Please note that some posts contains affiliate links & I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links Find out More

Do Dogs Laugh? Keeping Us Happy With More Than Wags

by | Aug 13, 2021 | Dog Training & Care | 4 comments

In these days of uncertainty and frustration, we all could use a few laughs. You might wonder, do dogs laugh like humans? In a word, sorta. Dog laughter comes in different forms, but I’m fortunate to live with three furry comedians. Bravo especially enjoys making me laugh, while Shadow-Pup is a hopeless tease. Karma-Kat watches from his cat tree, aloof and above it all (literally).

do dogs laughDo Dogs Laugh Like Humans?

We know that no two dogs are alike, and their personalities range from stoic to goofy. But do dogs laugh, too? We know that dogs often learn to mimic the human smile, in part because we love it so much and reward with lots of attention. For many years, scientists believed laughter only happened in humans, but that perception has changed.

Veterinarian and ethologist Michael Fox reported in 1998 that dogs used a breathy exhalation during play that might be compared to the human laugh. He noted this sound appeared to be exclusive to play and friendly greetings, and was used to signal the concurrent behavior was no threat. They often describe such signals as a calming signal that relieves stress in other anxious dogs.

Konrad Lorenz, a Pulitzer prize-winning Austrian zoologist and ethologist, also believed dogs had the capacity to laugh. He wrote about it in his book, Man Meets Dog (Routledge Classics, 2002). He agreed with Fox that the “dog laugh” most often happened during play with a beloved human, with the canine somewhat mimicking the human with open mouth and stretched lips in a dog smile or dog grin. But he also pointed to a very specific “doggy laugh” sound that was described as a huffing breathy “laugh pant” behavior.

Research Into Laughing Dogs

More recently, researcher Patricia Simonet followed Lorenz’s speculation with experiments. She recorded dog sounds during the early 2000s in various situations to see how they differed. She recorded dogs while they played at the park, and later analyzed the sounds they produced.

Simonet said the dog laughter sounds like panting, sort of a “hhuh, hhuh” sound. But once she analyzed the recordings, the sounds were quite different than normal panting. Dog laugh-panting included a broader range of frequencies than everyday dog panting produces.

To further test her theory, Simonet played the doggy laughter sounds to a group of fifteen puppies. The sound made them frolic and romp with joy, making her speculate they recognized the laugh-pant as a play signal.

She followed these experiments in 2005 with studies in an animal shelter environment. When recordings of dog laughter played in the shelter, the listening canines acted calmer. We already know that some kinds of music can help calm our pets. Simonet suggests that such positive dog sounds can help relieve stress and help make shelter dogs more adoptable. And that’s a benefit that makes us ALL laugh!

dogs laughterWhat Does Dog Laughter Sound Like?

So yes, dogs laugh! And you can laugh back at your dog, and inspire more happiness. Here’s how to do it.

A dog laugh sounds similar to a human saying, “Ha-ha-ha-ha!” but without sounding the “a” vowel. It’s simply a breathy exhalation. Experiment with reproducing the dog panting laugh sound to see how your dog reacts. Researcher Stanley Coren says his own dogs respond best to a “Hhuh-hhah-hhuh-hhah” with the “hhuh” made with slightly rounded lips. I found one YouTube recording of various dog laugh examples here.

There’s also research that points to a dog sneeze in certain circumstances as being similar to a “canine giggle” of delight. Trainer Turid Rugaas of Norway categorizes a “play sneeze” as a calming signal that tells other dogs the current behavior is no threat but meant in fun. I tried this with my own dog, Magic, and when I sneezed he looked at me with surprise—and then immediately dropped into a play-bow and then danced around the room. The current furry crew reaction in the same way, how neat is that?

Sneezing can prompt a reciprocal sneeze in your puppy, too. After all, laughter is catching and good medicine. Try it! We need all the laughs we can get.

Are Dogs Ticklish?

I don’t consider the leg-kick reflex in dogs as a ticklish response. Dogs might enjoy the contact and respond in predictable ways but they don’t giggle and laugh uncontrollably like people. Whether or not dogs are ticklish depends on the definition of the term. Here’s my take on why dogs leg-kick when scratched.

