What is less well-documented is that dogs will yawn looking for feedback or reassurance as well. In other words, in addition to saying "Hey, everything's fine," they'll ask "Everything's fine, right?" by yawning and looking for a yawn (or other reaction) in return. My dog, Pico, shown here caught mid-yawn, uses yawning in both these contexts all the time. It is her all-time favorite, calming signal. We use this in training all the time. If she is looking unsure or we are going into a situation that I know is difficult for her (such as needing to ignore a badly behaved dog ahead of us on the sidewalk), I'll just yawn at her. When we are practicing things like long stays or waits (or actually doing them in real life), I look at her and yawn so she knows she is doing the right thing. She will also yawn at me if she needs feedback that she's still doing the right thing. Over time, this has almost become a reward for her. Yawning is particularly useful in service dog public access training, because you can yawn at your dog in situations where verbal praise or treats would be distracting or inappropriate.
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