Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Is Your Dog Laughing at You?


A couple of days ago I read this article regarding dogs' panting being laughter. The short story is that at a animal behavior conference in 2001, Patricia Simonet presented that dogs make a distinctive, breathy exhalation during play that can be equated with laughter. The researchers could play a recording of this "laugh" and a puppy would pick up a toy wanting to play. Taking it a bit further recently, when the recorded laugh was played for dogs at a shelter the barking dogs quieted. Other sounds of dogs did not elicit the same calming response in the dogs.

And, I got to thinking if I had noticed this with the many dogs I have been around in my life. I think I can say yes, but there are so many other signs that a dog is happy and enjoying his/herself why would I pay attention to a distinctive sound made by my dogs while playing?

Here's an example from many years ago. Our first dog, The Brute, was (as my father loves to remind me) neurotic, but he loved to play with neutered male dogs or with female dogs. We would take him to Marymoor Park in the Seattle area for the very large off-leash dog play place. One day The Brute came across three Great Danes. The four dogs began to play as the humans talked. The Brute was sorely outmatched in the size department, but he was having fun as evident in his puppy bow posture, his "smile", and his overall body language. His fun turned to delight (the prancing he displayed) when he learned he could use his body to take the front legs out of the Danes rolling them to the ground where he proceeded to gnaw on them from above instead of below. I'm pretty sure The Brute "laughed" when he would chase a cat around our neighborhood. The pants he made when he finally returned were not just from being winded.

And, I have absolutely no idea if White Dragon "laughs" as she is happy all the time. She rarely sulks. I do wonder if our ancient Golden, Molly, laughs.

Do you see your dog laugh? That will definitely be my next poll!

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