Behaviour 2019
Do Dogs Laugh? Revisiting Simonet
Shelly Volsche1, Cameron Brown1, Holly Root-Gutteridge2, Alexandra Horowitz3. 1Boise State University, Boise, ID, United States; 2University of Lincoln, Lincoln, LN6 7TS, United Kingdom; 3Barnard College, New York, NY, United States

Background: In 2001, Simonet reported dogs perform a “forced, breathy exhalation through the mouth,” during dyadic play. These findings have not been replicated or published in the literature. This potential dog “laugh” is worth exploring further in the context of dog-dog and human-dog play as shared emotion is suggestive of empathy.

Methods: Human-dog dyads were audio and video recorded during play, training, and rest. Bioacoustics analysis and behavior observations were done to determine 1) if a distinctive pant occurs during play -- a "play pant"; and 2) whether this pant occurred in conjunction with play-specific behaviors, e.g., play slaps and bows.

Results: Some dogs demonstrated this “play pant” with play behaviors but not during rest or training. Data are still being collected to confirm these findings.

Conclusions: The evidence for laughter in non-human animals is growing. Our initial results appear to confirm some dogs do have a unique “play pant,” which may share the function of laughter when directed at humans. Further work with dog-human play may shed light on how the coevolution of these two species shaped interspecific communication and shared emotional states.