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Do dogs know when you’re laughing at them?

Do dogs know when you’re laughing at them?

You may be aware that dogs are masters of picking up on human emotions. They know when you are happy, sad, and when you don’t feel well. Do they know when you are laughing at them? 

Do dogs know when you’re laughing at them?

Yes, dogs know when you are laughing. They can hear it by the tone of your voice, as well as the sound of laughter itself. 

Dogs Understand Emotions

Studies have shown that dogs are surprisingly adept at recognizing emotions, even in other species. Until now, primates were the only animals to be capable of interpreting visual and auditory cues and combining them into an understanding of an emotion. Humans alone were capable of doing this with other species. Now, it turns out that dogs possess this ability as well. 

This means that your dog can understand your facial expressions and voice. They can recognize when you are happy and when you are sad. Does this mean they know what laughter is?

MRI scans have also revealed that dogs react differently to different sounds. They react positively to positive sounds, including laughter, and negatively to negative sounds.

The part of the brain that processes sound, known as the auditory cortex, also had a stronger response to human sounds than non-human sounds. 

Happy Owner, Happy Dog

Dogs know when you are happy, and when you are laughing. In most cases, you being happy makes them happy as well. Dogs are very social animals, and live in a pack hierarchy in the wild. 

It makes sense that the dogs in the pack would want the alpha to be happy, and that they would be more happy and relaxed if the alpha was. It’s possible that this translates to desiring a happy owner in domesticated dogs. 

Dogs seem to have an innate desire to please their owner. This is why verbal praise works so well as a training reward. Your dog truly wants you to be happy. 

Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement may also play a role in your dog recognizing laughter. If you laugh at them, they have your attention. They are more likely to get a treat, pets, or verbal praise. If they receive a positive reward for the behavior that led to the laughter, they may continue to do it in hopes of being rewarded again. 

Do Dogs Have a sense of Humor?

Some experts believe that dogs do have a sense of humor. It may vary somewhat from the humor humans possess. However, humor is very subjective, even among other humans. What you find funny another person may find disgusting or offensive. 

Humor is difficult to define, and harder to explain fully. We instinctively know when something is funny to us, but most of the time we can’t explain why it’s funny. 

There are some indications dogs have their own sense of humor. Of course, you won’t find them telling knock-knock jokes. Instead, their humor usually consists of practical jokes. Have you played fetch with your dog, and had them wait until you were about to grab the object in their mouth to run away? Did they seem to be smug or even smiling when they did it? Perhaps they thought it was funny. 

Dogs Laugh Too

It turns out dogs laugh! The sound is different than a human laugh, but it seems to serve the same purpose. It’s actually a certain type of pant. Dogs use the pant when they are very happy or playing. When other dogs hear it, they will play bow, wag their tail, or initiate play. This behavior suggests it’s essentially their way of laughing. 

Is There a Difference Between Laughing At or With Your Dog?

We’ve all been laughed at, at some point in our lives. It’s not a pleasant experience. It evokes feelings of shame, embarrassment, humiliation, and anger. When someone is laughing with us, the feelings are completely different. We are relaxed, happy, and laughing either figuratively or literally.  

Laughing at someone causes them to distance themselves emotionally. Laughing with someone will create a closer bond. Given the drastic differences between the way humans respond to the two situations, you may wonder if your dog knows the difference. 

Opinion on this differs. Some experts believe that dogs can feel feelings of embarrassment, while others insist it is a human emotion. Embarrassment is defined as feeling discomfort due to breaking social norms. While dogs have different social norms than people, they certainly exist. It’s also possible that dogs understand our social norms to a degree that we don’t yet understand. 

Dogs are skilled at detecting the tone of voice and inferring emotions from it. It’s certainly possible they can tell the difference between friendly laughter and ridicule or laughing at their misfortune. 

Do dogs know when you smile at them?

Yes, dogs know when you smile at them. They also understand what it means, and react to your smile. 

Dogs Love to See You Smile

Not only does your dog know when you are smiling, they enjoy it. One way to know your dog loves your smile is to watch their reaction. We often smile without even realizing it. However, the next time you realize that you have a genuine smile on your face, watch the way your dog reacts. 

