Does your pooch go ballistic…
And turn into a barking machine every time you let out an “Ahh-choo”?
Hmm. What could they be telling you?
Is it a “Gesundheit,” “bless you,” or a firm “shut up!” in doggy language?
Read on to discover:
- What makes your dog react violently at your sneeze.
- When you should be concerned about this behavior.
- 5 useful tips on how to help them calm down and relax.
- And many more…
Table of contents
- Why does my dog bark when I sneeze?
- 9 reasons why your dog barks when you sneeze
- 5 tips on what to do if your dog barks when you sneeze
Why does my dog bark when I sneeze?
Your dog barks when you sneeze because they think it’s a cry for help, got surprised by the loud sudden noise, had a bad experience, or didn’t like the explosive force of air and droplets of water coming out of you. They could also do it due to their noise sensitivity, over comforting, and pain.
9 reasons why your dog barks when you sneeze
#1: They think you’re in danger
– OMG! Are you alright, hooman? Should I call 911??”
Do you sneeze, and then after a few seconds, your pooch comes rushing over, barking with a worried look on their face?
If so, your dog might think it’s a cry of pain.
You might tend to produce a ‘squeaky’ sound when you do it. And it’s somehow similar to when humans scream for help or dogs yelp in discomfort.
Because they’re concerned and just checking if you’re okay.
Fun fact: Experts debunked the myth that when you sneeze, your heart stops for a second. So don’t fret; your dog isn’t worried because of that.
#2: ‘Surprise factor’
“Woah, hooman. What was that???
You scared me!”
Does your sneeze send your pooch flying across the room?
Oops! You might have startled them so much.
So they would run up to you and bark angrily because you just disturbed their sleep. They might have been dreaming about chasing a squirrel and you ruined it.
Although no one can’t blame you for that. Because most times it would just come all of a sudden. Even humans get surprised by it too!
Sometimes you can feel it coming and control it, but there are times when it just happens.
My Fido doesn’t flinch when other people sneeze. But when I do it, they get so startled.
Why is that?
Some dogs can tolerate sudden noise if it’s from people or things they don’t trust. They’ll be on ‘alert mode’ every time. So they’re likely expecting anything to happen.
But when they’re with you, they might relax and put their guard down.
It’s because they feel safe and comfortable around you. So when you sneeze out of nowhere, they’ll be frightened for sure.
#3: It’s really loud…for them
– Ouch! Could you be anymore louder, human?!”
Please don’t be offended, but are you a loud sneezer?
Some people are capable of letting out a violent ear-shattering one which could make a person jump.
So what more to a dog who has a heightened sense of hearing?
It could be way louder for them, even if it’s an average one. Scientists say that a normal human sneeze can be as loud as 90 dB. Which they compared to the sound a lawnmower makes.
So it could be like someone blasted super loud music in their ears for a brief moment. So they’ll surely freak out.
Fun fact: Ever wonder why some people always let out a ‘roaring’ sneeze? It depends on a person’s lung capacity. The longer you hold it in, the more air you store, the louder it gets.
#4: Unexpected force of air
Did you just blow your nose in front of me?”
Do you accidentally sneeze close to your pooch?
Oh, that’s why they bark and snap at you right after.
You just forced out an explosive air from your nose and mouth. And dogs might hate it A LOT.
That’s because it happens out of the blue and they don’t have a clue why you did it. They might not also like it as it’s too close for their comfort.
Fun fact: Research shows that a normal human sneeze has a pressure of 7000Pa. It’s a lot higher than when we exhale – which is only 200Pa.
#5: Droplets of…bacteria
Sneezing is our body’s way of clearing our nose.
It happens when our system detects pollen, dirt, or dust in the nostrils that may harm us.
But little did we know that one sneeze could blast off 100,000 infectious germs into the air according to a study.
So even if your dog couldn’t see it, it might still smell and feel unpleasant.
Not to mention the sudden drizzle of water coming out of you. Your dog might have a sudden shower so they bark at you saying it’s gross.
#6: Bad memories
It could also be that your pooch is super scared of it.
But are they fearful of everything? Or only the sound of sneezing triggers their anxiety?
If it’s the latter, they might have had a traumatic experience with it. Or it reminds them of a horrifying sound they heard in their early life.
This is possible if they’re a rescue as you never know how they spent their first years.
There might be some people who teased them with it. And dogs can be more anxious about it if they’re exposed repeatedly – especially if it’s always loud.
#7: ‘Over comforting’
Sometimes, dogs will act up in a certain way. It’s because they know they’ll get something out of it.
So it could be that your pooch is encouraged to bark when you sneeze.
