A Samoyed dog that might be having a laugh.

Can Dogs Laugh? The Definitive Answer!

5 mins |

Dogs are often playful and enjoy spending time with us, and since they mimic their owner’s behavior you might ask yourself, “Can dogs laugh”? Let’s keep reading and find out more about our humorous fur balls.

Dogs can laugh, but they don’t do it the same way humans do. In humans, it comes out as a vocalized and rhythmic involuntary action. In dogs, it is described as opening the mouth and stretching it “from ear to ear” while keeping the tongue out. It is often seen when dogs are playing with their owners and their favorite toys.

Do Dogs Have A Sense Of Humor?

Over time, dogs have been bred to have an immature mind, which is similar to neoteny (the retainment of juvenile features) in humans. This stage of development is thought to be responsible for playful behavior in dogs and is similar to a sense of humor in humans.

Charles Darwin was the first to notice this phenomenon. A dog’s sense of humor, like that of humans, is unique. According to research, certain breeds have a stronger sense of humor than others, which means they may laugh more.

What Makes Dogs Laugh?

A Samoyed dog that might be having a laugh at something.
Although it’s hard to tell, this Samoyed might just be laughing at something!

When you first get a dog, you’ll be learning a lot about each other. One of the things you’ll learn as their owner is what makes them tick, what tasks they enjoy, what games they like, and so on. 

If you play a game of tug-of-war with your puppy, you might find that it is one of those games that makes you laugh. As you spend more time playing with your dog, you’ll get to know their personality and, hopefully, discover what they find amusing too.

If you have more than one dog, you may discover that they can also make each other laugh. This can happen, for example, when they play with each other or when they’re playing with their favorite toys.

Do Dogs Know When We Are Laughing?

Have you ever noticed how your dog’s mood changes according to yours? Well, it’s no wonder people consider them humans’ best friends. Believe it or not, as they grow they start to understand humans more and more, and so their happiness is a learned response from us. 

Dogs have brain areas dedicated to understanding dog barks and human sounds. They also see our facial expressions and start recognizing a human’s smile as positive feedback. So, if you get home happy from work, your dog will be twice as happy. Pet parents need to understand that directly or indirectly, we have a huge impact on our dog’s mood. 

Do Dogs Try To Make Us Laugh?

Dogs do attempt to make us laugh. Dogs understand social cues well enough to recognize that laughing is good. They realize that laughter indicates play, and play is a good thing for them. Laughter relieves stress and anxiety and promotes the development of the human-animal bond. So, depending on your dog’s sense of humor, they may do stuff to try to make you laugh.

What Does Dog Laughter Sound Like?

Rhythmic, verbalized, expiratory, and unintended actions make up human laughter. Any variation of “ha-ha” or “ho-ho,” for example. Dogs make a similar sound by panting forcefully—a “huh-hah” variation.

Dogs commonly make this sound while playing to invite people and other dogs to play too. It is known as a “play-pant.” The play-pant sound is a type of breathing, not a vocal sound.

It has been described as having open jaws that reveal the tongue and a tilted angle of the mouth that stretches almost from ear to ear. This ‘laughing’ is most commonly observed in dogs playing with their owner, and they get so excited they start panting.

Do Dogs Get Embarrassed When People Are Laughing At Them?

No, dogs do not feel embarrassed when they are laughed at. While dogs can differentiate between positive (laughter) and bad (sadness) emotions, it is believed that they are not able to understand the social cues needed to separate between being laughed at and laughing with someone.

Pups do not understand social norms, and the embarrassment comes out of feeling ashamed while breaking socially acceptable behavior. So, when they see you laugh, they will continue jumping around and being goofy, since seeing you smile makes them feel like they’ve achieved their most important task of the day.

Are Dogs Ticklish? Can Tickling Make Dogs Laugh?

Tickling is a great way to get a human to laugh, but are dogs ticklish? The obvious answer is yes! Try giving your dog a soft stroke on their tummy, or paws and see the response! 

When a dog is tickled, most studies and experiences show they will exhibit happy behavior such as turning around, sticking their tongues out, or demanding that you repeat the behavior if you stop. A healthy dog will respond to tickling on the belly, ribs, or paws with the “scratch reflex”. It will start with an uncontrolled movement of their legs and may continue with their specific type of laughing or wiggling of the tail.

However, not all dogs enjoy tickling. Although most dogs enjoy tickling and cuddling, always be aware before “starting a tickling war” with your furry friend. Every dog is unique, but experimenting with finding their favorite tickle spots is almost always a positive experience for both of you, and may even evoke a doggy chuckle.

Key Takeaways: Can Dogs Laugh?

Dogs, like humans, can laugh in a unique way. That’s just one of many reasons dogs and humans get along so, so well.

So, have you ever noticed your dog laugh? Do you think it has a sense of humor? Share your funny moments with us in the comments below, and let’s laugh together!

Sandra is a veterinary undergraduate student based in Macedonia. She combines her two passions: veterinary medicine and writing, and she also tends to raise awareness about animal welfare as much as she can. As a student, she has attended many seminars and conferences related to the veterinary profession, and currently, she is focused on veterinary content writing. Although she owns a cat, she strongly claims that “dogs are her favorite people”.