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Some dogs blessed with a sense of humour similar to children's, says expert


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https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-09-24/dogs-have-a-sense-of-humour-stanley-coren-says/100482444

 

keep scrolling after each photo as the article doesn't copy and paste properly

 

Some dogs blessed with a sense of humour similar to children's, says expert

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Posted 37m ago
A dog lies on a lawn smiling next to a colourful ball.
Bubbles' owners say they are regularly laughing at her actions and funny personality. (

Supplied: Lisa Maree

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Have you ever felt your dog has played a practical joke on you, particularly when it's displaying a grin that doesn't look like it's just panting?

You're not alone.

Key points:

  • Psychology professor Stanley Coren believes some dogs' playful behaviour shows they are clearly having a laugh
  • He believes the human correlation between playfulness and sense of humour can be witnessed in dogs
  • Some dog breeds are more playful than others, with chihuahuas among those lacking a sense of humour 

According to dog expert and psychology professor Stanley Coren, certain breeds do indeed have a sense of humour and it is often at their owner's expense.

"This was suggested way back in 1872 by none other than Charles Darwin, who wrote a book on the emotions of animals and man," he told ABC Radio Adelaide.

"He suggested there are things that dogs add to their play that seem to be the doggy equivalent of practical jokes.

"The most typical one is their game of keep away, where if you toss something to a dog, he'll grab it, run a distance away, then drop it on the ground and wait there until you come close, then grab it and run away."

A man holds two little dogs
Emeritus Professor Stanley Coren with his playful dogs Flint and Wiz.(

Supplied: Stanley Coren

)

The 14-year war

The Professor Emeritus in the Department of Psychology at the University of British Columbia recalled how a "war" went on for 14 years between his cairn terrier, Flint, a playful breed, and his school teacher wife, Joan, who prized "order, quiet and predictability".

"One day she had a group of her friends over for an afternoon coffee and Flint was doing his usual thing by hovering under the table hoping that somebody would bend down and pat him or something edible would fall on the floor," Professor Coren said.

"My wife thought he was going to bother people so she shooed him out of the room and basically said something in the vicinity of: 'Go find something interesting to do'.

"Flint was a very clever dog with a sense of humour and took her at her word.

"He dashed out of the room with a definite sense of purpose and a few minutes later reappeared carrying one of Joan's undergarments, which he blatantly snapped from side to side with a lot of joy, to the amusement of her company."

A black labrador smiles while laying on the ground
Tama's owner says the labrador will smile because he knows it will get a laugh.(

Supplied: Joe

)

The poodle strikes back

Professor Coren also recalled a day his friend brought over a standard poodle and another friend visited with a pomeranian.

A black and white whippet lies upside down on a bed with his eyes open
Obi's owners believe him to be the weirdest, quirkiest dog they've ever met. (

Supplied: Beth Fisher 

)

"The pomeranian was just being a pest, running around and banging at the poodle, who had been at my house many times," Professor Coren said.

"At the time we had one of those big old-fashioned, oversized bathtubs with the lion-paw feet and at one point Brandy, the poodle, became very annoyed and suddenly grabbed the pom by the scruff of her neck like a mother might.

"The poodle carried the little pom into my bathroom, dropped it into the bathtub where the walls were too high for the pom to get out, and all of sudden began to twirl around with her tail banging back and forth as if to say, 'Look at that. Haven't I cracked the greatest joke in the world?'"

Listeners tell their own 'tails'

ABC listeners in Adelaide and Perth responded by sharing their own stories about playful pets through social media and the text line.

"My kelpie will stand and moderately bark to go outside … he'll wait till the door opens, where he'll do a u-turn, jump on the couch and I swear he's smiling." — Anonymous

"Bozley's latest game is running away with our socks while we are trying to get ready for work. He is very stealthy at this. Stalking worthy of a cheetah." — Lisa

"My dog Marley loves the camera and one day we took some selfies and he copied every one of my facial expressions and smiles. It was hilarious and he knew it, lol." — Brendan

"I have a great sense of humour. I love to drop my crocodile under my human's feet while they are on the phone so they are interrupted by its farting noise." — sent on Dash's behalf by his owner

A brown and white dog in a house corridor with a green crocodile toy in its mouth
Dash likes to drop squeaky toys under his owner's feet while they're on the phone.(

Supplied: Dash's owner

)

Not all dogs laugh

But not all dog breeds have a sense of humour.

Professor Coren pointed to a study undertaken by Benjamin Hart and Lynnette Hart at the University of California-Davis, in which a group of experts ranked 56 breeds in terms of playfulness, such as their willingness to chase balls or frisbees and play games like hide-and-seek.

A squash nosed dog looks up at its owner from the floor.
Bozley likes to run away with his owners' socks while they're getting ready for work. (

Supplied: Lisa Pollock

)

That study found that Irish setters, English springer spaniels, cairn and Airedale terriers, golden retrievers and standard poodles were among the most playful, while at the opposite end, chihuahuas, rottweilers, bulldogs and bloodhounds were the least playful.

"They are much more staid, stick-in-the-mud kind of dogs," Professor Coren said.

But he added it was about more than a dog acting playful, pointing out that there was a very high correlation between humans who had a strong sense of humour and who were also playful.

"We can't crawl into a dog's head and ask, 'Did you do that because you thought it was a prank?'" he said.

The side profile of a dog's face as it looks at the camera
Luna often has what her owner describes as a "cheeky" look in her eye. (

Supplied: Julia Ellen

)

"One of the reasons why dogs are such good companions is because they don't actually talk.

"But when their behaviour is very much like the dog is trying to provoke a response in you, that's very much like a sense of humour and certain dogs have it to the nines."

