Research indicates that your yawn could prompt your dog to do the same, especially if it’s an audible yawn. A study published in “Animal Cognition” suggests that just the sound of a human yawn can trigger a yawn from a dog. The study also showed that dogs yawned more often in response to yawns from people familiar to them than from strangers, according to a report in Scientificamerican.com.
Twenty-nine dogs involved in the University of Porto (Portugal) study were played recordings of yawns from their owners, a stranger, and “control sounds” (formed by reversing the yawn recordings) while their owners were in a separate room.
Dogs were four times more likely to yawn after hearing a familiar yawn than an unfamiliar one. Scientists say the dogs’ behavior suggests contagious yawning could be empathetically or emotionally based. The findings build on previous research using gelada baboons, chimpanzees, and stump-tail macaques, which yielded similar results: contagious yawning occurred most often when prompted by an animal familiar to the test subjects.