Does your dog ever make you laugh ' on purpose? Does he know he's being funny? An even stranger question ' does your dog find things funny?
There are countless stories of dog antics and behavior that are funny, but most of those you'd have to say are unintentional. Humorous behavior may be repeated because of the positive reaction received.
In this case, you can't say the dog has a sense of humor, but is acting on positive reinforcement.
But dogs may be a little smarter than that. Just as some people enjoy making others laugh, it would seem, so do some dogs. Author Stanley Coren tells of his Cairn Terrier, Flint, who frequently seemed to try to amuse his owners.
On one occasion, Stanley's wife Karen was having friends over for coffee. Flint hung around the guests, perhaps hoping for a morsel of food. Karen shooed the dog away and told him to go find something interesting to do.
Flint obediently left, only to return with one of Karen's undergarments in his mouth. Coren writes, "Evading capture, he proceeded to flagrantly snap it from side to side with great joy
- to the amusement of the company and the dismay of my wife."
Did the terrier know he was being funny? Hard to say, but Coren says Flint did get a great deal of enjoyment out of it.
Now, there are many levels of humor. There's basic physical humor like slapstick, up to very high-level humor that requires visualization and imagination to appreciate, such as the type comedian Steven Wright so dryly delivers.
A dog's world of humor would have to be mostly on the physical level, through simply behaving in a goofy manner, or playing little tricks on you.
Of course, some really intelligent dogs may even enjoy a little psychological humor. One dog owner blogs, "I guess you could say' that I startle easily. And now, I live with The Crow - she's an unusually smart dog with a wicked sense of humor.
She's decided it's funny to ambush me from the shower stall. Ha ha. Ha. Now I know she's likely to be there, and it doesn't scare me anymore ... not much, at least. Still, there's always a small start when I don't realize she's in there and I turn to see this."
It's really not so hard to believe that dogs have the mental prowess to grasp humor, since they so readily grasp the concept of play. Dogs completely understand the difference between play and something more serious, and are careful to make the distinction.
For example, one tiny Yorkshire Terrier named Missy is exceedingly careful to make sure the line between play and not-play is very clear. Missy loves to growl and yap ferociously when playing a game with a person.
But she'll abruptly call a time out by running over and licking her human opponent most humbly, as if to say, "Hey, you know this is only a game, right? You know I wouldn't hurt you." (As if her five pounds of fluff could ever be a threat.)
Once Missy is satisfied that all parties understand that it's only a game, she'll go right back to it, acting out her savage beast within.
W. H. "Hank" Halliday, of Wolf Awareness Inc. in Ontario, Canada contends that if dogs have a personality, why not a sense of humor? "Since personalities are a fact in these canids (dogs and wolves), I would suggest humor cannot be far behind.
When my dog plays, it is not mechanical. He changes the rules to have "fun" with me. He certainly teases me and I would suggest that teasing is a form of humor."
As these stories illustrate, if you've ever suspected your dog was making you the punch line to his joke' you were probably right.
Dog Gets a Good Joke