Many dogs will wag their tail. If your dog’s tail is in the neutral position and wagging slowly, this indicates they are happy and relaxed. If their tail is high and wagging quickly, this means they are excited. 

They may stare at you as well. This is a sign of love and affection, particularly if they give you puppy dog eyes. Puppy dog eyes happen when your dog raises their eyebrows. This widens the eyes. 

Research Supports Dog’s Understanding Your Smile

To gauge the reaction to a smile, researchers monitored the dogs when their owner smiled at them. They also monitored the dog’s reaction to seeing food. 

They knew that food would evoke excitement and happy emotions. However, the dog’s facial expressions didn’t change when they saw food. When they saw their owner smile, they would give happy puppy dog eyes. 

They also noticed that the dog’s expressions were less likely to change when their owner wasn’t looking. This suggests that dogs not only understand our smile, but communicate with us through their own facial expressions. 

Why does my dog get upset when I laugh?

Dogs love to please their owners, so you might be surprised if your dog gets upset when you laugh at them. Are they offended because you are laughing at them?


Experts may be divided on a dog’s ability to feel embarrassment, but many owners believe they do. They mention signs like hiding, looking down, tucking their tail, and an unhappy stare. They may become shy, refusing to meet their owners eyes, or even hide their face with their paws. 

Thinking You Are Hurt

It’s possible your dog misreads your laugh as a cry or a sign of pain. In this case, it’s understandable that they get upset. Dogs are usually very good at reading their owner’s emotions, but just like humans, misunderstanding is a possibility. 

Feels Threatened

It’s also possible that your dog feels threatened by your laugh. Again, this is rare because dogs usually decode emotions well. In this case, it may depend on the tone of your laugh. A “mean” laugh may be more likely to be misinterpreted as aggression. 

When we laugh, we open our mouth, showing more teeth than we normally do. It’s possible that this can be seen as a sign of aggression, because dogs show their teeth in a snarl. 

Dislikes Loud Noises

Many dogs are afraid of loud noises. If your dog reacts negatively to other loud noises, like vehicles, slamming doors, or thunder, this is likely the issue. 

The best way to get a dog over a phobia of loud noises is exposure therapy. The way to do this is to expose your dog to the sound at low volume. You’ll want to do a fun activity with them at the same time, so they will associate the noise with something positive. Petting them, playing fetch, or giving them a treat are good options.  Increase the volume over time,  lowering it anytime your dog gets anxious or uncomfortable. 

When desensitizing a dog to your laugh, controlling volume isn’t an exact science. You may need to fake laugh so you can control the volume of your laugh. 

Do dogs like it when you talk to them?

Some owners feel a little strange talking to their dog, while others chat with their pooch frequently. You may wonder if your dog enjoys it when you talk to them, or if you are just wasting your breath. It turns out dogs do enjoy it when you talk to them. 

Signs Your Dog Enjoys Being Talked To

When you talk to your dog, you may see them wagging their tail, giving puppy dog eyes, or even smiling. You’ll notice that they are looking at you intently, which is a sign they are happy and interested in the conversation. 

Reasons to Talk to Your Dog

There are several reasons to talk to your dog. It can deepen the bond between you and your dog, because speaking to them is a form of communication. Even when they can’t understand exactly what you are saying, they will know that you are paying attention to them. 

Dogs also read your emotional cues when you are speaking to them. Even when they can’t understand the words, they will pick up on how you feel when you are speaking to them. They will watch your facial expression, body language, and tone of voice. 

Surprisingly, it can also be beneficial for you. It can give you a listening ear to share your thoughts and feelings with. Your dog will be nonjudgmental, so you are safe to speak about whatever is on your mind. 

How Should You Talk to Your Dog?

When talking to your dog, how and what you say both matter. Research has shown that dogs react more favorably when the owner uses “dog speak”. Dog speak is similar to baby talk. It’s spoken at a higher pitch than regular conversation, and often has a rhythmic quality to it. It also conveys lots of emotion and excitement. 

The other aspect of talking to your dog is the words you use. Dogs are more likely to listen when the content is relevant to them. Yes, dogs do know many of the words you say. Most dogs can learn between 150-200 words. 

If you are telling your dog you are going to get your hair done, they will likely quickly lose interest in what you are saying. However, when you mention feeding them or going for a walk, they are sure to listen intently.