Dec. 4, 2005 — Researchers at the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service in Washington state say sometimes a bark is just a bark — but a long, loud panting sound has real meaning.
They say the long, loud pant is the sound of a dog laughing, and it has a direct impact on the behavior of other dogs.
“What we found is that it had a calming or soothing effect on the dogs,” said Patricia Simonet, an animal behaviorist in Spokane who has studied everything from hamster culture to elephant self-recognition. “Now, we actually really weren’t expecting that.”
Nancy Hill, director of Spokane County Animal Protection, admits she was skeptical at first that this noise would affect the other dogs.
“I thought: Laughing dogs?” Hill said. “A sound that we’re gonna isolate and play in the shelter? I was a real skeptic … until we played the recording here at the shelter.”
When they played the sound of a dog panting over the loudspeaker, the gaggle of dogs at the shelter kept right on barking. But when they played the dog version of laughing, all 15 barking dogs went quiet within about a minute.
“It was a night-and-day difference,” Hill said. “It was absolutely phenomenal.”
Officials say it works every time, and researchers across the country are taking note.
“The laughing sound that they make is something that was not even considered a vocalization until this study was done,” Simonet said.
Those who study dog behavior have varying opinions about exactly what Patricia Simonet’s “dog laughing” sound really is. What they do agree on, however, is that to other dogs, it is at least a sound worth keeping quiet to listen to.
Laughter, by definition, is a physiological response to humor. Dogs can be playful, but do they understand humor and laughing at funny things? Do they have their own version of laughter? What do they think when humans laugh?
Do Dogs Laugh?
Dogs do laugh; however, it is not the same way humans do.
In humans, laughter is composed of rhythmic, vocalized, expiratory, and involuntary actions. The sound can be any variation of “ha-ha” or “ho-ho.” Dogs produce a similar sound through forceful panting—a “hhuh-hhah” variation.
Dogs usually make this sound while playing to invite humans and other dogs to play; it is known as a “play-pant.” The play-pant is a form of breathing and not a vocal sound.
The appearance of this laugh has been described by Konrad Lorenz in his book, Man Meets Dog, as “…opened jaws which reveal the tongue, and the tilted angle of the mouth which stretches almost from ear to ear give a still stronger impression of laughing. This ‘laughing’ is most often seen in dogs playing with an adorned master and which become so excited that they soon start panting.” 1,2
Dogs also use body language to invite play. These behavioral cues consist of play bows, pawing, and jumping with a relaxed demeanor.
Do Dogs Have a Sense of Humor?
Dogs have been bred throughout the years to have a juvenile mind, which is similar to neoteny (the retention of juvenile features) in humans. It is believed that this stage of development is responsible for playful behavior in dogs, which is comparable to a sense of humor in humans.
This phenomenon was first observed by Charles Darwin. Similar to humans, a dog’s sense of humor is personal. Research also shows that certain breeds have more of a sense of humor than others, which means they may play-pant more. 3
The top five most playful dog breeds (with the biggest “sense of humor”) are:
Dogs also seem to have fun and enjoy spending time with us. So, it makes sense that many dog owners ask if dogs can laugh or smile. Read on to find out the answer!
Can dogs laugh?
There is a lot of debate among animal behaviourists about this but most agree that no, dogs can’t laugh. At least not in the sense that humans can laugh.
However, dogs can make a sound that is similar to a laugh, which they typically do when they are playing. It’s caused by a breathy panting that’s forcefully exhaled. It’s considered to be a play-pant rather than a dog laugh and dogs use it to invite humans and other dogs to play. Several animal species have been observed to play-pant, including primates. Dog play-pants are combined with body language that invites you to play such as play bows, a paw reaching out to you or teasing jumps towards you with a relaxed demeanour.
Animal behaviourist Patricia Simonet at Sierra Nevada College recorded dogs making this play-pant sound and discovered that it had a broader range of frequencies than typical dog panting. She concluded that this meant it could be considered a type of dog laugh.
Simonet then played the dog laugh recordings to puppies and found that they became very active upon hearing the noises. The recordings also seemed to calm dogs in dog shelters.
Other animals can seem to laugh
For a long time, we thought that only humans could laugh. However, research into non-human primate behaviour has found that chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans use a play-pant laugh when tickled, and other research into chimpanzees found that they can smile in the same way as humans.
Do Dogs Smile?
In the minds of most people, the equivalent of a dog smiling is when he is wagging his tail. But there is actually one canine facial expression that comes close to what we mean by smiling in humans. In this expression, slightly opened jaws reveal the dog’s tongue lapping out over his front teeth. Frequently the eyes take on a teardrop shape at the same time, as if being pulled upward slightly at the outer corners. It is a casual expression that is usually seen when the dog is relaxed, playing, or interacting socially, especially with people. The moment any anxiety or stress is introduced, the dog’s mouth closes and you can no longer see the tongue.
Dogs are also capable of laughing, and they typically do so when they are playing. Canine laughter begins with the doggy equivalent of smiling but also includes a sound that is much like panting. Several years ago, animal behaviorist Patricia Simonet at Sierra Nevada College by Lake Tahoe recorded those sounds while dogs played. On analyzing the recordings, she found that they involved a broader range of frequencies than regular dog panting. In one experiment, Simonet noticed that puppies romped for joy when they heard recordings of these sounds; in another, she was able to show that these same sounds helped to calm dogs in an animal shelter.
How To Make Your Dog Laugh
Humans can imitate sounds of dog laughter, but it takes conscious monitoring of mouth shape to get the sound pattern right. Producing dog laughter correctly can make your dog sit up, wag his tail, approach you from across the room, and even laugh along.
- Round your lips slightly to make a “hhuh” sound. Note: The sound has to be breathy with no actual voicing, meaning that if you touch your throat while making this sound, you should not feel any vibration.
- Use an open-mouthed smiling expression to make a “hhah” sound. Again, breathe the sound; do not voice it.
- Combine steps one and two to create canine laughter. It should sound like “hhuh-hhah-hhuh-hhah.”
Perhaps the most common misinterpretation of dog behaviour is based on the myth that a dog wagging his tail is happy and friendly. Although some tail wags are associated with happiness, others can signal fear or even the warning that you are about to be bitten.
The tail’s position, specifically the height at which it is held, serves as an emotional meter. If the tail is held at a middle height, the dog is relaxed. As the tail position moves up, it is a sign that the dog is becoming more threatening, with a vertical tail being a clearly dominant signal meaning, “I’m boss around here.”
Similarly, barks say a lot about what your dog is thinking. Low-pitched sounds (growls) make the animal seem large and dangerous; they usually indicate anger and the possibility of aggression. High-pitched sounds mean the opposite, a request to be allowed to come closer or a signal from a large dog saying, “It’s safe to approach.”
For all our top picks of toys sure to make your pup smile, click here!
Can dogs laugh? Here’s how to tell if your canine companion has a sense of humor.
Many dog owners will attest to the fact that their dog is playful and has a sense of fun, but can dogs laugh? Indeed, if you’ve treated them to some of the best dog toys, you’ll know exactly how much they like to mess around and have a good time.
But can dogs actually laugh in the same way humans do? Research has indeed shown that dogs are capable of something akin to laughter, and they can also understand emotions shown by their human owners (We bet you already knew that last bit).
There are a lot of ways you can attempt to elicit something like laughter from your dog, and at the very least you should both have a lot of fun trying. Read on to discover more…
: Our perfect picks to keep puppies busy : Safely satiate your pooch’s need to gnaw : Keep your canine companion entertained for hours
What noise do dogs make when they laugh?
If you’re expecting a full-on chuckle from your hound, then you’ll likely be very disappointed. Some studies have shown however that dogs do make a noise which can be attributed to laughter.
Patricia Simonet, a canine researcher, is often credited as the woman who discovered dog laughter, working to “translate” the meaning of various grunts and pants to decipher when dogs found something amusing or funny.
The sound of dog laughter is said to be very similar to panting, and it might not always be obvious when it’s happening – except perhaps if you know your dog extremely well. In Simonet’s recordings – captured while dogs were playing – she found panting with a broader range of frequencies than the panting displayed when dogs were exercising.
Later, in follow-up studies, it was shown that playing those same sounds back to dogs eased anxious behaviour in other dogs, or even caused puppies to “jump for joy”.
What makes a dog laugh?
