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August 20, 2013

Science Says Your Dog Is A Copycat

We all know that yawning is contagious but I thought a friend was playing a prank on me when he said that a new study showed dogs could catch the yawning bug from their owners.  I assumed he just wanted to watch me yawn at Eko and then laugh at
We all know that yawning is contagious but I thought a friend was playing a prank on me when he said that a new study showed dogs could catch the yawning bug from their owners.  I assumed he just wanted to watch me yawn at Eko and then laugh at me but it turns out that he wasn’t joking.  Dog yawning has been all over the news this past weekRhodesian Ridgeback, dog adventure, marking our territory, dogs, dog photos, dog yawns

But how do I tell if Eko is copying me or if he is just really bored with the story I’m telling him?

According to researchers who studied over two dozen dogs breeds, dogs are not only contagious yawners, they are also discerning about the yawns they copy.  Dogs are significantly more likely to mimic the yawn of their owner than they are of a stranger. Furthermore, the dogs in the study would for the most part ignore fake yawns – they knew when it was the real deal!

Rhodesian Ridgeback, dog adventure, marking our territory, dogs, dog photos, dog yawns

Eko has certainly yawned around the same time I have, but I never given it much thought.  This morning I sat down in front of him and started yawning to see what happened

Rhodesian Ridgeback, dog adventure, marking our territory, dogs, dog photos, dog yawns

He yawned!  But again, I’m not sure if it was because I was yawning or if it was because he was bored of watching me yawn over and over again like a fool

What I found most interesting about the research is that through the use of heart monitors it was determined that the dogs were not yawning out of anxiety, as many dogs do when they are nervous.  Instead it appears the contagious yawn is born of empathy and is a way to demonstrate a reciprocal bond between dog and human. Pretty amazing stuff!  I highly recommend checking out the articles and research I linked to above to get a more in depth look at the study.

Rhodesian Ridgeback, dog adventure, marking our territory, dogs, dog photos, dog yawns

“Hey Will, why don’t you wrap up this post before I fall asleep.”

I don’t know about you, but I definitely plan to keep an eye on Eko when I yawn from now on.  Also, I lost count of how many times I yawned while writing about yawns.  Be honest, how many times did you yawn reading about them?  Their even contagious in writing!

Comments for Science Says Your Dog Is A Copycat

  1. I hadn’t heard that! I’m going to try it with Daisy. 🙂

  2. Emmadog says:

    Uh oh…this has scared my mom. She has heard the buzz about dog yawning in the news but missed the part about the dog yawning like the owner…I have huge yawns that make people laugh and now Mom is worried she looks like that too! Yikes!

  3. I’ve heard about this before and I swear it’s true, Boomer and Dottie yawn with me all the time! And, I also swear that if you start talking about yawning that in a few minutes you’ll yawn yourself! 🙂

  4. Turid Rugaas has written an excellent couple of small books about “calming signals” that include yawns. Really, it is a signal to chill out and calm down, all is okay. I had a ridgeback who was very fearful, and I yawned at him all the time to help calm him. It helped. My first ridgie yawned at me if I ever raised my voice with her. She would just look at me and yawn in my face. When I learned what she was signaling (chill out human!) it helped a lot. Blinking, lip licking are also calming signals. Really, Rugaas’ insights are fabulous and so helpful. Our dogs are smart enough to really use these signals.

  5. Could it be that dogs are just tuned in to their people? http://lovedogsandanimals.com/

  6. I had no clue but I will keep an eye on my staff to find the perfect time for yawing :o)

  7. When whee piggies yawn it’s either because whee are tired or because whee are actually trying to be threatening and show how big our toofies are! Mummy wouldn’t like us yawning at her!

    Nutty, Nacho, Buddy & Basil
    xxxx

  8. Now you’ve really done it Will, I can’t seem to stop yawning….dough (say it like Homer Simpson) I’m going to see if it works on cats

  9. I’m so glad you ended on that note, because I yawned three times, even though I’m fascinated with the subject. Great photos, too of the great yawn.

    I also smiled at the idea of you two yawning together. Fun post, Will!

  10. Jorie says:

    I didn’t know that dogs yawned out of anxiety! That explains why my parents’ dog Kiva couldn’t stop yawning during a photo shoot I tried to do with her in the backyard. She was nervous but it made for some pretty funny photos.

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