Yawning when you see someone else yawn is thought to signal empathy. About half of all people do it contagiously. Now researchers have confirmed what many pet owners have long suspected: Dogs, too, are contagious yawners.
In a series of experiments carried out on two dozen breeds, from poodles to pit bulls, researchers found that when a dog watched either a stranger or its owner yawn, the dog was far more likely to yawn in response to its owner. Dogs in the study also demonstrated that, for the most part, they could not be duped. They responded frequently to genuine yawns, but less so to fake yawns in which people simply stretched and then opened and closed their mouths without making noise.