Dog Laughter: Recorded Playback Reduces Stress Related Aggression in Shelter Dogs

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During play encounters dogs vocalize using at least four distinct patterns; barks, growls, whines, and a breathy pronounced forced exhalation (dog-laugh) (Simonet, 2001). Further, dog-laughs are used to initiate play. Upon hearing a dog-laugh subjects use a playface and chase or play-bow with the individual producing the dog-laugh, whether the individual is dog or human (Simonet, 2001). This study employs a recorded playback of the dog-laugh vocalization, investigating how this vocalization ameliorates dog stress upon entry to and duration of stay at a mid-size county animal shelter. Stress is measured by an ethogram of behaviors (including, panting, salivating, pacing, barking, cowering, lunging, play-bows, sitting, orienting, and lying down) and by recording the ambient noise level of the kennel. This experiment uses a within subjects cross-over design comparing the same dogs to themselves in two different conditions; baseline condition – no playback, and the experimental condition – playback. Dogs experienced a significant reduction of stress behaviors during dog-laugh playback. In addition, during the experimental condition dogs expressed an increase in pro-social behaviors such as, approach and lip licking (Bekoff & Allen, 1998).

Simonet, P., Versteeg, D., and Storie, D. (2005). Dog Laughter: recorded playback reduces stress related aggression in shelter dogs, Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference on Environmental Enrichment, Wildlife Conservation Society. New York, NY, pp. 170-176.


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Topic(s): Environment, Environmental Management and Monitoring, Noise Levels, Shelter and Rescue