why does my dog huff at me

If you just got a dog for the first time, you may be alarmed when it huffs at you. Like humans, dogs have different ways of expressing their feelings and emotions. And a dog’s huff might mean different things. So, why do dogs huff?

What’s a Huff? 

A huff simply means the forceful expulsion of air. Sometimes, your dog may accompany its huffing with a bit of bark or yelp. A huff also sounds like reverse sneezing and might be prolonged or short-lived.

Why Does My Dog Huff at Me?

There are plenty of reasons why your dog may huff at you. And, most likely, it’s completely harmless. But, if you’re worried, a trip to the vet may alleviate your worries.

1. Normal Spasm

Most of the time, your dog might huff to get rid of a little spasm restricting its airway. When its windpipe is blocked, your dog might make huffing sounds to allow unrestricted airflow. However, you’ll need to be concerned if the huffing worsens or your dog cannot breathe.

2. Signs of Stress and Anxiety

When stressed, it’s normal to let out a very long breath. The same thing goes for your furry friend. Taking in lots of air and exhaling all at once is one way dogs relieve stress. So, when your dog is anxious or stressed out, he might exhale air in a rush.

To resolve this, you can take time to observe your dog and learn why it’s stressed. You can also talk to the vet to figure out possible reasons for the stress.

3. Feelings of Aggression or Threat

Huffing is one of the ways your dog lets you know it feels threatened. Your dog will huff and puff after anyone or anything they see as a threat entering your house. It might also huff when it’s annoyed.



4. A Sign of Joy or Contentment 

Feelings of extreme joy can also cause your dog to huff. Playing games like catch with your dog can make it huff. Jumping around for joy and hovering over you can cause your dog to run out of breath. Huffing for reasons like this is usually harmless, so you don’t need to worry.

Your dog can also run out of breath while playing with other pups or when it’s time for its favorite activity. In this case, excitement is the primary cause of huffing.

5. Disappointment 

Dogs don’t like it when you fail to fulfill your promise or are absent for too long. So, it may let out a huff to let you know it’s displeased.

6. Anticipation 

Promising your dog treats and gifts can cause it to huff or puff. When you reach for its food, a huff can easily replace barking and running around as a sign of anticipation.

7. Presence of Allergens or Irritants in the Throat

Sneezing or coughing may not always help your dog clear its throat. When your dog has to clear its throat too many times, it might start huffing. This will happen if the irritant is too far down the throat and past the nasal canals.

The cause of the huffing sound could be something as complicated as an allergic reaction or something as simple as your dog swallowing an insect. Its throat may feel constrained, and it might find it hard to breathe. Also, if your dog wears a tight collar or a leash, it could cause huffing.

8. Eating or Drinking Too Fast

Just like pollen or insects, scarfing down food can also irritate your pup’s throat. If your dog’s prone to inhaling its dinner, the huffing may be related.

9. Getting Too Much Exercise and Running Out of Breath 

Like humans, dogs get exhausted after strenuous activities or exercises. When your dog runs out of breath, it might make huffing sounds to catch its breath again. 

How To Stop Your Dog From Huffing

You might feel frustrated if you can’t tell whether your dog is reverse sneezing or coughing when it huffs. However, huffing doesn’t always mean your dog needs medical attention. As long as it doesn’t happen too often, it’s probably not harmful to your dog.

Some of the things you can do to help your dog include: 

1. A Visit to the Vet

Taking your dog to the vet the first time you notice your dog huffing a lot is a good idea. It’ll help to rule out the possibility of something more serious, such as choking or coughing.

The vet will request x-rays of your dog’s chest and may prescribe a rhinoscopy too. Rhinoscopy is a procedure in which a camera is placed into the nose and throat to check for problems.

2. Home Remedies 

If your dog experiences slight huffing, you can cover its nostrils and have it take in large gulps of air. The irritation that triggered the incident will exit its airways due to this action. You can also try rubbing your dog’s neck to remove any obstructions or relieve any inflammation that may be present.

Cuddling, patting, and playing light music can help calm your dog. This is an excellent solution if your dog huffs because it’s stressed, anxious, or angry. Giving your dog a massage can be helpful too.

3. Get Rid of Irritants and Allergens

Your dog can experience reverse sneezing due to airborne allergens such as perfume, dust particles, or cleaning sprays. In this case, the most effective action would be to keep these substances away.

Also, if the weather aggravates your dog’s allergies, you might try placing a humidifier or warmer in the room they prefer to hang out.

4. Seek Professional Training for Your Dog

Over-aggressive dogs tend to become dangerous, especially when kids are around the house. So, if your dog huffs because it’s always aggressive, you can enroll it in dog training sessions to help improve its behavior.

Get Support With Training Your Dog

Seeing your dog huff for the first time might be a startling experience. However, there is usually no cause for alarm.  Still, it’s best to make an appointment with your vet to ensure your dog doesn’t have any underlying health problems.

At Sierra Delta, we support Veterans by giving them access to professional training for their Life Buddy or Service dog. As a Veteran, you’ll also have access to the Life Buddy app to help you train your dog and keep track of its health.

Join our community today for access to the Life Buddy app!

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