You might have comforted them every time they do it. So from then on, they learned that they can get extra affection from you.
#8: Noise aversion
It’s the fear of unexpected loud noises.
So they’ll bark whenever they hear fireworks, gunshots, or anything similar. As they can’t really predict when it’s going to happen.
And it’s somehow similar to human sneezes because it could occur at random times.
Does your pooch bounce up and take off every time they hear it?
As much as you’re surprised about it, it could be even more terrifying for a naturally fearful dog. So they’ll likely leave the room or hide somewhere else.
Psychology Today lists some causes of it:
- Trauma with such noises.
- Learned behavior from other canines.
- Reinforced with too much attention and petting.
So if your Fido is already an anxious one, there are high chances that they’ll get this. And some might even have separation anxiety.
Dogs who have this will also freak out at cars passing by, sounds of a microwave when it’s done, and a doorbell.
And other than barking and hiding, they will also show signs like:
- Running away.
How common is it in dogs?
A recent study reveals that 32% of canines with anxiety have noise sensitivity.
They’re extremely scared of at least one type of noise.
It’s mostly observed in Wheaten Terriers, Lagotto Romagnolos, and mixed breeds. While Shetland Sheepdogs and Spanish Water Dogs are likely to be fearful.
They also found out that female dogs are more prone to this than males. And those who are neutered are more likely to be scared than intact ones.
#9: They’re in pain
Did your pooch become sensitive to noises all of a sudden?
Oh, no. It could be that they’re in great pain. So they bark to express they’re in distress.
It could be joint pains or ear infection. And being startled by a loud noise tense up the body so they will yelp and cry for help.
Researchers also say that they might have associated those sounds with pain. So every time they hear it, it reminds them of the sensation.
5 tips on what to do if your dog barks when you sneeze
#1: Help them defeat their fear
Do you miss letting out a good, refreshing sneeze?
You might have been suppressing your sneezing up to now to not scare your pooch.
Oh, no. That could be dangerous!
Although it’s very rare, experts say that it might injure your eardrums or the blood vessels in your eyes if you aren’t lucky.
So you may need to refrain from that. And make your Rover overcome their fear instead for your safety.
How? Just follow these easy steps:
- Search for sneezing sounds like this one below. Or you can ‘fake sneeze’ and record it instead.
- Play it to them in a low volume. Keep it far enough from your dog so they won’t get startled.
- Then while it’s playing, give them tasty treats.
- If they’re calm and quiet, raise the sound a bit.
- Then move it around the area until it gets closer to where you are.
- If they started to bark or look nervous, put it in the previous volume.
As you go on, you can make it louder and even associate it with their feeding time. So it’ll be a positive experience for them.
This might take a few days or weeks depending on your dog. So it could take a lot of time and patience. But your efforts would surely pay off as long as it’s consistent.
Note: If your Rover isn’t food-motivated, you can give them toys or do it before you go for a walk.
#2: Divert their attention
When you sneeze, your dog’s focus is all on you. And they’ll bark to show their rage.
So what if you try to redirect that energy to something else?
You can introduce a game to them after you sneeze – or play a recording of it.
Say “It’s alright. Relax,” then grab their fave toy and throw it.
Your pooch will excitedly find it and release their fury in that. And it would help them calm down. Thus, will avoid barking.
#3: Avoid comforting them
If they have noise phobia, you may avoid petting them when they’re scared. Or refrain from showing too many emotions.
Yes, I know. It’s hard to not hug them and tell them everything’s going to be alright.
But those might only boost their nervousness. As they can’t process things when they’re so stressed out.
Also, by comforting them, your dog will think that you’re liking the behavior. Which will then motivate them to do it again.
So you can just allow them to settle down on their own – like a strong grown up child. And the next tip could help with this.
#4: Ask for an expert’s help
“Happy dog, happy life.”
Well, no one’s going to contradict that.
So if your pooch’s phobia is already affecting their standard of living, you may need to go to your local vet at once.
Also, they could be in pain instead due to arthritis or ear infection.
So doing this will let you know the medications and proper care they need. As not only their health, but also their level of comfort should be one of the priorities.
#5: Give them a ‘safe place’
So if your dog is highly fearful of loud noises, you may provide a ‘safe place’ instead of comforting them.
That spot will be their escape room whenever they feel anxious.
Giving them a crate covered with a blanket could be a perfect way to do it. Or your bedroom could also be their safe den.
Once they seem nervous, guide them into it. Then leave them alone so they’ll have some space. And let them stay there for as long as they like.
Note: Never force them to come out. So wait until they’re ready and relaxed.