2022 Undergraduate Research Showcase

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Shelly Volsche


Vocalizations in expressive, nonhuman animals can explain the evolution of human communication. A domain-specific play pant in dogs can signify a comparison to human laughter and can explain the development of interspecies empathy through social contagion. A prescreening survey captured demographic information about the guardian and the dog. Accepted pairs wore wireless microphones, transmitters, and a harness, while a camera captured video. Independent raters analyzed audio and video recordings across training, play and shared rest interactions via an ethogram and RavenLite. There is evidence that dogs produce a play pant. When interacting with their guardians, dogs produced more vocalizations during play than in training or shared rest. A one-way ANOVA resulted in significant differences regarding the presence of vocalizations during the three interactions (F2,39 = 5.897, p = 0.006). While a Tukey post hoc test revealed that fewer play pants were observed during training (0.875 ± 1.30 min, p = 0.018) and shared rest (0.875 ± 1.60 min, p = 0.013) as compared to play interactions (20.63 ± 29.14 min). By validating the canine play pant, our work is among the first to explore the evolution of laughter as a signal between species.



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