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Can dogs laugh?

Updated on February 17, 2012

A timber wolf howled, an owl hooted. The snake hanging on the limb of a tree hissed. The squeaking monkey threw banana peels on the dirt road. The field mouse nibbled the skinny leg of the hunter while the tiger hiding on the nearby bush roared with all its might. Someone screamed, scampered and slipped on the banana peels. There goes the haughty and boastful hunter. All the animals guffawed and rolled on the ground with laughter! Do animals, like humans indulge in a good laugh or do animals laugh only in children’s story books?

Laughter, while being the best medicine is apparently, also a universal language. People of different nationalities would either chuckle or guffaw once a hilarious scene is witnessed…understanding the language or not. Although the reasons why animals laugh were not known, scientists believed that animals have a good laugh every now and then. Studies conducted on canine behavior have found out that dogs are one of the animals that can laugh. The study has also shown that a dog’s laughter has calmed stressed dogs in animal shelters. Laughter is indeed a medicine.

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The laughter of a dog

Some people are skeptical when they hear the pronouncement of canine behaviorists that dogs can laugh given that dogs bark, whine and growl but never make the laughing sounds of humans. A dog’s laugh is pretty similar to a pant. The laugh though is a breathy exhalation forced from the dog’s mouth. The laughing vocalization of a dog may sound similar to the ha ha of humans but with the vowel removed so that the sound that will come out will be similar to releasing air from the mouth forcibly.

A form of canine communication

It would certainly be super if dogs can talk. As Fido is not capable of talking, the human family of the dog has to make do with the whining, barking, howling and growling as well as the body language to understand the pet. Dogs make use of the different parts of the body to communicate. The pricked ears, the bared teeth, the wagging tail certainly conveys a message. Studies have shown that the vocalization considered to be a dog’s laugh is heard when the dog is playing or during friendly encounters with recognized humans and other dogs.

Why do dogs laugh?

The reason for the dog’s laughter is unknown. It was established that dogs laugh. Using a sonograph, the panting and the laughing sound were analyzed. It was found out that the vocalizations differ. The varied bursts of frequencies differentiated a laugh from a pant. However, the reason why dogs laugh is not known.

The dog’s laughter…a kind of medicine?

Laughing brings healthful benefits to people. Laughter has relieved stress, lowered blood pressure and produces hormones that promote growth and the proper functioning of the circulatory system in humans. Laughter has healthful benefits to canines too. A recording of a dog’s laugh was played back in an animal shelter where dogs are commonly highly stressed due to the prison-like environment. Surprisingly, the recording was able to calm and quiet the barking. The laughing sound has enticed the dogs to play.

Laughing Dog

cute laughing dog


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