Can Dogs Laugh?
Does this mean my dog has been choosing not to laugh at my jokes?
Blanche R. Dudley, Ed.D. |
Posted: September 16, 2014, 6 a.m. PST
Dog laughter is controversial. Ethologists, who study animal behavior, suggest that rats, chimpanzees, and dogs vocalize a sound considered to be laughter when playing or in friendly encounters.
Of course, this sound differs from that of a human. Human vocal cords have evolved uniquely from those of dogs and other mammals and can be manipulated to make many sounds, including talking, singing, and laughing. Instead of the "ha-ha-ha” sound of a human, the sound thought to be a dog’s laugh is a breathy exhalation, sort of like excited panting.
The late ethologist and animal behaviorist Patricia Simonet led a study in 2001 to record sounds made by dogs while playing. "To an untrained human ear, it (dog laughter) sounds much like a pant, ‘hhuh, hhuh’” she said during a 2001 meeting of the Animal Behavior Society.
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In her book For the Love of a Dog: Understanding Emotion in You and Your Best Friend (Ballantine Books, 2006), Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist Patricia B. McConnell, Ph.D., adjunct professor of zoology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, says, "We’ve known for years that chimpanzees have a ‘play pant’ that closely resembles laughter. … Not everyone is convinced these sounds (in dogs) should be categorized as "laughter,” but the examples in rats and chimps support its existence. It seems more than reasonable to me that social animals like dogs might make a similar noise. I just hope we never figure out that they’re laughing at us.”
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