Dogs are said to have a juvenile sense of humour (reminds us of some humans we know). Some studies have also shown that certain types of breed are more susceptible to “laughing” than others – supposedly the Springer Spaniel and Irish Terrier are two breeds with a funny bone, while the Chihuahua, Rottweiler and Pekingese are more serious creatures.
Since studies have shown that playing is the time when dogs exhibit laugh-like behavior, then that’s the best way to attempt to tease a smile from your pup. Different dogs might like different types of playing, but if you’re not entirely sure where to start, make sure to check our how to play with a dog guide for some top tips.
You could also try to make an exciting dog play area at home, which may just stimulate your dog’s humor, especially if you get down to their level and join in the fun too.
If you’ve got more than one dog, you might find that they’re capable of making each other laugh. You could see it in dog play fighting, or perhaps when they’re both playing with their favorite toys.
When you first bring a dog home, you’ll both be learning lots about each other. As their owner, one of the things you’ll be learning is what makes them tick, what activities do they enjoy, what are their favorite games and so on. Should you play tug of war with your puppy, you might find that it’s one such game that brings out a little laugh. As you play with your dog more and more, you’ll get to know their personality and hopefully discover what they find funny.
Do dogs understand laughter in humans?
Lots of studies have shown that dogs are quite well attuned to human emotions, tone and body language – particularly those of their owners or others in the family that they might be close to. You’ve probably noticed this yourself if you’ve been feeling particularly down and your dog has snuggled in close, or you’ve been feeling excited and happy and your dog mimics your behavior.
As such, there’s every possibility that dogs may recognise in their own way that you’re feeling happy when you laugh. It’s unlikely however that dogs have the nuance to understand exactly what you might be laughing at – so if you’re laughing at something silly they’ve done, they probably won’t feel embarrassed that you’ve found their behaviour amusing.
Do dogs laugh when tickled?
Tickling is a great way to illicit a chuckle from a human – but are dogs ticklish? Evidently the simple answer is yes – try giving your dog a soft stroke on their belly, paws, and on the chest. You might not necessarily raise a chuckle, but you’ll both probably enjoy the bonding experience at least.
Most studies and experiences show that when a dog is tickled, they’ll exhibit happy behaviour such as rolling around, sticking their tongues out, or demanding that you repeat the behaviour should you stop. Every dog is different, but experimenting with finding their best tickle spots is almost guaranteed to be a positive experience for them and for you, and may even elicit a doggy chuckle.
Amy Davies is a freelance writer and photographer with over 15 years experience. She has a degree in journalism from Cardiff University and has written about a huge variety of topics over the years. These days she mostly specialises in technology and pets, writing across a number of different titles including TechRadar, Stuff, Expert Reviews, T3, Digital Camera World, and of course PetsRadar. She lives in Cardiff with her dog, Lola, a rescue miniature dachshund.
Animals make laugh-like sounds when they are tickled or playing.
For many years, psychologists and behavioral biologists agreed that laughter was a unique emotional expression found only in humans. However, as the study of animal emotions expanded this idea was called into question. The Nobel Prize-winning ethnologist, Konrad Lorenz, suggested that dogs are capable of laughing. He says that it is during play that dogs actually appear to laugh. In his book Man Meets Dog, Lorenz describes it this way:
“. an invitation to play always follows; here the slightly opened jaws which reveal the tongue, and the tilted angle of the mouth which stretches almost from ear to ear give a still stronger impression of laughing. This ‘laughing’ is most often seen in dogs playing with an adored master and which become so excited that they soon start panting”.
It is this panting that Lorenz identified with human laughter. Although he may have been one of the first to suggest that dogs laugh, the idea that other animals laugh had already been suggested by earlier scientists. Charles Darwin started the ball rolling in his book The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals published in 1872. He noticed that chimpanzees and other great apes produce a laugh-like sound when they are tickled or when they are playing. More recently, Jane Goodall described this same ‘‘laughing” and ‘‘chuckling” reported by Darwin and others as a sort of breathy panting that can escalate to a more guttural ‘‘ah-grunting,” if intense. The general consensus is that this ape laughter sounds somewhat like the heavy breathing that might simply result from vigorous play is meant to be a signal of their playful intentions. According to Robert Provine, a psychologist at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, the sound of chimpanzee laughter is much breathier than that of humans, which tends to chop the laugh sounds into short “ha-ha” sounds. Instead, there are longer pant sounds with each inward and outward breath.
Research done by Patricia Simonet at Sierra Nevada College in Lake Tahoe looked at laughter sounds in dogs. Simonet’s team investigated the question by standing in parks with a parabolic microphone that allowed them to record the sounds that dogs made while playing from a distance. In describing the laughter sounds of dogs she says that, “To an untrained human ear, it sounds much like a pant, ‘hhuh, hhuh.” When the recordings were analyzed she found that that this exhalation bursts into a broader range of frequencies than does regular dog panting. She confirmed the positive effects of this laugh sound in an experiment on 15 puppies, which romped for joy simply upon hearing the recorded canine laugh. More recently, she was able to show that these same sounds helped to calm dogs in an animal shelter.
Simonet noticed that when she tried to imitate the laugh panting sounds of dogs it seemed to have a positive effect on the animals hearing it.
I must admit that I was a bit skeptical about the usefulness of humans making these dog laugh sounds. So I began to experiment, originally with my own dogs. My first attempts were not very successful, causing virtually no response or at best, puzzled looks from my dogs. However, I was eventually able to shape a set of sounds that reliably evoked interest on the part of my dogs. It required conscious monitoring to get the sound pattern right. For me, what seems to work the best is something like “hhuh-hhah-hhuh-hhah. ” with the “hhuh” sound made with slightly rounded lips, while the “hhah” sound is made with a sort of open-mouthed smiling expression. The sound has to be breathy with no actual voicing. Thus if you touch your throat while making this sound you should not feel any vibration. This caused my own dogs to sit up and wag their tails or to approach me from across the room.
Since these initial informal experiments, I have extended my observations and tried using my human imitation of dog laughter sounds to calm worried, anxious, and shy dogs in a dog obedience class and in other settings. It seems to help if you glance at the dog directly only for brief intervals alternating with glancing away. Also short, quick side-to-side movements appear to help. It seems to work best in calming dogs that are moderately anxious or insecure. If the negative emotions experienced by the dog are too intense it does not seem to help. This is reminiscent of trying to calm humans. If they are moderately anxious introducing some humor into the situation can be helpful and relaxing, while if they are in a state of panic your attempts might be viewed as actually laughing at their emotional state and may actually make things worse.
We all know dogs we describe as amusing, entertaining, or downright hilarious. Dogs can make us laugh. But do the dogs, themselves, have a sense of humor? Do they know they’re being funny? Do canines find things amusing? Do dogs laugh, and if so, what makes them laugh?
Is playfulness the same as a sense of humor in dogs?
Some theories suggest that, if playfulness defines a sense of humor, then dogs most certainly know what’s funny. Charles Darwin looked for similarities in emotions between animals and humans and observed what he considered a sense of humor that goes beyond just the game. In “The Descent of Man,” he wrote:
“Dogs show what may be fairly called a sense of humor, as distinct from mere play; if a bit of stick…be thrown to one, he will often carry it away for a short distance; and then squatting down with it on the ground close before him, will wait until his master comes quite close to take it away. The dog will then seize it and rush away in triumph, repeating the same maneuver, and evidently enjoying the practical joke.”
Many studies have shown that primates have a sense of humor. The most well-known is Koko the gorilla, who not only understood over 2000 words, but was also known for playing practical jokes and using wordplay. Scientists in the field of evolutionary biology posit that many if not most animals know what’s humorous. To paraphrase a saying: we may not be able to define a sense of humor, but we know it when we see it.
Is being funny or playful evolutionary in dogs?
It’s possible that this so-called sense of humor is really an evolutionary necessity that comes from wolves, the modern dog’s ancestor. Like primates, wolves live in hierarchal packs, where it’s essential to know one’s place in the pack and to avoid angering the alpha. James Gorman, a science writer at the New York Times, describes it like this: “when the big dog growls, the beta, gamma, delta, epsilon, lambda, mu, nu and omega dogs had better be able to laugh it off, so they can live to reproduce another day”
Do dogs act silly to make us humans laugh? Since animals must look after their own needs to survive, it’s possible silly or humorous behavior is a way to get attention. Consider positive reinforcement: your dog does something you want her to do, she gets rewarded. She rolls on the floor, with her tongue hanging out and a goofy expression on her face and you laugh and giver her affectionate rub. It’s possible she’s now learned that this behavior elicits a desirable response from you. Researchers at the Laboratory Animal Refinement & Enrichment Forum (LAREF) suggest that an animal may display what we think of as a sense of humor to get a response.
