Online Dog Videos Not So Funny

What makes us laugh may be very distressing for a dog.


Some online videos involving dogs are so obviously and gratuitously cruel that a lawsuit has even been filed against one social media video giant by an animal protection organization. Among the most objectionable video posts: defenseless puppies being placed in the way of predators, including snakes and crocodiles, and then “rescued” in the nick of time. In one instance, a giant python wraps itself around a puppy’s neck. It’s all staged, of course, except for the dog’s terror. That’s real.

But so-called funny dog videos don’t have to be out-and-out horrific to constitute animal cruelty. In one, a person stands by a door several feet from a dog and holds up a sheet, periodically dropping it as a way of playing peek-a-boo. But then the person steps out of view through the doorway just before the sheet drops, and the dog comes running to look for his human companion, truly worried. In other videos, people bark at their dogs. Reactions include the dog licking the person’s face — not as a sign of affection but to appease them. In some of the “barking” videos, the dog looks threatened.

It’s important to view dog videos through a dog’s eyes. If a dog is not in on the joke, or if his eyes show fright or confusion, the animal not only fails to see the humor in the situation but may feel very uncomfortable, or frightened. More subtle signs of fear and confusion include lip licking, yawning, looking away, ears pinned back against the head, whale eye (showing more of the whites than usual), rapid blinking, and scratching himself out of nowhere.


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