'You don't tell jokes to walls'

Professor Coren also responded to questions about whether it was just a dog seeking attention.

A man and a border collie both appear to smile in a selfie
Marley likes to imitate his owner's facial expressions while posing for selfies.(

Supplied: Brendan

)

"The same personality type that has the strongest sense of humour in people is also the same personality type which creates a lot of attention," Professor Coren said.

"The answer is yes, they do want attention, but we look at it this way: you don't tell jokes to walls."

He said the key to understanding dog behaviour was to consider their mind was equivalent to a two to three-year-old human, claiming dogs had the same sense of humour you would get from a child.

"Certain clusters of dogs have an incredible sense of humour and, for them, their motto is 'Nothing is worth doing unless it creates a furore,'" Professor Coren said.

Two blonde labradors smile from the back seat of a car
These two labradors are regular smilers, according to their owner.(

Supplied: Peter Collings

)
Posted 37m ago
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Borzoi have a reputation for having a quirky sense of humour. They don’t chase balls and such much, but they come up with behaviours that make their people laugh, and presumably amuse themselves too. 

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I'm not a huge fan of any research that seeks to "humanise" our pets by comparing them to children...

 

I must say that many species of animals have the capacity to seek attention - from their counterparts or humans - but it is still learned behaviour that elicits a response from the target. Example: we used to play a game of tag with our calves at work, and it wasn't long before they started playing tag with each other when there were no humans to play with... was rather fun to watch actually.

 

And goats... well... they have always been the class clowns of the farmyard... very attention-seeking animals... lol! We also raised our sheep with our goats, so they ended up much more goat-like in their behaviours, rather than developing more natural flocking behaviours and shunning humans.

 

T.

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Scientists have long been using 'anthropomorphise' IMHO to negate the fact that yes, animals do have feelings and yes, the more they live with humans the more they pick up behaviour-wise and methods of communication. 

 

Left to themselves, of course animals aren't exposed to the same input. So of course they are going to be less relatable to humans but it pisses me off no end that our experiences with any animal is belittled as just a pathological need to relate.    

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I am certainly not belittling any research into animal behaviour, and I firmly agree they DO have feelings. I'm just a bit leery of correlations with human behaviours and feelings, as the fanatics have a nasty habit of taking findings like that and twisting them for their own sick agendas.

 

I am priviledged to have regular contact with quite a few animal species (and every one is a distinct individual, may I add) - both domestic animals, and some that are much more exotic. I KNOW that each and every animal I work with is an individual, with his/her own little quirks, and we endeavour to cater to each as such. The bond that an animal in a captive or domestic setting forms with their carers is a precious one for both parties.

 

My work has just taken on 6 ex-circus lions. These magestic creatures have been forced to be removed from the only lives they knew, and from the people they loved the most. These 6 lions were not pets, they were family members to their human carers, and the bonds are strong. Now, due to animal rights activists having a say in how these large animals must be housed and cared for, the human interaction part of their existence will be restricted to having bars/mesh between them and their humans - where their whole lives prior were VERY hands on. How can this be "better" than the lives they had before? At least we had the ability to take on all 6, so they at least get to stay in their pride group - all other zoos were only willing to take one or some, and that would have been even more upsetting for all involved.

 

T.

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I am always being accused of anthropmorphising. Don't care! 

I don't think of them as human in any way, but they are 'beings'  and definitely share traits of beings.

 

And I like great sense of humor !

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I’ve always believed dogs have a sense of humour, and make believe.  They know that squeaky toy isn’t a real live animal, but they still love chucking it around, making it squeak and ripping its guts out. :laugh:  

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On 27/09/2021 at 3:17 PM, tdierikx said:

The problem I have with anthropomorphising is that the lunatic fringe tend to take things to the extreme and lobby loudly to end our close relationships with animals.

 

T.

 

 

Nothing will stop the lunatic fringe.   No matter what you say or do. 

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5 hours ago, Kirislin said:

I’ve always believed dogs have a sense of humour, and make believe.  They know that squeaky toy isn’t a real live animal, but they still love chucking it around, making it squeak and ripping its guts out. :laugh:  

 

My Lou had a good sense of humor, but didn't like games to be too real. I found a very realistic rubber squeaky cat toy in Vinnies I brought home for her and she was delighted until she grabbed it. Its squeak was weird and very cat like. She dropped it and refused to touch it again.

 

Not funny!  :laugh:

Edited by moosmum
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The various dogs I've owned...mostly Labs...have varied considerably in their senses of humour.   The first pup I kept, unfortunately named Jolly cause I  expected a fun type, was very serious.   Sprocket, my pound rescue, was a delightful clown.  

It sorta goes by breed, but it's very much an individual thing.

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We can be limited as humans in the way we relate so I dont think it is unnatural for us to look at it from a human point of view and draw the comparison.  Especially due to the deep connection we can have with our dogs. They are just the best :heart:

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maybe this is looking at dogs from a human point of view (though it seems true to me :laugh: )

 

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edited to try to make it larger, but I can't

Edited by Boronia
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On 27/09/2021 at 3:17 PM, tdierikx said:

The problem I have with anthropomorphising is that the lunatic fringe tend to take things to the extreme and lobby loudly to end our close relationships with animals.

 

T.

 

 

So why pander to them and tell others who anthropomorphise with an understanding of what they are doing but still know that an animal is animal?  AND, as @moosmumsays, they are beings with pretty well much the same feelings and needs as humans.  
 

The other day on FB someone called me a snowflake.  I responded along the lines that if caring for animals and caring about how they are treated makes me a snowflake, then I wear the name with pride.  Ditto Anthropomorphic.  

I’ve been called worse and it worries me  not a jot.  

 

 

 

Edited by Loving my Oldies
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