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).