideration.

  4. Our Best Friend is a nose-licker and an eye-darter. I always know he’s stressed when he starts licking his nose. The giveaway is the accompanying crying. 😦

    He yawns too, but mostly when he’s happy.

    • thatjenk says:

      Moses is definitely an avoider/looker-away, too. If I try to get in real close to take a picture, he’ll do his best to avoid me. I back off (a) to respect his bubble, and (b) because it doesn’t make for a good photo anyway!

  5. lauren says:

    desmond yawns so much that i am starting to think it has nothing to do with calming/tension release. he’s also very vocal about it. we joke that he sounds like a pterodactyl when he yawns.

  6. Lola says:

    Great pics! I can’t ever seem to catch Lola in a yawn and I want to so badly.

  7. Gizmo says:

    HI! I’m a BT/schnauzer mix & I have da spottie tongue thing too…Mebbe we iz cuzins!

  8. Prudence says:

    Beautiful pup! I yawn a lot too, ‘specially after a doggy daycare day!

  9. Pup Fan says:

    Bella’s mostly a nose-licker, though she also yawns too.

  10. What a beautiful day for a yawny pup! Time to snuggle and really hit the sack don’t you think? 🙂

  11. Pingback: Kisses (Not the Chocolate Kind) « Back Alley Soapbox

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