But according to an article in the Animal Welfare Institute Quarterly, “Even if animals… learn to respond to a certain situation in order to trigger a predictable… reaction in another partner, this does not exclude the possibility that the learned response is an expression of humor/amusement/fun.”
Playfulness depends on dog breed
If we equate playfulness with a sense of humor, we should also keep in mind that different breeds have different personalities and therefore, different degrees of playfulness. A team of animal behaviorists at University of California-Davis has even ranked breeds by how playful they are. They concluded that these are the most playful breeds:
Do dogs laugh?
Dogs have specific behaviors that indicate playfulness. For example, we’ve all seen the play bow. Dogs “bow,” by putting their rear ends in the air and their front legs on the ground, as a way of indicating they want to play and that anything that follows is all in fun. Even more interesting, research has determined that dogs actually laugh! The ethnologist Konrad Lorenz may have been the first to suggest this. In “Man Meets Dog,” he writes “…an invitation to play always follows; here the slightly opened jaws which reveal the tongue, and the tilted angle of the mouth which stretches almost from ear to ear give a still stronger impression of laughing… which become so excited that they soon start panting”.
When Lorenz observed the panting, he was really on to something. Patricia Simonet, an animal behaviorist at the Animal Behavior Center in Washington State, conducted studies on dog vocalizations. She and her team realized that dogs emit a very specific pant when they play. Using a spectrograph, they analyzed the sound, which to the human ear probably sounds a lot like any other panting. But they identified a specific “pronounced breathy forced exhalation,” which they named the dog-laugh. In studies, when other dogs heard the dog-laugh, they responded by play-bowing, wagging their tails, or play-chasing.
Perhaps none of this proves empirically that dogs have a sense of humor. For centuries, scientists haven’t even been able to agree on what a sense of humor is. But most dog lovers don’t need empirical evidence that dogs have a sense of humor. We see it in their goofy poses, their sly playfulness during a game of “keep-away,” and their innate ability to make us laugh. Darwin believed that the difference between human and animal intelligence is a matter of degree and, as Marc Beckoff, author of “The Emotional Lives of Animals,” wrote, “If we have a sense of humor, then nonhuman animals should have a sense of humor, too.”
Patricia Simonet says she found a way to calm down the raucous barkers at her animal shelter: For several hours a day, she plays a recording of dogs “laughing” – a pronounced breathy exhalation through the mouth, sort of like excited panting.
“It sounds like pigs snorting,” some tell Simonet, a cognitive ethnologist at Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service in Spokane, Wash. She likens it to the human “hah hah hah” without the “a.” (Hear a one-second clip at www.laughing-dog.org.)
Which prompts the question: Do dogs really laugh?
Yes, Simonet says.
While researching dogs at play, she came to realize they make at least four distinct sound patterns during play time: barks, growls, whines and “dog-laugh” – that breathy forced exhalation used to initiate play.
“Only the laugh appears to be exclusively produced during play and friendly greetings, and not during other encounters,” reports Simonet. “So powerful is this stimulus, that humans can initiate play with dogs by using an imitation dog-laugh.”
This is not just a laughing matter. In fact, it’s serious enough that Simonet and her co-authors reported on their research at the Proceedings of 7th International Conference on Environmental Enrichment held in New York in 2005.
Give it a try. Just by hearing you make the breathy sound, your dog may respond by doing a “play bow” – extending his front legs and hoisting his back end in the air – to display the universal canine signal for, “Let’s play!”
(Tip: Another way you can initiate play is by whispering. It works about half the time. To improve your odds, whisper while you’re down on the floor doing a play bow yourself.)
“Perhaps the whisper is a close approximation to the dog-laugh,” Simonet says. “When humans whisper, they produce a pronounced forced, breathy exhalation through the mouth.”
Nicholas Dodman, BVMS, a veterinarian and director of the Animal Behavior Clinic at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in North Grafton, Mass., agrees that dogs laugh, but they do it inwardly, he says – not as Simonet proposes.
“Inwardly, they’re thinking: ‘This is wicked good fun. I’m having the time of my life. Tee hee hee, ho ho ho.’ They just don’t open their mouths,” says Dr. Dodman, author of If Only They Could Speak: Stories about Pets and Their People (W.W. Norton).
Makes you wonder: who really is enjoying the final laugh – you or your dog?
Curious about canine comedians? Check out these references:
* Don’t Look Now, but is That Dog Laughing?
* Dog-laughter: Recorded Playback Reduces Stress-Related Behavior in Shelter Dogs”
* Compare dog laughter with the sound of dogs panting at www.laughing-dog.org
By Sally Deneen, a freelance writer from Seattle and co-author of The Dog Lover’s Companion to Florida (Avalon Travel Publishing).
Many dog owners believe their dogs enjoy a good laugh. Check out YouTube, where there is no shortage of smiling and laughing dogs!
However, can a dog laugh in the same way as a human laughs? It’s very easy to anthropomorphise animal behaviour – i.e. judge everything they do from a human emotional and moral perspective – and the real question, perhaps, should by why would a dog laugh? What does it mean, and what advantage would it have given the dog’s wolf ancestors in the wild? Or is it perhaps something they have only learnt to do since they were domesticated by humans?
There is no definite answer to that last question, but we do know a bit about animal laughter.
Do other animals laugh?
From a hard-nosed science point of view, the only animals that are definitely confirmed as laughing are the great apes, dolphins and lab rats. Chimpanzee laughter sounds to our ears more like a shriek, and in the wild it is linked to reassurance and the release of pressure rather than pleasure. However, a tickled chimp definitely laughs, just like a human child does.
Gorillas have been known to laugh at slapstick human behaviour, suggesting that they would make a great audience at a pantomime! Orangutans are a bit more inscrutable, and their signs of laughter may be more akin to simple copying than genuine amusement. They laugh when tickled, though.
A 2004 study of dolphins found that the animals produced a sonar pulse followed by a whistle when playing. The researchers concluded that these sounds meant that the dolphins were feeling happy and relaxed in a fun, non-threatening setting, and that the ‘laugh’ prevented the rough and tumble play from escalating into violence. This is fascinating, as many psychologists believe that human laughter evolved for these exact reasons, and it ties in with those wild chimpanzee ‘laughs’ too.
The fact that lab rats laugh when tickled suggests that, given the chance, many other mammals would chuckle when tickled too. They just haven’t been given the chance in a scientific setting. Dogs, however, seem to relax rather than burst out laughing when tickled.
The fact that you can’t make your dog laugh by tickling it doesn’t mean it can’t laugh, though.
What does a dog laugh sound like?
Dog laughter – if that’s what it is – is a kind of rapid panting – a play-pant which they use to invite humans and other dogs to play. It is a hhuh sound followed by a hhah sound, and humans can impersonate it by making breathy ‘hoo-haa’ sounds. The panting will often be combined with head bows, and the dog may reach out with one of its paws too, or make little teasing jumps in your direction. This is an invitation to play rather than an expression of amusement in the human sense of laughter, though.
If you laugh at your dog using the hhuh hhah panting sound, drawing your lips back in a cheesy grin during the ‘aaa’ part, you may make your dog laugh back. It’s a great way of bonding with your furry friend!
Do dogs smile?
When a dog is relaxed it often pulls back its lips, lets its tongue dr oop and narrows its eyes, it can sometimes – depending on the
breed – look like a smile. The fact that they pull these faces when happy and relaxed makes it an easy associated with smiling. The fact that human smiles seem to have their origins in tension-reducing body language suggests that the same might apply to dogs. The wild wolves, close cousins of the domestic dog, does indeed have a tongue-wagging facial expression linked to relaxation and submissiveness.
Intriguingly, smiles appear to be contagious among dogs, just as they are in human to human interactions. If you can’t make your dog laugh, you can certainly make it smile! Smile at your dog, and your dog may well smile back!
Do scientists believe that dogs can laugh?
Science is on the side of the laughing dog. In a 2005 study titled ‘Dog-laughter: Recorded playback reduces stress related behavior in shelter dogs’, it was discovered that a dog sometimes pants in a way that sounds like a laugh. When recordings of these ‘laughs’ were played to other dogs, the dogs became playful and de-stressed, as measured in stress-r elated behaviour such as tail wagging, doggie ‘play-faces’, happy body language and lip-licking.
