Dogs react to various situations differently from humans. It’s fairly easy to see when your dog is happy from their wagging tail. Us humans can sometimes attribute human emotions and reactions to their behavior, too, in an attempt to better understand their behavior.
However, dogs are very different from humans. While we love a good cuddle, sometimes your dog might not want to be wrapped in an enclosed space.
But you can tell when your dog is enjoying your company though, right? And there is a whole spectrum of emotions that make up happiness, as well as different ways that both animals and humans can express them.
So do dogs laugh? And is it possible to make your dog laugh?
At first glance, the answer would be no. This is because dogs can’t laugh in the same way that we humans can laugh.
However, you may notice that your dog makes a sound very similar to what we would consider to be a laugh. This usually happens when your dog is playing, and is displayed as a breathy panting which tends to be exhaled forcefully.
This panting isn’t usually considered to be a laugh in the same way as a human laugh, because dogs usually use this as an invitation to play with them. It is typically referred to as a play-pant, and dogs usually use it in combination with their body language to invite you to play.
They may do this play-pant while play bowing as well, jumping towards you in a teasing manner, or by reaching out towards you with a paw.
It’s also thought that some other animals are able to do this play-pant, too, such as primates.
One animal behaviorist, Patricia Simonet from Sierra Nevada College, has hypothesized that this play-pant can be considered as a type of dog laugh.
She recorded different dogs making the play-pant sound, and found out that this noise has a much more nuanced range of frequencies than a normal dog pant. She also observed that playing these recordings to other dogs was able to calm dogs in shelters, as well as encourage puppies to become more active.
How To Make Your Dog Laugh
The best way to make your dog laugh is to imitate their play-pant laughter. Similarly to how it made those puppies become more active, it will likely cause your dog to mimic your excitement.
If you get the sound right, you should notice that your dog wags their tail, sits up, laughs along, or comes towards you from across the room.
Firstly, you will need to make a round shape with your mouth. You will then need to make a breathy “huh” sound, but make sure not to vocalize the noise.
A great way to make sure that you’re doing it right is to put a hand to your throat. You shouldn’t be able to feel any vibration from your vocal cords.
Next, you can use a more smiling, open-mouthed expression to create a “hah” sound using the same breathy pant.
Remember to breathe the sound, and again, not to vocalize it. You should combine these two steps to create a dog-like laughter. If done correctly, it should get a positive response from your dog.
Do Dogs Really Laugh?
It can be tricky to determine whether this play-pant counts as an actual laugh. Dogs don’t laugh in the same way as humans, just as they don’t react the same way as we would to certain situations.
Whereas some people think their dog looks guilty when they’ve done something wrong, it’s very difficult to quantify whether dogs actually feel guilt.
Evidence suggests that this isn’t the case, and dogs appear guilty because they can remember your angry reaction from last time, and are actually showing you signs of appeasement.
This is simply a case of humans trying to attribute human behaviors to animals, also known as anthropomorphism.
So do dogs really laugh, or is this just us humans trying to see human behavior in them?
You could argue that the play-pant is actually dog laughter. This is because the groundbreaking study by Patricia Simonet discovered that dogs only displayed this play-pant while during playful activities.
So it would be a fairly reasonable assumption that it is the dog equivalent of laughter.
After all, laughter is a physical reaction to something that has amused you, so it’s fairly safe to assume your dog’s play-pant is their way of showing how happy they are.
Do Dogs Think They’re Funny?
Dogs are of course capable of experiencing emotions. We can immediately see this from how they react to certain situations, especially if you’ve noticed your dog using that same play-pant.
So because dogs are able to feel a range of emotions, it only makes sense that they will be able to find things funny.
As we’ve already discussed above, your dog won’t display their amusement in the same way that we humans do. They will do this typically through their body language.
However, it may be a little more tricky to know for sure whether your dog thinks of themselves as funny. It’s hard to really know whether they have the same self awareness as humans, and there would need to be more research done in this area in order to know for sure.
For the time being, we’d say it’s safe to say that your dog probably isn’t all that aware of whether they are funny or not.
And there you have it! While dogs don’t laugh in the same way that humans do, they do use a play-pant which has been determined to represent canine laughter.
This behavior is only displayed during playtime, and is often combined with a range of body language, such as play bowing or jump teasing.
Laughter is of course defined as a physical reaction to something we find amusing, so this play-pant can clearly be understood to be canine laughter.
While it’s not the same vocalization that we humans make, you’ll know that your dog is laughing with you when they use this play-pant.