YouTube Button

Subscribe to Amy’s YouTube Channel

I love hearing from you, so please share your comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

4 Comments

  1. Franklin Steele

    Really fascinating. Who would have thought? Thank you.

    Reply
  2. Phyllis Hiles

    Along as they laugh with us and not at us.

    Reply
  3. chris

    I love the fact that people don’t think animals can have emotions like humans. We think we are the only ones that can do that-how sad for us. It is nice when someone like you writes an article and shows different. I believe all animals laugh and have emotions. They just may not show them like humans do.

    Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. National Love Your Pet Day: 14 Ways How Pets Show LoveAMY SHOJAI'S Bling, Bitches & Blood - […] laugh when they’re happy. Yes, it’s true–dogs have a very special way to laugh. You can sometimes prompt them…
  2. Pet Tail Talk: What Dog & Cat Wagging Tails Tell UsAMY SHOJAI'S Bling, Bitches & Blood - […] beyond the wagging tail or the slurping face-lick. Canine happiness can be expressed in many ways, even laughing! .…

Leave a Reply

Categories:

Recent Posts

Safe Hot Weather Games for Pets: Keep Cats & Dogs Cool in Hot Weather

Yikes! It’s hot-hot-hot here in Texas. We’ve hit triple digits already. Shadow-Pup is NOT happy. He misses his ZOOMIES in the back garden, but I’m afraid to let him overdo too much. It’s time for hot weather games for pets and keeping cats and dogs cool in hot weather. This year, I’ve invested in more indoor fun for Karma-Kat and Shadow-pup, some with the help of pet products companies sharing neato-torpedo products. Here are some of my favorite pet hot weather games, including Tearribles, Purrini, and LifePro Dog Treatmill (giving some schtuff away!).

What kind of cat toys float your kitty’s boat?  Do your pets enjoy water fountains? Would your hot dog relish a cooling bed, or a wading pool? I offer some more hot weather games and tips in the ASK AMY video, below.

And for a flash from the past, enjoy the Magical-Dawg video of some water fun. I need to get that doggy tub out this year and see if Shadow might indulge.

How do your dogs deal with the weather? Please share your tips for keeping hot dogs cool customers!

Fearful Fido? Know the Signs of Dog Fear, Anxiety, and Stress (FAS)

June is Pet Anxiety Awareness Month. Do you have a fearful Fido? Do you need help with the fireworks and loud thunderstorms happening this time of year that makes dogs scared? It seems silly, but some dogs feel stress when their human wears a hat! I wanted to share some resources for recognizing and understanding signs of canine fear, anxiety, and stress.

While it’s normal for dogs to be cautious and not run head on into traffic, too much stress and anxiety isn’t healthy. Fear, anxiety, and stress (FAS) also affect the immune system, impacting both physical and emotional health.

Up to 20 percent of dogs will be born prone to introversion and fear. Proper socialization improves puppy confidence, but abuse or poor socialization can result in anxiety-ridden adults. Pain or illness also can cause anxiety so these dogs associate certain kinds of handling with discomfort. Ongoing anxiety, stress or fear may lead to fear aggression.

Extreme fear interferes with learning, making it even more difficult to help dogs overcome the angst. Fearful dogs quickly recognize that escape behaviors or fear aggression makes the scary situation go away, so they learn to repeat these behaviors…

Chewy Once a Year Blue Box Event: Pet Products Savings for Your Special Pets

Y’all may notice something different about my blog–yes, it’s been spiffed up, thanks to a fantastic web designer! Seems the perfect time to celebrate with some great opportunities for your pets. Once a year, Chewy price drops all kinds of pet goodies in their Blue Box Event–good from June 21 through June 24, so don’t wait. Stock up on all the must-have dog products and cat essentials, as well as pocket pet supplies. Oh, you’ll find way too many bargains for me to list simply by going to this Blue Box Event link. But here are some of my favorites. Shadow-Pup and Karma-Kat put in their orders. Shhh, keep it a secret or your fur buddies may swipe the credit cards and have a fun time!