However, being happy, relaxed and playful is not exactly the same as laughing. There is no evidence that a dog ever finds things amusing in the same way as humans – or gorillas – do. On the contrary, slapstick behaviour is more likely to startle or scare a dog.
Laughter is all about fun, though, and you can certainly have plenty of that with your dog. They readily show their emotions through sounds and body language. Take the panting and playful body language as a sign of deep friendship. And that means there’s plenty to laugh about!
It’s time for ‘walkies’ as we answer the age-old mystery of why can’t dogs laugh…or can they? If you’re more of a cat person, you might want to turn back now. This is one article firmly dedicated to our canine companions and the science behind their smiles.
There’s a reason dogs are called man’s best friends, and if you own one, you’ll undoubtedly have seen them smile, sneeze, yawn, and maybe even cry. However, there’s still the question of whether dogs can laugh. Has Muttley been lying to us all these years?
Laughter — It’s Good For The Soul
Firstly, let’s look at the school of thought that dogs can laugh. While it isn’t quite the side-splitting chortles you might see from humans while watching Tina Fey, Steeve Coogan, or Julia Davis, some experts think dogs express happiness in a certain way.
In the book “Man Meets Dog”, Nobel Prize-winning ethnologist Konrad Lorenz�claims dogs can laugh. Lorenz says, “The tilted angle of the mouth which stretches almost from ear to ear give a still stronger impression of laughing. This �laughing’ is most often seen in dogs playing with an adored master and which become so excited that they soon start panting”.
Fox Searchlight Pictures
This behaviour is actually echoed in the research of Patricia Simonet. In 2005, the animal behaviourist published a paper on dog vocalisations and explained, “During play encounters dogs vocalize using at least four distinct patterns; barks, growls, whines�and a pronounced�breathy�forced�exhalation�(dog-laugh).��
While the stereotypical human laugh is vocalised as a “haha” (cue Nelson Muntz), the dog pant is more of a �hhuh-hhah�. Simonet took this one step further and played recordings of her ‘laughing’ dogs to 15 puppies. She noted that the puppies became visibly excitable at the sound of the happy dogs.
Taking this theory into her own home, Simonet tried it out on her dogs. She wrote, “I began to experiment, originally with my own dogs. My first attempts were not very successful, causing virtually no response or at best puzzled looks from my dogs. However I was eventually able to shape a set of sounds which reliably evoked interest on the part of my dogs.”
If you want to make your dog laugh, try it for yourself:
- Start by rounding your lips to make the first �hhuh� sound. The advice is to do this with no vocalisation. If you touch your throat, you shouldn’t be able to feel any vibrations.
- Open your mouth and make a smiling expression for the �hhah�. Once again, do it with your breath and no voice.
- Add these two sounds together with a continuous (and breathy) �hhuh-hhah-hhuh-hhah” to have your dog rolling around on the floor in hysterics.
For a while, people thought a dog’s version of smiling was wagging its tail, however, we now know dogs can smile in a much more human way. When a dog is relaxed or content, they’ll pull their mouth wide and let their tongue lap over their front teeth. This has been characterised as a “dog smile”.
Even cuter than this, dog smiles are often in response to a human smile. This phenomenon is called laughter contagion and is seen in humans every day. It’s a much easier way to tell if a dog is happy than the standard tail-wag. In fact, dogs wagging their tails doesn’t just mean they’re happy. Pooches use their tails for a variety of ways to communicate — ranging from happiness to anger.
Don’t be too disheartened if you can’t make your dog laugh or smile, and it’s important to remember, no two dogs are the same. Dr. Marc Bekoff explored dog laughter in the book Canine Confidential: Why Dogs Do What They Do. Here, he explained, “Dogs are as individual as humans. I�ve lived with enough dogs to know that even litter mates have individual personalities.�
Does this mean your dog might find your latest witty one-liner as funny as the neighbour’s prized pet? Bekoff added, “This is important to remember when making any assertions about dogs in general. Some people have said things like �dogs don�t like to be hugged.�
Bekoff concluded, “Some dogs don�t like it and some dogs do. And we should just pay attention to what an individual dog�s needs are.� Basically, if your dog isn’t laughing at your jokes, you don’t have to start working on new material.
You And Me Baby Ain’t Nothing But Mammals
Ironically, it was Charles Darwin who first posed the idea that humans aren’t the only animals that can laugh. In the 1872 book The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals, Darwin said chimpanzees expressed a form of laughing. Jane Goodall also backed this up and said she’s witnessed similar behaviour in chimps.
Humans, dogs, chimps, what other animals can laugh? Well, the list apparently extends to the likes of dolphins, crows, and elephants. Even rats are said to giggle when tickled — we just can’t hear it. It’s no surprise that our not-so-distant cousins, like gorillas, also express human-like laughing characteristics. However, learning that dogs can laugh and smile with the best of us is an arguably much cuter revelation.
Next time you’re bored at home with some dog-friendly wine, but reruns of Michael Mcintyre aren’t making you chortle, why not have a good chinwag with your dog and try to get a laugh out of them? Even if it’s a little ‘ruff’ being man’s best friend at times, at least we know our puppers have a sense a humour.
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I was sitting on a front porch in Helena, Montana, with my 14-year-old son on a hot summer afternoon when the smoke of nearby forest fires made the air even hotter. A black Labrador belonging to nobody we knew came walking along in a low, overheated mood. On a neighbor’s lawn, a sprinkler was going. The dog saw it, bounded into the spray, and stayed there for a long while. Then he came out, shook himself a lot, and walked up onto the porch. He sat on his haunches looking at us. This was one happy dog. This dog owned happiness. Regarding us benevolently, his eyes had the fogginess of total bliss. Just sitting there, wet and dripping, he embodied the sound ahhhhhhhhhhh. My son and I agreed that we had never seen a human being as happy as that dog, and suddenly we became happy ourselves.
A dog’s sense of smell is said to be ten thousand times better than a human’s, and that’s also how much better dogs are than humans at being happy. Human happiness is a shabby thing compared with a dog’s. For eons, humans benefitted from the canine gift for happiness and favored happy dogs, who thus passed along their happy genes, producing a species that is now besotted, almost deranged, with happiness. Of course, many other animals take pleasure in being alive—eagles soaring, otters skidding down slides, cows content to the point of smugness. But there’s a selfishness to that happiness. Dog happiness always looks outward. To reach fullest expression, a dog’s happiness has to be lived large and strewn around. The only thing that slows down a dog’s happiness is if he can’t infect you with it so you can be happy together.
A dog will laugh at anything. Hiding the ball, then pulling it out of your coat—hilarious! Watching you load the car before the vacation—a riot!
And dogs laugh! Not only do they laugh, they mean it, unlike such sarcastic types as monkeys, hyenas, and dolphins. (I know dolphins are friendly, but that high-pitched chuckle of theirs can wear on you.) A dog will laugh at anything. Hiding the ball, then pulling it out of your coat—hilarious! Watching you load the car before the vacation—a riot! Dogs are like an audience someone has already warmed up so that they laugh and voice their approval the minute the featured act (you) steps onto the stage. Dogs laugh even when they don’t get the joke, which is often. But hey, if you’re laughing, it must be funny, and that’s good enough for them.
To understand the sense of humor dogs have, it’s useful to contrast it with that of their main pet competitor: cats. Cats do not really have a sense of humor. In its place, they cultivate a deep sense of the ironic. The detached, ironical pleasure cats take in watching and inflicting suffering is a horrid substitute for the hearty wholesomeness of dog laughter. And a cat never laughs out loud. The best that cats can muster is a sardonic smirk, an “I told you so” bared in their pointy incisors.
Dogs laugh just as hard when the joke is on them, but cats hate being the butt of laughter. One time my cat was asleep on the mantelpiece in the living room. In his sleep, he turned over, woke up, found himself lying on empty air, and began scrabbling frantically on the mantel with his front paws to keep from going down. Cartoonlike, he lost the struggle and dropped to the floor. I saw the whole thing and laughed my head off. Only the cat’s dignity was injured, but he never forgave me, for the course of his half-hour memory span. He slunk around and shot me dirty looks and was really a bad sport about it, I thought. A dog would’ve made that same pratfall and hopped back on the mantel and done it again just for laughs.
