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Pet Ways to Ease Stress
with Jessica Loftus, Ph.D. & Jack Murray

Laughter: A Dog’s Best Friend for Easing Stress

You humans need to lighten up. Sure, life poses many serious challenges, but you awfulize way too much. Find the humor in daily life. Take it from me, Ron Tickles, there is no better comedy than watching humans and their pets right at home. Besides being great fun, laughter ranks as one of the best remedies for easing stress.

Every day presents new occasions for giggles, snorts and snickers. You just have to look for them. Like many dogs, I live with a family – Mom, Dad, Junior, two cats and a hamster. Here are just a few examples of the comical things they do in their daily lives.

Dinner Time

It’s obligatory that Junior sneaks his serving of kale (or broccoli or green beans or spinach) under the dinner table for me to eat. I don’t mind; I eat just about anything. However, I chuckle when Dad also slips his serving of kale under the table — to avoid an argument with Mom. Even funnier is when Mom secretly scrapes the remaining kale on her plate into the garbage disposal before she retreats into the pantry for a bite of dark chocolate.


Every New Year’s rings in a new exercise machine. For the first three weeks of the year, Mom, Dad and Junior huff and puff on the latest version of their pet hamster’s wheel. Although it’s a hoot to watch the hamster exert so much effort to go nowhere, it’s even more amusing to watch the humans go nowhere even faster. Predictably, after a few months, the new exercise machine joins the retired treadmills, ellipticals and stationary bicycles lined up in the basement corner near the washer. At least those exercise machines make great clothes hangers.

Cat Race

Never willing to let sleeping cats lie, I tickle the younger male kitten on his tummy. This triggers a chain of reactions just like the old game of Mouse Trap™. First the kitten arches his back after awakening abruptly. Then he paws the older female cat who hisses in return. Soon they chase around the house in a fury. During their hot pursuit, they knock down the hamster cage, unlatching its door. Seeing his chance to get off that silly wheel, the hamster scurries out to roam the house. When Mom arrives home, she screams because she thinks the hamster is a mouse. Dad looks for a mouse trap until Junior notices the hamster cage door is ajar. Then the whole family chases through the house to capture the hamster, who wants nothing to do with that ridiculous hamster wheel. Not even a stand-up comedian could write better material.

How you View it

You can look at most life situations as the dog dish half empty or half amusing. Mental-health professionals love to complicate this basic fact with theories like CBT, DBT, and ACT, when all you need is a little FUN. Next time you feel stressed, depressed or crossed, try to glean some humor in the situation. If you find this difficult, watch a funny YouTube video. Then study the situation again. You may often find that the situation isn’t so bad, and you might even figure out a few solutions, which of course will help in easing stress.

Psychologist and “Cheerman of the Bored,” Steve Wilson, founded the World Laughter Tour, an organization devoted to promoting physical and mental health by living more positively. On its website you can search for local Certified Laughter Leaders who lead individual or group laughter sessions, a great complement to traditional psychotherapy. If you really want to humor others, you can seek training to become a Certified Laughter Leader yourself.

So here are my tips for easing stress.

  1. Lighten up. Find the humor in every day life.
  2. Unless you truly like it, ditch the kale, and opt for other nutritious foods like dark chocolate.
  3. Get off those silly hamster-wheel exercise machines and visit a dog park. Not only will you get great exercise, you will have great fun watching the dogs in those ridiculous collars that their owners make them wear.
  4. Most importantly, stir up a little trouble now and then.

Ruff . . . there scampers a real mouse. Time to rouse the cats.


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Laughter: A Dog’s Best Friend for Easing Stress

Jessica Loftus

Jessica Loftus has worked as a licensed clinical psychologist and national certified career counselor for more than 20 years. She currently offers counseling sessions via telehealth in Illinois. Her website,, outlines steps for making a career decision. details. See her retired blog, "Pet Ways to Ease Stress,"

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APA Reference
Loftus, J. (2018). Laughter: A Dog’s Best Friend for Easing Stress. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 1, 2020, from


Last updated: 9 Aug 2018
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