Derpy dogs have taken over the Internet. Derpy dogs make funny faces, their tongues hang out, they run into walls, trip over their own feet, and fall asleep in strange palces. But why do we love these dopey, uncoordinated, silly pups? The answer may be partly rooted in science.
According to Scientific American, we find humor in physical misfortunes like tripping or running into a wall because of the Play Frame. The “play frame,” puts a real-life event in a nonserious context and allows for an atypical psychological reaction. It’s also important that we see these derpy occurrences as holding a certain element of incongruency. We expect our dog to successfully navigate through the kitchen doorway, so when he runs smack into the wall, it’s incongruous with our everyday expectations, and we find it funny (as long as he’s not hurt).
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The article goes on to explain the concept further, with an explanation of the neurobiology behind derpy situations:
“In the early 1990s the discovery of mirror neurons led to a new way to understand the incongruity aspect of humor. When we fall down, we thrash about as we reach out to catch ourselves. Neurons in our brain control these movements. But when we observe another person stumbling, some of our own neurons fire as if we were the person doing the flailing—these mirror neurons are duplicating the patterns of activity in the falling person’s brain. My hypothesis regarding the relevance of this mechanism for humor behavior is that the observer’s brain is “tickled” by that neurological “ghost.” The observer experiences an unconscious stimulation from that ghost, reinforcing the incongruity perception.”
Not only do find derpy dogs funny, our brains mirror their actions, creating a type of sympathetic expreince in us that puts us in our dog’s shoes. We expreience his derp moment right along with him.
Our dogs are already a huge source of joy in or lives, but when we capture a derpy dog face on camera, that enjoyment gets ratcheted up a notch. When we watch our new puppy falls into his water dish, it’s the highlight of our day.
I think part of our love affair with derpy dogs is that we can all relate on some level. We’ve all tripped in front of someone we were trying to impress or tried to push a door clearly marked as “pull”. Derpiness is one of those universal experiences that bridges the gap between dogs and humans, reinforcing a bond that already enriches our lives.
Derpy dogs make us laugh. We don’t love them any less for their temporary stupidity, if anything, we love them more. Like a baby bird that’s so ugly it’s cute, the antics of derpy dogs are entertaining and endearing. We could all stand to embrace a little derpiness in our own lives. Learning to laugh at small mistakes and missteps leads to less stress. And who couldn’t use a little less stress? Humans make mistakes, dogs do derpy things. We’re all still wonderful and worthy of love despite our flaws.
What’s your favorite derpy dog story? Does your dog have a derpy habit? My King of Derp was my three-legger, Titus. He was the best dog-friend a kid could have but boy did he have derp issues. He sniffed a fish underwater, tried to play with skunks, fell asleep and rolled off the couch, and kept us in stiches everyday with his adorable derpiness.
We want to hear from you! Share your derpy dog stories in the comments.