Why Does My Dog Huff At Me?

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Author: Jacob Kay

As a dog owner, I am sure at some point you have wondered- Why does my dog huff at me? This is a common query amongst many dog owners in the UK. The reason behind this is simple, they see their dog huffing for no reason whatsoever and it seems strange to observe such behaviour out of nowhere.

The question is legit and this article will provide you with the answers. For the newbie dog owners, we will begin with understanding the term – dog huffing.

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Dog Huffing

Dog huffing is simply a forceful exhaling of air. Often, the huff is also referred to as puffing or chuffing. Sometimes, it’s just the air or a half-bark. In addition, huffing has slight variations as per the breeds. For instance, a bloodhound’s huff may sound a bit wet and sloppy, and in other dogs much shorter.

The sound of huffing is alarming and it almost seems like they are choking. This is the main reason why owners worry. However, when a dog huffs, there can be many reasons behind it. So, let’s see, whether you should worry bout this behaviour or not.

Why Does My Dog Huff At Me?

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When the dog is huffing at you, they are either trying to express certain emotions or simply experiencing some distress. Or perhaps trying to get your attention. There are many possible prospects linked with dog huffing. Let’s explore them.

  • Natural Spasm

Generally, dog huffing is a natural physical response because your furry friend has a spasm at the back of the throat. Also, when they are suffering from this spasm, their windpipe is slightly restricted.

So, the huffing is actually an attempt to clear out the blockage and allow airflow. But, the sound coming in such situations is scary and when dog owners see their dogs, it appears that they are struggling to breathe.

Thus, if they are having a natural spasm, you will see them stretching out the neck and legs. They will remain still and try to counter the issue by huffing. Usually, these huffing episodes end naturally but, if there is a genuine concern regarding breathing you should not take risks and visit the Vet.

  • Stress and Anxiety

When your furry friend feels stressed, nervous or anxious, the huffing behaviour is normal. You will see them exhaling the air at a rapid pace. This response is identical to us humans. Because we also blow out the air while under stress. A dog will show signs of stress and anxiety when feeling fear, disturbance (loud noises), or because of change in the environment.

Hence, it’s crucial you stay alert and observe your dog’s behaviour. You can calm your dog if they start getting anxious and if the situation gets worse, you can call your vet and get some tips on how to relax them.

  • Feeling threatened

Sometimes dogs feel threatened and they start huffing to indicate this feeling. You will see them continuously huff and puff because they see every individual approaching the house as a threat. Also, if they do not like something, for instance, bathing, it’s their way of telling you to not do so.

Hence, it’s not just a threat they feel any activity or situation which makes them uncomfortable will make them huff. Remember, your furry friend may start showing aggressive behaviour, so if things get out of control, seek a vet consultation.

  • Excitement and content

Contrary to their aggressive behaviour, dogs will huff when they get excited or feel content. To express this emotion of happiness and contentment, they still make different sounds. Yes, such sounds are confusing but, you will easily recognise their emotion because they make them while playing a game or doing other activities which they like.

  • Health issue

At times, you will see dogs huffing when they have a health issue. For instance, allergies or irritants can in the surrounding environment create health issues. The best example is insect inhaling – the dog huffs because they are trying to get rid of it by sneezing or coughing.

Further, if the situation is not getting normal your furry friend will need medical attention. A vet will have to figure out whether the huffing is because of inhaling an allergic substance, collapsing trachea, or any other respiratory infection.

  • Excessive exercise

When your dog has an extensive exercise or training session, it will start huffing. This is quite normal because they are trying to get their breath back. So, you can try lowering the time for their exercise to reduce their huffing.

  • Furious at you

As we know that separation anxiety can lead to huffing, the behaviour is often a reflection of their disappointment towards you. They are simply furious at you for not spending enough time with them, failing to provide them with the promised food treat or not playing with them. These instances will make them huff and whine.

So, to control their huffing, start by spending more time with them. If they approach you with the toys or ball, instead of refusing, play along. Give them the treat you may have promised and you will see they will not huff.

  • Eating fast

The dust particles or any other allergens are known to cause irritation in dogs’ throats. This makes them huff and puff. Likewise, when they are drinking water or eating their food too fast, they may inhale the food item and this can cause an obstruction in their windpipe. They will huff continuously to get rid of it.

Hence, if your furry friend is habitual of eating food fast, use a slow-feeding dog bowl. This will help reduce the pace and also potentially make them huff less.

Tricks For Stopping Dog Huffing

The huffing behaviour can get frustrating and it’s normal to think about how to stop them. Because not every time your dog is suffering from a medical issue and as it’s not dangerous to them you can handle the situation at home itself.

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  • The basic trick you can use is to cover their nostrils and have them take a deep breath. The irritation issue that was causing the huffing will pass through the airway after this activity. Further, you can also try rubbing their neck to remove any possible obstruction. This will also help in reducing inflammation.
  • You can cuddle your dog pat them and calm their behaviour. This trick can come in handy while they are in stress, having separation anxiety or just angry for some reason. In addition, you can also provide a gentle massage to relax their body and help them cope with huffing instincts.
  • If your dog is suffering from reverse sneezing because of any dust or allergens, you can try avoiding using any substance or keeping your dog away from such areas. In addition, if the weather conditions affect your dog causing allergies, try using a humidifier in the house.

If these tricks don’t work, you can hire a professional dog trainer. Because dogs will get aggressive when huffing and sometimes it can endanger the family members in the house, especially the kids. A trainer will ensure that your dog learns to obey certain commands while they huff.

Also, when your furry friend huffs at you for the first time, taking them to the Vet is not a bad idea. This helps in determining whether your dog is suffering any serious symptoms such as choking or coughing.


Why do dogs huff and growl?

Dogs show different emotions such as pleasure, excitement, joy and cooperation through their verbal activities. The most familiar sounds of pleasure are moans and sighs. Dogs use huffs and growls to express happiness. Low-pitched moans are very typical in puppies and are signs of joy.

What is reverse sneezing in dogs?

Reverse sneezing in dogs is a condition where instead of pushing the air out (a normal sneeze), dogs quickly pull the air into their nose. The dog will make a snorting sound and will inhale while sneezing. These reverse sneezing episodes last about a minute and there is no medical treatment necessary. However, if the time duration is more and symptoms don’t stop you need to address the situation.

What are the signs of respiratory distress in dogs?

Huffing is an indication your dog probably has some respiratory issues. You will see the following signs when they are suffering respiratory distress – panting, abnormal chest movement, blue gums or collapse.

Why is my dog huffing and shaking?

Your dog is probably having trouble getting enough air and that’s why you will see them huffing or shaking. They do this to take deep and rapid breaths to accumulate more air. However, at times it’s also an indication of potential heart disease, lung issues or asthma.

Why Does My Dog Huff At Me- Conclusive Remarks

When your dog is huffing at you, it’s normal for you to get an unsettling feeling, especially if you are encountering it for the first time. Normally, your furry friend won’t need any medical assistance. You can use some simple tricks to control their huffing behaviour.

However, at times, the huffing episode gets more frequent and last longer than usual. In such situations, it’s best you make a vet appointment to rule out any possible health issues or a pre-existing medical condition.

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Jacob Kay
Jacob Kay is a Veterinary Advisor and Editor at WWD. He’s also a dog lover and has two pet dogs of his own. He has extensive knowledge in the field of veterinary medicine and is always happy to share his insights with others.

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