Do pets have a sense of humor? Sort of. Our pets entertain us with their amusing antics, but have you ever wondered if they laugh at something they think funny? Pets light up when they see us smile and laugh, so it doesn’t take a great leap of faith to think they do understand this. Dogs, especially, respond to our positive cues, and our laughter over something they have done can have them respond in turn.

A variety of species seem to display laughter or humor. Is laughter among animals just a simple reflex or is it a sophisticated display controlled by the part of the brain called the hypothalamus, in charge of emotions? The team at Union Lake Pet Services wants to know if pets have a sense of humor and are sure you do, too!

Do Pets Actually Laugh?

As it turns out, they do. According to a research scientist at the University of Washington, Jaak Panksepp, rats in the lab have been noted to respond to certain situations with “high-pitched” chirps. These chirps only occurred at times when the rats were playing and socializing. The researcher then set about to tickle the rats and measure their sounds. (Rats, it seems, are ticklish!) As it turns out, when they were tickled, they emitted the same chirps.

Take the famous case of Koko the gorilla…Koko mastered 200 signs in American Sign Language and was able to identify a range of emotions, including being amused. In fact, one of her responses to the question, “What is hard” was both “rock” and “work”. Everyone laughed! She also frequently joked with her handlers and people who came to visit.

Everyone loves the fact that parrots can “parrot” our behavior by mimicking back our sounds. They may not understand humor, but they do respond to our smiles and vocal cues like laughter. Since many pets are motivated by the positive reinforcement of their owners, this seems to have given them a unique range of complexity when it comes to their emotional lives.

Many other species have been studied based on playfulness, range of emotions, and laughter-like noises, including birds, cats, mice, and chimpanzees. 

Do Pets Have a Sense of Humor?

You may have never heard your pet LOL (laugh out loud), but you suspect that they have a chuckle along with you on occasion. We still have no definitive answer on whether our pets have a sense of humor. Still, we know that they bring us joy and laughter, and in turn, we bring them happiness and love.

At ULPS, we know pets have a way of tickling our funny bone. If you have any questions about your funny pet or would like to schedule an appointment, please do not hesitate to call.