Have you ever read the book, “Merle’s Door“? Author, Ted Kerasote describes his dog’s huffing or panting sound as a laugh… and further links his “laugh” to a funny human statement or joke. So is his dog really LAUGHING at human funny stuff? He very well could be!
Laughter and Play
If you’ve been a dog owner for a while, then surely you’ve seen your dog depict what could be a “sense of humor”. You or someone else say something funny and you begin to laugh. This is what happens next: Your dog’s tail starts wagging, ears go back slightly, eyes bright and alert… maybe a little smile… Pretty sure those are all signs that he “gets it”! The positive energy laughter emits seems to easily translate to “play” to a dog. It’s not unlikely that when you are laughing, your little friend may get in the “play stance” – head down, face up, and hiney in the air (maybe a wagging tail) – having recognized the lively, joyous feelings associated with laughter. “Happy-talk” or “silly talk” brings about a similar reaction from your dog… the way they throw their ears back, eyes squinting when you playfully raise your voice. Responding to your energy is something your dog is wired to do.
Dogs are notorious clowns. If their antics make us laugh, then they will no doubt continue whatever they’re doing because, first of all, they love being the center of attention, and secondly, they like the positive energy our laughter emanates. Wouldn’t the fact that they act a clown be considered even further evidence that they have a sense of humor? They love making us happy and making us laugh!
The Joke is on You!
Have you seen the video’s on Facebook of dogs playing tricks on their humans… maybe taking a ball or a Frisbee and trying to fake-out their owner by hedging his moves… or stealing undies from the dirty clothes basket and running with them? And don’t you just KNOW they think it’s funny to come out of a pool or stream and come straight up to you and shake water all over you? They get this mischievous look on their little face and their eyes are bright and happy… Doesn’t that indicate that they think it’s ‘FUNNY’??
Dogs react different ways to humor. Boxers and Labs are notorious for being goofy. Most likely, if you’re acting silly, your boxer or lab will join-in on the fun. Then you may have that serious dog… like an older, rescued Lhasa Apso I had in the past. Unnecessary “frolicking” or laughter was just rather unnerving for her. She would give me that “look” … You know it, the “you ridiculous human” look. Then she’d get up and walk away… If she were human she’d probably be shaking her head and going “tsk, tsk, tsk” at my foolishness.
As in anything that has to do with our pets, much of who they are and what they do stem from their upbringing and their experience with humans. If a dog lives with someone who laughs very little or has little interaction with their human, they will probably not develop what we refer to as a “sense of humor”. However, a dog who is raised with playing, laughter, rambunctious kids, an active part of the family, will most likely learn and mirror our emotions to include laughter, play, and humor!