Best of all, dogs live to go outdoors, where they find their funniest and timeliest material. They want to show you that running fast to nowhere in particular and then back, muddy and burr-covered, is such great comedy that you ought to join them in guffawing and jumping around with your tongue hanging out. They invite you to follow them to the railroad tracks and the run-over opossum that will be a good joke for them to roll in, or to the Canada geese on the baseball field, where a side-splitting chase scene will ensue. The bits are somehow even funnier because the dog is confident that you will love them as much as he does.
Dogs exult in the world itself. No matter if your neighborhood is interesting or not, your dog will want to go out in it. This is a godsend for human beings, most of whom would otherwise vanish into their screens. When I ramble around the part of New Jersey where I live, I see very few people on the sidewalks, and blue glows in many windows. The actual world has been abandoned for the virtual one—but not by dogs. They lobby for the world’s reality and the unending comedic opportunities it provides. The only other humans I see on my rambles in the worst weather are the ones who have to walk their dogs. Dogs never stop showing us that gigantic happiness inheres in the world, waiting to be run to earth or sniffed on a tree.
Contributing editor Ian Frazier’s September 2013 story “The One That Got Away” was included in Best American Sports Writing 2014.
It’s no doubt that dogs make us laugh. But the bigger question is: Do WE make our dogs laugh? Or, do dogs make each other laugh? And if a dog DOES laugh, what does it sound like?
Fortunately we’ve got this thing called science that can explain it all! Here are 10 ways dogs are known to “laugh”:
1. Dogs Laugh, Just Not The Way We Do
Depending on the size of the dog and shape of their face, the way a dog laugh’s will differ, but generally a “head up, toothy broad-mouth, sparkling eyes, and a chuffing pant typify canine crack up”, according to Psychology Today.
A dog-respiration study published in Stanford University’s Science News describes dog laughter as “a broader-frequency exhalation” than panting. It also found that playing back recordings of dog laughter calmed anxious dogs, giving them more confidence to interact with other dogs and people.
2. They Smile. Hard.
A University of Wisconsin Stevens Point (UWSP)-compiled dog behavior defines dog smiling as a “relaxed, open-mouthed facial expression” that is often a response to a human’s smile, known as laughter contagion.
3. They Wag And Wiggle
While this may seem like a pawbvious one, but the word wag is actually a synonym for comedian, humorist, jester, jokester, or prankster. Even when their face doesn’t show it (which it usually does), their tushies do. What I love about this is that dogs who have shorter tails tend to compensate with wiggling their entire bodies. And it is delightful to watch.
4. They Play And Frolic And Derp Around Like The Happy Dinguses That They Are
It may look like she is scratching her back right here, but I am a witness to this every day. This is Oona’s “HANGING OUT AT WORK WITH MY MOMMA AND MY FRIENDZ” dance.
5. They Get All Up In Your Business
Just because HOOMANS find it inappropriate to randomly nudge their face in a stranger’s junk, doesn’t mean dogs play by the same rules. For dogs, a crotch snuff is nothing more than a fist bump.
6. They Swipe Your Stuff
Like children, dogs are simply amused by objects that are not their own. Seeing their human’s response when they turn a pair of undies into a chew toy is a fun game for them. Part of the fun for the dog is seeing a human’s reaction when they snag something they know they’re not supposed to.
7. They Like To Hide In Weird Places
Another bazaar way dogs entertain themselves at the expense of their human’s frustration is hiding weird places.
8. They Get Loud
Nothing is funnier to watch than a dog dancing. But it’s not just because conceptually it’s funny. It’s also knowing how excited a dog has to be in order to suddenly realize they’ve had impeccable rhythm their entire lives.
10. They Know Their Audience
Dogs are extremely sensitive to the emotions of their humans. They know when we are sad. And they know when we are fascinated by them. So the next time you see your dog smiling like a dingus, maybe it’s not because they don’t know what’s going on. Maybe for once they’re trying to get US to be the ones to pee in the house.
They typically make this noise with a wide, open grin.
If you listen closely, you may have noticed it, too.
Your dog might laugh as she bows to invite you or other dogs to play. Some dogs do it when they’re being cuddled or tickled.
Dogs Make Each Other Laugh
In a 2001 study, researchers recorded dogs laughing.
Then, they played back long recordings of dog laughs to a shelter full of stressed dogs and puppies.
As the tapes were played, the shelter residents showed significantly fewer signs of stress. Many of the dogs and puppies began to bounce around, and responded with laughs of their own.
It’s also been observed that if you whisper at your dog as you imitate the famous play-bow, you’ll be more successful at getting your dog to play.
That Time Cow Laughed With Her Entire Being
Learning about dog laughter has made me remember a beautiful memory I’ve had with Cow.
Back when she still belonged to my former landlord, the property we lived on was not fully fenced.
Every time I went for a walk, she would follow me, and there was little I could do about it. As time went on, I began to carry a leash and would leash her up shortly after we left the property, but this was before then.
So, I would sometimes find myself walking with an off-leash Cow. We lived in a semi-rural area. I knew it was a little dangerous, but it wasn’t that unusual.
Anyway, here’s what happened.
One day, I left Matilda at home and went for a walk to the dollar store down the block.
Of course, Cow followed.
She walked politely by my side the whole way. When we approached the dollar store, she stood at the doorway, but did not enter.
I went inside and began to select items. I was pretty absorbed in what I was doing when I heard her loud, feminine bark, “Woof!”
I looked up, and there she was, at the end of the aisle inside the store.
She laughed with her whole body, panting and grinning and wiggling and wagging her stump.
She laughed as though to say, “I’m a dog in a dollar store! Hahaha. I’m a dog in a store!”
Her laugh was infectious, I couldn’t help but laugh myself.
I lead her out, asked her to stay outside, and finished my purchase. Then, we laughed all the way home.
Do Dogs Laugh Like Humans?
Face down, butt up, that’s the way we like to… play!
From the study alone, I wouldn’t think that dogs laughed at jokes. I’d question whether or not we could call that breathy call to play a true “laugh.”
And yet, I think dogs can laugh at jokes.
I’m certain that Cow found it amusing that she had entered the store so easily. She’s normally happy to see me, but this was different. As a roaming dog, she has probably been shooed away from stores, and may have never even had the confidence to attempt to enter until that day.
She overcame her inhibitions because she wanted to see where I had gone. She went to no-dog’s-land, and probably felt very pleased with herself.
“I’m a dog in a dollar store!!” What a simple, wonderful little joke.
Have You Heard Your Dog Laugh?
I’d love to hear more stories of dogs laughing.
I’ve been trying to find recordings with no success. But I have noticed that my dogs respond to me when I imitate a dog’s play laugh, especially when I get on the floor with a toy and play-bow like a damn fool. I highly recommend it.
Quick — take a picture of your dog smiling before it disappears!
Your four-legged friend looks happy, but whenever you see their little smirk, you may wonder, if dogs can actually smile for real? And if so, why do dogs smile, anyway? It surely makes you happy to see your pet with a wide grin, whether it be at snack time or during a belly scratch, but you’re not sure whether you’re imagining it or if your dog is actually happy.
Here’s the lowdown on dog smiling so you can know once and for all whether your pet is beaming at you with joy or whether their mouth just turns upward.
Why Do Dogs Smile?
There are many reasons why you might see a dog smile. Maybe you’ve just returned home from a long day of work while your dog’s been home alone. Maybe your dog hears the shake of their bag of food. Many people think their dog smiles widely when they’re in a car enjoying the feel and smell of the breeze.
But, just like humans, the reasons a dog may smile are subjective. What makes one person — or dog — smile is different from what will make another person or dog happy.
Can Dogs Smile?
For many years, animal behaviorists largely agreed that animals weren’t smiling because they were experiencing joy, but instead because of a muscular reflex. Because of this, most people also believed that dogs didn’t smile as a way of showing their emotions. That belief, however, has been challenged.
While there are new studies that indicate that some animals might be smiling to express emotion in the way that we perceive smiling, as humans, we need to adjust our mindset slightly when we question whether or not a dog’s smile is real.
For example, if you’re watching a movie and a character says something funny, you’re likely to crack a smile or laugh. Don’t expect the same from your pet. Your dog isn’t smiling because they find something humorous. Instead, they’re smiling because they are calm and relaxed and, because of that, one could venture that your pet is happy.
Similarly, some dogs will appear to smile if they are showing submission to their human counterparts. This relates to the dog being in a relaxed muscular state.
How Do I Know If My Dog Is Smiling?
Do you see the corners of your dog’s mouth lift slightly? A dog’s smile looks similar to a human’s.