Get a $25 eCard Gift Card when you purchase $75 worth of select pet products favorites.

Up to 50% Off Select Toys During Chewy’s Blue Box Event.

Up to 50% Off Select Disney During Chewy’s Blue Box Event

Up to 30% Off Once-a-Year Pet Parent Deals During Chewy’s Blue Box Event

Learn about more savings…

Small In Show: Calling All Pocket (and other ) Pets!

Why do dogs and cats get all the love? Well… they deserve it, but so do the #SmallInShow contenders, as Rainn Wilson says. “Small pets are truly overlooked. Everyone goes straight to dogs and cats. But Kaytee is out to show that these little creatures have big personalities and are just as worthy to be part of your family. That’s something that was easy to get behind,” said Rainn Wilson.

No, I’m not compensated to share this. It just tickled me, and we all need some giggles these days. Back in the day, I loved my hamsters Whiskers, Snowball, and Cinnamon, and the first pet article I ever sold (for real live dollar$$$) detailed the story of my rescue parrot, Venus, a spectacle Amazon. Pocket pets deserve the love, too.

Besides, I miss attending Westminster, and certainly understand where Rainn comes from in his disappointment. Enjoy this fun MOCK-umentary from Kaytee. The company is launching its inaugural #SmallinShow Award Show, inviting pet parents of hamsters, bunnies, mice, birds and other small companions to share images and stories of their mini heroes across social media. The #SmallinShow Award Show will culminate with the crowning of three winners who will each receive a one-year supply of Kaytee products….

Work Goes To the Dogs & Cats: PSI’s Take Your Pet To Work Week!

Today, it’s PSI’s TAKE YOUR CAT TO WORK DAY! At my house, every week is Take Your Pet to Work Week. This year, it falls on June 20-24, with the CATS’ day on Monday, and the DOGS’ day on Friday. For many folks who continue to work at home, they experience the joy–and challenges–of work with furry companions 24/7.

Created by Pet Sitters International in 1999 to help promote pet adoptions, this week celebrates the 24th anniversary of the event. I’ve written about this nearly every year, so you’ll recognize some of the pictures in the blog.

This year, of course, we have a new dog, Shadow, helping us celebrate. And we’re still navigating a new “normal” after losing our beloved Bravo following his cancer diagnosis. You’ll see some pictures of Bravo with Karma and Shadow, below, as I can’t bear to remove them just yet…after all, he’s still one of my Furry Muses…

Heatstroke Dangers: Pet First Aid for Hot Weather Play & Travel

These hot summer days, Shadow loves to run and play outside, but the hot weather can lead to heatstroke dangers in dogs as well as people. This week, we topped the thermostat at 101 degrees, and it will continue to hover near three digits all week long. Fun in the sun can quickly turn to tragedy if pet owners don’t take precautions to prevent cat and dog heatstroke dangers. Pet heatstroke is common because cats and dogs can’t effectively keep cool in hot summer weather. It becomes especially dangerous during summer travel in cars. Here’s how to save your pets’ lives if they overheat…

How to Prepare for a Disaster: Pet Preparedness & Tips

With the latest hurricane on the way, it's time to revisit your pet disaster plan. You do have one, right? After Katrina and Harvey, everyone should understand the importance of disaster preparation. June is National Pet Preparedness Month, and in the fall, September...

Check the Chip: All About Pet Microchips

It's Check Your Pet Microchip Day on August 15! It's early to check but everyone needs a reminder. Your cats and dogs are microchipped, right? When he was (ahem) neutered, Shadow-Pup got his microchip. Both Bravo-Dawg and Karma-Kat already had microchips so that if...

Our Pet Memory Garden: Honoring Furry Muses

Those who follow this blog know about our rose garden tribulations. We live on 13 acres, with lots of area to landscape. It remains a work in progress, and I had several ideas for pet remembrance and plants to honor pets like my Bravo, Magic, Seren and others....

Visit Amy’s Website

Amy Shojai CACB is an award winning author.  You can find all her publications and book her to speak via her website. 

On Demand Writer Coaching

AmyShojai.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com http://amazon.com/.

Awards

Memberships

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This