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Do dogs laugh ?

December 13th, 2005, 06:48 PM
Behaviorist: Panting Noise Is Dog Laughter

Animal Behaviorist Says Excited Panting Noise That Dogs Make While Playing Is Laughter

SPOKANE, Wash. Dec 12, 2005 An animal behaviorist says she's figured out what dogs are doing when they make that excited panting noise while playing or anticipating a much desired walk. They're laughing.

Patricia Simonet, development and program coordinator for Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service, also found that the sound of dog laughter comforts other dogs. When she played a recording of "play panting" through the speaker system at a shelter in Spokane Valley, all the barking dogs quieted within a minute.

"I wanted to see if I could reduce (the dogs') stress by playing the sound in the shelter," Simonet said. "I was surprised when they were calm and quiet."

Simonet, who will soon complete a doctorate in animal behavior from Northcentral University in Prescott, Ariz., presented her study on reducing shelter dogs' stress at the International Conference on Environmental Enrichment last summer at Columbia University in New York.

She started researching dog sounds in 2001 at Sierra Nevada College in Lake Tahoe, where she was a professor of animal behavior. After coming to Spokane, she began studying how to make shelter dogs feel more at ease.

Simonet and her students started by recording dogs at play. They eventually isolated the growling, whining, barking and the sound she now calls laughter.

About a year ago, she asked Nancy Hill, director of the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service (SCRAPS) if she could use the shelter dogs to determine the impact of dog sounds.

When SCRAPS was closed on Sundays, she would play the tapes for the typically stressed animals.

"This is not home for the dogs," Hill said. "She saw that and wanted to help."

Hill said she was pleasantly surprised with the results. "I've been here for 20 years, and this is the most significant thing I've seen," she said.

Hill is getting estimates to install a sound system that would carry the laughter throughout the SCRAPS kennels. Calming the dogs this way may even make them more presentable for adoption.

Information from: The Spokesman-Review,

December 13th, 2005, 08:04 PM
That is so cool. I mean I always knew that dogs laughed. But the effect of playing it over sound system is amazing.

Natasha Hartman
December 13th, 2005, 09:50 PM
What a sweet, thoughtful thing to do for the poor shelter dogs!!!! I've worked as a volunteer in a dog-store with adult dogs and I can tell you, they are not all that glad to be there. Most of them lose a lot of weight, get sick,fight with others,or stay in a corner and get depressed. ANYTHING that can ease their misery,I'm all FOR!!! CONGRATS!!

December 14th, 2005, 12:06 AM
How did she figure out it was laughing? :confused: If it was laughter, wouldn't they laugh at other times and not just when they're excited?

I've done mini-experiments with my babies... I sat there for a while listening to their heartbeat and when I had the rhythm "memorized," I said, "Do you want to go in the tub?" and "I love you", and for the tub, the heart beat faster and for the love, it beat slower. It was neat because now I know one thing I can say to calm them down a bit if I need to (but I have to say it like I mean it, or they won't believe me...).