The ASPCA explained, “A relaxed dog will likely have his mouth open and may be panting, with no facial or mouth tension. The corners of his mouth may be turned upward slightly.” It’s important to understand that while you may see their teeth when they smile — which is commonly a sign of aggression in dogs — the rest of their body language should indicate how the dog is feeling.
A great example of this is the submissive grin. The ASPCA noted, “This is also a gesture where a dog shows his front teeth, but a smiling dog is doing just that. He usually shows a lowered head, wagging tail, flattened ears, a soft body posture and soft, squinty eyes along with those teeth. Teeth don’t always mean aggression—it is important to consider the whole body and the context to understand what a dog is saying.””
While we might be guessing as to whether or not dogs actually smilea, we can now know for sure that being relaxed and content may lead to a smile from your pet. Pay attention to what makes your dog feel the happiest if you’re trying to make that grin appear more often.
Do Dogs Laugh? – Often we find man’s best friend behaving in ways that make them look more human to us than ever.
From nodding at our conversations to helping us out if we are hurt – our dogs have shown “humane” emotions and actions surprising us.
So, if all of this ever made you wonder – “Can my Dog laugh?”, then you are not alone.
Many pet parents (including us!) have had this question. So, we went digging to find you the answers:
Important Discussion Points In This Guide
- Do Dogs Smile?
- Do Dogs Laugh?
- How Do Dogs Laugh?
- What Makes Dogs Laugh?
Do Dogs Smile?
A few indicative signs that your dog is smiling or has a human-like grin on their face is:
Yes, dogs can smile. Or at least they can make a face that is similar to a human smile.
But unlike humans whose smile can be triggered by many factors like joy, amusement etc. A “dog smile” usually occurs when they are relaxed or in play.
- Relaxed ears
- Mouth open with lips pulled back
- Tongue lapping over their front teeth &
- Eyes in a teardrop shape.
Other than playtime, a dog can also smile when they find their favourite human smiling. The phenomenon that causes a dog to smile when we smile at them is similar to “laughter contagion”.
Do Dogs Laugh?
So, do dogs laugh? Yes and No.
When it comes to smiling, dogs can smile similarly to humans. Whereas, dogs do not laugh like humans.
But even though a dog’s “laugh” sounds nothing like a human’s laugh, they do emit this “dog laugh” when they are happy or in play.
How Do Dogs Laugh?
Unlike a human’s laugh, a dog’s laugh sounds more like panting .
Canine laughter mostly starts with a dog smile and then gradually develops into a breathy-panting.
This breathy panting is usually emitted in a “hhuh-hhah” variation. Since, dog’s pant (or laugh) excessively during playtime, this canine laughter is also known as play-pant .
What Makes Dogs Laugh?
“Play-panting” as the name suggests, occurs in dogs when they are playing with their favourite human or with other dogs.
So, activities that can make dogs laugh or play-pants are interactive playtimes , walks/runs or any quality time spent with their pet parent.
Play-panting also has many benefits for your dog. It does not just bring them joy but also helps them relieve anxiety , cool down and stay relaxed.
Another fun fact about laughter and dogs is – dogs can detect your emotions and change of tone.
So, when you (the pet parent) laugh – your dog can sense it’s a happy moment. This can in turn lead them to laugh/smile or wag their tail with excitement.
And sometimes dogs may get into mischief merely to earn your reaction and a giggle for their misbehaviour.
So, that proves it – dogs can respond to joy through “laughs”.
But it is important to note that every dog is unique. In fact, laughter/smile is not the only way a dog can showcase their feeling.
A dog can show their emotion through their whole body by wagging their tail or through raised ears.
So, it is inevitable that not all dogs laugh/smile is going to sound or look the same. But no matter how your dog shows happiness, we hope you and your furball have a joyful journey.
Happy Pet Parenting!
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The researchers identified 65 species that make noise when they play by looking at existing studies. They estimate there certainly could be more chuckling critters out there. Kristina Jackson/Getty Images
As the millions of views that videos of animals dubbed over with human voices can attest, people seem to love nothing more than anthropomorphizing our non-human counterparts in nature. These videos might make us giggle, but what about the creatures that star in them, can they laugh?
The answer, according to a new paper studying animals at play, may be yes—to the tune of some 65 species that researchers pegged as “laughing” during bouts of playful activity, reports Mindy Weisberger for Live Science.
“This work lays out nicely how a phenomenon once thought to be particularly human turns out to be closely tied to behavior shared with species separated from humans by tens of millions of years,” says Greg Bryant, a cognitive scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles and co-author of the study, in a statement.
Most of the 65 species identified by the study, which was published last month in the journal Bioacoustics, were mammals, such as primates, foxes, killer whales and seals, but three bird species also made the list, according to the statement.
For animals, the researchers suggest, a laughing noise may help signal that roughhousing, or other behavior that might seem threatening, is all in good fun.
“[Some actions] could be interpreted as aggression. The vocalization kind of helps to signal during that interaction that ‘I’m not actually going to bite you in the neck. This is just going to be a mock bite,’” Sarah Winkler, an anthropologist at the University of California, Los Angeles and the paper’s lead author, tells Doug Johnson of Ars Technica. “It helps the interaction not escalate into real aggression.”
Winkler witnessed firsthand that vocalizations often accompany animals playing during past work with rhesus macaques, which pant while they play, according to Live Science. To find out how widespread such play vocalizations might be in the animal kingdom, Winkler and Bryant scoured the scientific literature for descriptions of play activity in various animals. In particular, the study authors looked for mentions of vocalizations accompanying playtime.
Per Ars Technica, many of the animal laughs identified by the study sound nothing like a human chuckle. For example, Rocky Mountain elk emit a kind of squeal and, per Live Science, New Zealand’s kea parrot whines and squeaks when it’s time to have some fun.
Back in 2017, another study found that playing a recording of kea laughter around the parrots in the wild would cause the birds to spontaneously break into playful tussles.
Another key difference between human and animal laughter could be its volume and thus its intended audience, according to Live Science. Human laughs are pretty loud, so the whole group can hear, but most animals, by contrast, have laughs that are quiet and may only be audible to the play partner. (By the study’s definition, cats hissing during playtime qualified as laughter.)
Winkler tells Ars Technica that though the study aimed to be comprehensive, that there may be even more laughing animals out there. “There could be more that, we think, are out there. Part of the reason they probably aren’t documented is because they’re probably really quiet, or just [appear] in species that aren’t well-studied for now,” she says. “But hopefully there could be more research in the future.”
Alex Fox is a freelance science journalist based in Washington, D.C. He has written for Science, Nature, Science News, the San Jose Mercury News and Mongabay. You can find him at Alexfoxscience.com.
Sometimes our dogs do the funniest things and we just can’t help but laugh at their latest displays of comedic genius! They make us smile, laugh and let’s face it, burst with doggy love. But can these tables ever turn? Is it physically possible for our dogs to laugh themselves?
Video of the Day
Do dogs laugh?
There is actually a scientific name for the matter at hand. Canine gelotology is the study of how, or if, dogs laugh. Fancy! This field of study is still being developed but researchers have come to some conclusions.
Konrad Lorenz, author of Man Meets Dog (1949), explains in his book that dog laughter is detected through the correlations between social activity, a dog’s lips and panting. When the corners of a dog’s lips are loose and the dog pants rapidly, this is similar to human laughter. Lorenz explains that this physical expression is an “invitation to play”.
Decades later, researcher Patricia Simonet continued Lorenz’s work with a much more detailed and experimental approach. Simonet studied the sounds dogs make during play, noting a “forced breathy exhalation through the mouth.” During experiments and observations, the sound was made even when the dog wasn’t playing hard enough to justify panting. Simonet concluded that a dog’s “laughter” had different sonic content than simple panting alone. The laughter had spikes in the audio, while panting was flatter.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
The effects of dog laughter
Simonet discovered the positive effects dog laughter has on other dogs. In 2005, she conducted an experiment where she played a recording of the higher pitched panting or “doggy laughter” for dogs struggling with stress and depression in an animal shelter. The dogs that heard the recording stopped what they were doing and turned their heads towards the sound. The younger dogs, especially, started to imitate the dog laughs themselves. Simonet concluded that simply hearing the laughter of their peers could help decrease stress while at the shelter. Our hearts melt. Adopt a dog today!
As any pet owner will know, you develop a distinct emotional bond with your animal companion of choice.
You chat with the dog, remonstrate with the hamster and tell your parakeet secrets you would never tell anyone else. And, while part of you suspects that the whole endeavour might be completely pointless, another part of you secretly hopes that somehow your beloved pet understands.
