Do dogs smile? It’s amazing how often animals seem to mimic human behavior. Dogs can appear to mirror our behavior and even exhibit the same facial expressions and emotions that we display. So do dogs smile and laugh?
Is my dog laughing?
Animal behaviourists have long debated about whether dogs can laugh. Although not all agree, the consensus is that dogs cannot laugh in the same way that humans do.
They can however, make a similar sound to a person laughing, which they typically exhibit when they forcefully pant during play. It is understood that dogs use this noise to invite humans and other dogs to play with them. Several animal species have been observed to play-pant, including primates.
Dog play-pants are combined with body language that invites you to play such as play bows, a paw reaching out to you or teasing jumps towards you.
What does a dog laugh sound like?
All laughter is a sound made by exhaling and inhaling air. Dog laughter is created by panting without any vocal sounds. You can actually mimic this sound yourself when playing with your pet.
Do dogs smile?
There are frequent photos online of dogs appearing to smile and grin at a camera, but much like laughing, dogs don’t smile in the same way that humans do.
But do dogs smile in any sense? Well the answer to do dogs smile is a little more complex. Dogs can make their faces appear to smile. A dog smile usually occurs when they feel relaxed and happy, which is why dog owners think it is a smile.
Dogs are pack animals and may appear to smile because we smile at them. It may be that they are attempting to mimic the behavior of their pack.
Th reality is that a dog’s smile often indicates that they are not threatening to challenge the pack leader but are happy to follow the group. Pack leading dogs rarely smile.
They think of themselves as equals and have no need or desire to signal their deference and avoid conflict. This doesn’t mean that they are aggressive, just that they are confident of their position in the pack.
An aggressive ‘smile’ is a different case altogether. If your dog is smiling with their teeth bared, they are giving a clear signal that others should back away and give them space. Do not encroach on a dog that is pulling this kind of face, it’s a way of warning you that they don’t want to engage with you or others at that time.
Is my dog happy?
Although dogs can’t laugh or smile like humans do, they can show that they are happy. Many people think dogs wag their tails to show happiness, but this isn’t necessarily true. Dogs use their tails for a range of communications and the message depends on the tail’s position.
- A neutral position of the tail means that the dog is relaxed
- When dogs drop their tails to a lower position, it’s a sign of submission and anxiety
- When dogs raise their tails in the air it’s an aggressive or dominant motion
- Tail wagging across breeds is generally linked to excitement
Instead of focusing on whether your dog is smiling or laughing, it makes more sense to look at the dog’s body language and actions to see if they are happy.