Article

Dog-laughter: Recorded playback reduces stress related behavior in shelter dogs

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Abstract

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 play- face 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). This study suggests that the dog-laugh vocalization diffuses stress related behavior and initiates pro-social behavior in shelter dogs, thus potentially reducing residency time.

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... warting 2007). Furthermore, rats self-stimulated the same areas of the brain (ventral tegmental area) where 50- khz trills can be electrically stimulated (Burgdorf et al. 2007). Taken together, these results provide strong evidence in support of the hypothesis that vocalizations in these two ranges signal positive and negative affect, respectively. Simonet (2005) suggested that dogs also produce laugh-like vocalizations that differ structurally from the regular panting sounds that are given when dogs are in locomotion. She found some evidence that playback of these laugh-like vocalizations to dogs in animal shelters reduced stress-related behaviors and induced play-soliciting behaviors such as t ...
... Simonet (2005) suggested that dogs also produce laugh-like vocalizations that differ structurally from the regular panting sounds that are given when dogs are in locomotion. She found some evidence that playback of these laugh-like vocalizations to dogs in animal shelters reduced stress-related behaviors and induced play-soliciting behaviors such as the play bow (Simonet 2005). In another study on dog vocalizations, Yin and McCowan (2004) found that barks that occurred in different contexts differed in acoustic parameters such as harmonic-tonoise ratio and frequency range. ...
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... Other primates and even non-primate mammals, such as dogs and rats, produce protolaughter during play (Bryant & Aktipis, 2014;Davila Ross et al., 2009;Panksepp, 2007;Simonet et al., 2005;Vettin & Todt, 2005). As a play signal, laughter conveys harmless intentions (much like smiles) and helps initiate and prolong play by signaling the nonseriousness of the play behaviors (Pellis & Pellis, 1996) and influencing the affective state of the recipient (Owren & Bachorowski, 2003). ...
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... Auditory stimuli often in the form of conspecific vocalisations have been used in environmental enrichment studies (Rukstalis and French 2005;Simonet et al. 2005;Kelling et al. 2012). However, if such calls are used frequently with no contingency to the behavioural response, then animals will learn to habituate to such calls, change its behaviour or even be stressed by the calls (Harris and Haskell 2013;Massen et al. 2014). ...
Chapter
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... Indeed, it was shown that pen size and space allowance may influence older dogs' movements, visibility in a pen, and consequent likelihood for adoption (Normando, Salvadoretti, Marinelli, Mongillo, & Bono, 2009). Recent studies have illustrated the possibility of enrichment for sheltered dogs by methods that resemble dogs' communicative patterns, that is, by adding visual, auditory, and olfactory signals in the environment (Graham, Wells, & Hepper, 2005a, 2005b Simonet, Versteeg, & Storie, 2005; Tod, Brander, & Waran, 2005; Wells, Graham, & Hepper, 2002 ), but none of these studies analyzed the social behavior between dogs in groups and compatibility of penmates in shelters. However, this can be important for dogs who may spend longer time in a shelter, sometimes several years. ...
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