Laughter is contagious, social and something we develop before we can speak. © Getty | Peter Dazeley
More on Nature
But what, and how much, do animals understand? For instance, you know that an animal is capable of experiencing pleasure, but do they experience humour? Can your furry love-bundle understand a joke or stifle a guffaw when you drop a heavy item on your toe? Do dogs or cats or any animal laugh in the same way that we laugh?
Why do we laugh?
The reasons that human beings developed laughter is something of a mystery. Every human on the planet, regardless of the language they speak, does it and we all do it unconsciously. It just bubbles up from deep inside us and we can’t help it happening. It’s contagious, social and something we develop before we can speak. It’s thought that it exists to provide a bonding element amongst individuals, while another theory states it initially originated as a warning sound to highlight the incongruous, like the sudden appearance of a sabre-tooth tiger. So, while we don’t know why we do it, we do know we do it. But do animals giggle, and if not, why not?
Chimps display vocalisations most readily identifiable with human laughter. © Getty | Fotoclick
Understandably as they’re our closest animal relations, chimpanzees, gorillas, bonobos and orang-utans vocalise enjoyment during chasing games or when they are being tickled. These sounds mostly resemble panting, but interestingly the apes that are more closely related to us, like chimps, display vocalisations most readily identifiable with human laughter than a more remote species like the orang-utan, whose mirthful noises least resemble ours. The fact that these sounds are emitted during stimulus such as tickling suggests that laughter evolved before any sort of speech. It’s reported that Koko, the famous gorilla that used sign language, once tied her keeper’s shoelaces together and then signed ‘chase me’ displaying, potentially, the ability to make jokes.
Crows and other corvids are known to use tools to locate food and even pull the tails of predators.
But what about a completely different branch of the animal world like birds? Certainly a few clever avian impersonators such as mynah birds and cockatoos have been seen to mimic laughter and some parrots have even been known to tease other animals, with reports of one bird whistling at and confusing the family dog, purely for its own amusement. Crows and other corvids are known to use tools to locate food and even pull the tails of predators. It was thought that this was purely to distract them while stealing food, but now it’s been witnessed when no food is present, suggesting the bird did it just for fun. So it’s possible that some birds have a sense of humour, and may even laugh, but we haven’t been able to identify it yet.
Dolphins appear to emit sounds of joy while they are play-fighting, to suggest the behaviour is non-threatening to those around them.
Other creatures are also known to laugh, such as rats, who ‘chirp’ when tickled in sensitive areas like the nape of the neck. Dolphins appear to emit sounds of joy while they are play-fighting, to suggest the behaviour is non-threatening to those around them, while elephants frequently trumpet whilst engaged in play activity. But it’s virtually impossible to prove whether this behaviour is comparable to a human’s laughter or just a noise that the animal likes to make during certain situations.
Mews and purrs from cats can mean a number of different things.
So how about the pets in our homes? Are they capable of laughing at us? There is evidence to suggest that dogs have developed a kind of laugh when they are enjoying themselves that resembles a forced breathy pant that is different in sonic texture to the regular panting used to control temperature. Cats, on the other hand, were thought to have evolved to show no emotions at all as a survival factor in the wild. Obviously purring can indicate that a cat is content, but purrs and mews can also be used to indicate a number of other things. Cats also appear to enjoy engaging in a variety of mischievous behaviours, but this could be merely an attempt to attract attention rather than showing off their humorous side. And so, as far as science goes, it seems that cats are incapable of laughter and you can be comforted to know that your cat isn’t laughing at you. Though, if they did ever acquire the ability to do so, we suspect they would.
The association between trait hedonic capacity and schizotypal personality traits was examined in a two studies of independent nonclinical samples. In both investigations, hedonic capacity was measured using the 17-item Anticipatory and Consummatory Interpersonal Pleasure Scale (ACIPS). In Study One, the young adults’ (n = 1345) ACIPS scores were inversely associated with their scores on the Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire (SPQ). In Study Two, two groups of individuals identified on the basis of their scores on the Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire Brief-Revised (SPQ-BR) were compared in terms of their ACIPS responses and response patterns. Our results indicate that the high schizotypal subjects (n =38) and the low schizotypal subjects (n = 37) differed significantly in terms of their mean ACIPS scores, but not in terms of their mean reaction times. Despite differences in study design, both investigations indicated an association between the No Close Friends subscale of the SPQ and the ACIPS total score. These findings are considered in the context of other extant studies of schizotypal traits and the role of anhedonia in schizotypy. Overall, the findings provide further evidence for the criterion validity of the ACIPS.
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Distribution of dopaminergic cell bodies in the median raphe nucleus of the rat brain
An increasing amount of data suggests that a dysfunction in dopamine (DA) neurotransmission is involved in the pathophysiology of various neurological and psychiatric disorders. With this in mind, the distribution and connectivity of the dopaminergic system in the rat brain has been studied extensively. So far, little is known about the distribution of DA containing neurons in the median raphe nucleus (MnR). This nucleus is mainly defined by a large population of serotonin containing neurons. Using quantitative immunohistochemistry, we observed the presence of a small number of DA containing neurons in the rat MnR, which was in contrast to a previous report.
Evaluation of the rotation capacity limits of steel members defined in EC8-3
One issue of major importance regarding the application of seismic assessment guidelines is that of the deformation capacity limits prescribed for the various limit states. In the case of existing steel structures, Part 3 of Eurocode 8 (EC8-3) defines the limits in terms of plastic rotations, which are only applicable to cases where normalized axial load levels are lower than 0.3 and to cross-section classes of type 1 and 2. These limits resemble the ones defined in ASCE 41, suggesting a direct reproduction from the latter document despite their derivation on the basis of typical American profiles. Hence, this paper aims at evaluating the deformation capacity of European steel members and to answer the question of how adequate are the current EC8-3 limits. Based on detailed FE models, the influence of member imperfections, axial load and real ground motion records is assessed. Fracture due to ultra-low cycle fatigue is taken into account and general expressions for predicting the rotation capacity of a wide number of European cross-section profiles are proposed.
A new optimization approach for nozzle selection and component allocation in multi-head beam-type SMD placement machines
This paper addresses a highly challenging scheduling problem faced in multi-head beam-type surface mounting devices (SMD) machines. An integrated mathematical model is formulated aiming to balance workloads over multiple heads as well as improving the traveling speed of the robotic arm by incorporating the appropriateness factors in the model to evaluate the compatibility of component-nozzle pairs. The proposed model is a bi-objective mixed integer nonlinear programming one, which is first converted into a linearized model and then directly solved by using the augmented epsilon constraint method for small problem instances. As the model is turned out to be NP-hard, we also develop a Multi-Objective Particle Swarm Optimization (MOPSO) algorithm to solve the model for medium and large-sized problem instances. The parameters of the proposed MOPSO are tuned by using the Taguchi Method and corresponding numerical results are provided.
Persistence of behaviours in the Forced Swim Test in 3xTg-AD mice at advanced stages of disease
Forced Swimming Test (FST) models behavioural despair in animals by loss of motivation to respond or the refusal to escape. The present study characterizes the behavioural responses of 12-month-old male 3xTg-AD mice in FST as compared to age-matched no-transgenic (NTg) mice. Paradoxical results were consistently found from what would be expected from their BPSD (Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia)-like profile. The comprehensive analysis of the ethogram shown in the FST considered the intervals of the test (0–2 and 2–6 min), all the elicited behavioural responses (immobility, swimming and climbing) and their features (total duration, frequency of episodes and mean duration). Both genotypes showed equal number of swimming episodes and climbing attempts during the first interval, that resulted in high swimming times, short climbing and scarce immobility. Thereafter, the NTg mice showed a behavioural shift over time and the immobility response showed up. In contrast, all the measures consistently evidenced that 3xTg-AD persisted with the previous behavioural pattern. Genotype differences consisted in less number of episodes of immobility and swimming, and a low immobility time in favour of swimming. No differences were found in ‘climbing’ attempts. The behavioural response observed is discussed as a lack of ability of 3xTg-AD mice to shift behaviour over time that may result of poorest cognitive flexibility and copying with stress strategies more than behavioural despair per se.
From the Department of Antropology, University College, Gower Street, London WC1.
Do dogs actually laugh or smile, or does it just look like it? TAG24 has gathered information on the actual meaning of canine expressions.
Do dogs smile when they’re happy? Pups who look like they have a big grin often put a smile on our faces, but do you know if you’re interpreting your pet’s behavior correctly, and if dogs can really laugh?
When dogs pull the corner of their mouths back, it often looks like they’re smiling – but that may not be the case. © unsplash/gotdaflow
Social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube are full of funny photos and videos of what appear to be smiling dogs.
People often infer their four-legged friends’ mood based on their behavior, facial expressions, and gestures.
When a dog becomes a member of the family, human characteristics are regularly attributed to animals. Owners may think their dog is happy in many situations, but that can be a misconception.
What we may believe is a dog’s smile is not always a positive sign. Even if a dog looks happy, it can actually be feeling anxious and insecure.
For a long time, researchers believed dogs can’t laugh at all.
The opinion has since shifted, with many now saying dogs are capable of laughing and smiling, but dogs smile differently than most people believe.
TAG24 takes a look at dogs’ grins, so you can better understand your four-legged friend.
Do dogs actually smile?
Dogs pull back the corners of their mouths when they are happy or want to give off “pleasing” behavior to their owners. © unsplash/Kania Colby
Most photos and videos of smiling dogs don’t show a genuine smile, like you’d see on humans.
A dog’s smile can mean many things. Your furry friend could be stressed or insecure and trying to show their submissiveness. Your pet could also be putting on a satisfied expression while playing or to please you.
If you want to know why your dog is smiling, you need to observe their behavior.
Your dog is stressed when their mouth is open and their lips and ears are pulled back. Their eyes may be narrowed, causing a “stress crease.” They may also stick out their tongue and pant heavily.
But stress isn’t always a negative thing in canines. It can also arise from excitement when playing or going for a walk.
If dogs feel insecure, scared, and threatened, they may show their submissiveness. Pulling the corners of their mouth back, baring their teeth slightly, avoiding eye contact, and spreading their ears to the side are behaviors that are supposed to reassure the other person or animal. Often, dogs may stick out their tongue and lick their muzzle. They want to show they are inferior and don’t pose any danger.
When playing, dogs have a relaxed facial expression. The skin between their eyes and on their foreheads is wrinkle-free. They seek eye contact with humans and other animals. Sometimes the corners of their mouths are turned up.
Many dogs notice their owners are pleased when they pull the corners of their mouths back and put on what humans consider a happy expression. Some dogs smile because they want to please their owners, get their attention, receive praise, and possibly get a treat.
If they get positive feedback, they will repeat the behavior, not necessarily because they are happy, but rather because they want to please you.
Context is key in evaluating your pet’s mood. If the dog is relaxed and feels safe, they may really be smiling.
Do dogs laugh?
Dogs’ laughter, which Charles Darwin himself described, is studied through an entire field of research.
Researchers disagree on whether dogs actually laugh. Whether dogs can laugh out loud was posed in 2004 by Patricia Simonet.
In her study, she noted dogs panting or snorting at a certain frequency after playing, which she equated with laughter.
Other exciting findings on this topic come from behavioral scientist Dr. Dorit Urd Feddersen-Petersen. Examining images and video material, she determined that dogs do laugh, a behavior she characterized as a likely imitation of human laughter.
When dogs laugh, she said they uncover their teeth briefly and jerk several times in succession. The rest of their body is completely relaxed.
TAG24 has uncovered several other mysteries about dogs:
How do I know if my dog is actually smiling?
When dogs really laugh, they display their teeth and appear to have a relaxed attitude. © unsplash/Lucian Dachman
It’s not easy to determine if your dog is really smiling. You can ask yourself two questions to find out:
1. Does your dog show its teeth briefly, several times in a row, by twitching its lips?
2. Does your dog’s body language seem relaxed, friendly, and happy?
If you answer “yes” to both questions, then it’s very likely your dog is genuinely smiling. Possible causes include greeting, playing, scratching, or other physical contact.
Poodles, Greyhounds, and Dalmatians are among the breeds where this behavior has been observed most often. These dogs are not necessarily happier, they’ve just seemed to pick up the behavior from humans more frequently.
Theoretically, however, any dog can exhibit this behavior, and owners can reinforce it by rewarding their pet for smiling, if they choose.
Research indicates that dogs really do laugh, even if it doesn’t always look like it to their owners. This habit likely came about as a result of living with humans.
These clever four-legged friends learn quickly, and who knows what they will surprise us with in the future!
By The Mad Scientists Follow
O.K. You can’t really make your dog laugh. But, strangely enough, there is such a thing as a dog laugh. Producing dog laughter correctly can make your dog sit up, wag his tail, approach you from across the room, and even laugh along.
Step 1: The Lips
Round your lips slightly to make a “hhuh” sound. (The sound has to be breathy with no actual voicing, meaning that if you touch your throat while making this sound, you should not feel any vibration.)
Step 2: The Expression
Use an open-mouthed smiling expression to make a “hhah” sound. Again, breathe the sound; do not voice it.
Step 3: Adding Sound
Combine steps one and two to create canine laughter. It should sound like “hhuh-hhah-hhuh-hhah.” Your dog should follow along by sitting up, wagging his tail, approaching you from across the room, or laughing along.
For many of us, our dog is our best friend, so it’s nice to know how they feel. We can tell when and where they like to be petted, what kind of treats they like, and what toys are their favorite based on how they react. But one thing we might be curious about is if our pups have a sense of humor or if they can laugh.
Dogs with a Sense of Humor
While it’s not the most pressing question about dogs, it’s one that’s fun to wonder about. It turns out that there are dog breeds that are more playful and may have more of a sense of humor. In Stanley Coren’s article “Do Dogs Have a Sense of Humor?,” he references two animal behaviorists who set out to research this topic.
Dr. Benjamin and Lynnette Hart ranked 56 dog breeds on their willingness to chase toys and engage in games. They then sorted them into the following groups: most playful, above average playfulness, average playfulness, below average playfulness, and least playful. More playful breeds included Irish Setters, Golden Retrievers, and Miniature Poodles. These dogs are more likely to have a sense of humor when they play, playing pranks on both humans and other dogs.
Dogs like Basset Hounds, Bulldogs, and Chihuahuas seem to be some of the least playful breeds. These dogs seem to be less willing to show a humorous side, preferring to curl up on the couch and take a snooze rather than chase a ball or play keep away.
You may also wonder if your dog can laugh along with you when you chuckle at his or her antics. It turns out that it may be possible for dogs to laugh, though not in the way that we as humans think of laughing. A dog’s laugh sounds more like a pant than a typical human laugh.
Patricia Simonet at Sierra Nevada College researched laughter in dogs. She found that there was a frequency difference in the sound of regular dog panting and what she classified as laughter. She and her team also found that when they played the laughing sound in animal shelters, it seemed to calm down the dogs. When your dog is seemingly having a good time, listen for something that sounds something like “hhuh-hhuh” as well as an open mouth and their tongue out.
Like people, all are dogs are different. Some may have more personality or a greater sense of humor while others prefer to cuddle up with you and sleep the day away. Some may laugh a lot during play or when they’re enjoying themselves, while others might show that they’re having fun in other ways. It’s important to observe your own pup and see what makes them the happiest. After all, that’s all we want for our four-legged friends!
Marley had jumped up on our bed, as he is allowed to do, but the rule is that he has to get down if he is asked to do so. On this particular night, he seemed exhausted and eager to go to bed. Once ensconced in his favorite spot, he avoided eye contact with all of us. Wherever our faces were, he was looking the other way.
I proposed the idea that perhaps he was trying to avoid being told to get down off the bed, in an “If I can’t see you, you can’t see me” kind of way. This was pure guesswork, but the rest of my family thought it was funny because it really seemed to fit.
We began to act like him, looking away, pretending that nobody could tell us it was bedtime or anything else we didn’t want to hear, and we were all laughing. I caught a glance at Marley, and he looked really unhappy, which is when I said, “I wonder if he feels bad because we’re laughing at him.”
In truth we found Marley endearing and funny, and meant no disrespect, but how did he perceive it? Dogs are so in tune with our emotions and actions, and they are obviously intensely social beings, so it seems possible that he felt himself the object of derision where none was intended.
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It made me sad to contemplate the idea, and my husband and kids felt the same way. We stopped laughing immediately and began to pet Marley as we usually would when we’re all about to go to bed. Soon Marley looked happy again, though still tired.
It’s no fun being laughed at, and it does happen to dogs, whether our intent is hurtful or not. Do you think your dog can tell if others are laughing at his expense?