Why Dogs Sneeze When You Play With Them

Like people, dogs sneeze for a variety of causes. There are several degrees of sneeze severity.


Dogs typically sneeze because they inhaled something irritating that became lodged in their nostril. Dogs sneeze after putting their snouts into the grass or digging in the dirt for this reason.

Sometimes they’ll smell something unpleasant that causes them sneeze, like perfume, cleaning supplies, or dust.


Sneezes are a means of communication for dogs with both people and other animals. Similar to how a dog communicates through body language or facial expressions, sneezes are simply one way of doing so.

In fact, a 2017 study indicated that sneezes were a form of negotiation used by wild African canines to influence group decision-making.

Sneezing is another way that dogs communicate that they need to settle down, take a break, or that they are okay with what is going on.


When playing with humans or other dogs, a lot of dogs enjoy sneezing. This “play sneezing” is common and used by dogs to express their excitement and enjoyment. Dogs will also sneeze during play to demonstrate that their actions are purely playful.

Dogs also have a tendency to pucker their lips when playing a game. Their body might sneeze as a result of the lip curl that results in a wrinkled nose. Playful sneezes typically consist of a quick snort that originates from the nose rather than the lungs.


It’s possible that your dog is pretending to sneeze when they sneeze around mealtimes or during routine walks.

Dogs who pretend sneeze frequently look at you while doing so to catch your attention. To make sure you pay attention, they might even approach you and sneeze on or next to you.

Health Problems

Since the body is doing its necessary functions, sneezing is really beneficial. It might also be a sign of a minor illness like a cold.

But occasionally, it might be a sign of more serious issues with the teeth or the nasal passages. A piece of grass or a malignant tumor could be the cause of a nasal blockage.


Due to the shape of their muzzle and throat, brachycephalic breeds have more trouble breathing. Pugs, Pekingese, Bulldogs, and Boston Terriers are among the breeds whose compressed nasal passages increase their propensity to sneeze.

Excellent Sense of Smell

Dogs are very perceptive to their surroundings. They may use their keen sense of smell to hunt for prey, locate hidden treats, and detect unfamiliar dogs entering their area.

Reverse Sneezes

Reactions to inflammation, irritants, or excitement can cause reverse sneezes, which are abrupt and repeated inhalations via the nose. Terriers and other toy breeds frequently sneeze backwards.

What does a dog sneezing while being pet mean?

These are actually just amusing sneezes, and they are not a cause for alarm. You might have also noticed that when you pet your dog, they groan or make other noises. Another indication that they are having fun is this. Basically, it’s entirely natural for your dog to sneeze a few times when being pet.

When my dog sneezes at me, what does that mean?

Have you ever noticed your dog sneezing at you while waggling his tail and sort of bending down on his front legs? He’s attempting to communicate to you his desire to play. Dogs commonly sneeze in this manner to get your attention and communicate their needs.

These sneezes are actually phony. It’s merely a means for them to draw attention to themselves. There’s no way you can ignore them since if you pay attention, you’ll frequently see them getting closer as they sneeze at you.

Do canines actually sneeze when they play fight?

In order to let other dogs know that they are having fun, dogs sneeze when playing. Dogs sneeze to show that their boisterous play, which is intermingled with growls and barks, is not violent.

Perhaps you’ve also noticed this. The more you play with your dog or the more vigorously your dog wrestles with other dogs, the more likely it is that your dog may sneeze in the middle of their GRRRRs and RUFFs. Therefore, why do dogs sneeze while playing?

Katherine Smith, a canine behaviorist and trainer, claims that a dog’s sneeze lets the other dog know that a boisterous dance or fight play session is only for fun. When your dog “is really liking what you’re doing,” it will sneeze.

Therefore, our dogs have developed a strange new method of saying, “Maybe it LOOKS like we’re fighting, but it’s all right, we’re friends!”

Your love for your dog may be motivated by a variety of factors, including their adorable looks, soft fur, and unwavering loyalty. Personally, I enjoy dogs the greatest when they are boisterous. I’ll genuinely roll about on the ground with any dog (ask my coworkers.) If there’s a nice game of tug of war to be had, I’ll grab any drooly old raggedy toy and clutch onto it for dear life. The more aggressive and boisterous the dog, the more I adore them. Why then do dogs sneeze while they play? Just having fun, that’s all!

Canines feign sneezing?

Everybody is familiar with the appearance and sound of a sneeze, that abrupt, violent exhalation of air via the nose. A real sneeze brought on by an allergy, cold, or irritation resembles a phony one in appearance. A true sneeze, however, can also come with additional symptoms like runny or stuffy nose, itchy skin, or swollen eyes. A fake sneeze is thus likely to occur alone, without what may be seen as other symptoms, which is the first difference.

Second, a dog that makes a fake sneeze has probably picked it up because it attracts attention. As a result, when a room is left unattended or when you’re not home, they are less likely to sneeze. When you’re in a different area of the house, keep an eye out for the dog’s behavior. If they calm down and cease sneezing, they might be skilled impersonators.

A dog that fakes sneezing to attract attention is also more likely to observe you while you sneeze, ready to soak up the attention they will receive for doing so. Some dogs even sag over, approach their owner very closely, and sneeze as though to make the most impression possible.

How closely linked a dog is to its owner will partially determine whether the dog pretends to sneeze. A dog who is distant and prefers the company of other hounds to humans is less likely to pretend to sneeze than a dog that is closely linked and enjoys its owner’s company.

How come dogs sigh so much?

Through their vocalizations, dogs can express their delight, enthusiasm, excitement, and affinity. Dogs also utilize whines and growls to express contentment, however moans and sighs are the most typical sounds of joy.

Puppies frequently make low-pitched murmurs, which indicate satisfaction. When puppies are in close proximity to their mother, their littermates, or their humans, they will scream. The sigh, which is typically followed by the dog lying down with its head on its forepaws, is another expression of contentment. The sigh conveys pleasure when it is coupled with half-closed eyes; disappointment when it is coupled with completely open eyes: “You’re not going to play with me, I suppose.

Whines are regarded as indicators of grief, yet they can also convey joy and delight. The distinction is that although a whine used to express enthusiasm either decreases in pitch near the end of the sound or does not vary in pitch, a whine intended to express distress rises in pitch toward the conclusion of the sound.

Similar to growls, there are growls that are used to express play rather than warnings or threats. These growls are loud, mid-pitched, and lack the low rumbling characteristic of warning growls as well as any teeth cues.

Dogs are considerably better at distinguishing between playful growls and frightening growls than people are. Dogs avoided the bone in the presence of warning growls but seized it in the presence of play-growls when researchers played several recorded growls over a speaker in front of a desired bone.

The howl is the classic form of affiliation communication. Dogs who howl appear to mimic wolves in their behavior. A dog communicating by itself howling is “I require my pack. Such howls are frequently contagious.

Dogs make sounds both consciously and unconsciously, and each sound has a distinct meaning. Dogs are trying their best to communicate with us even if we are unable to understand the vast diversity of noises they make.

Dog Park Etiquette

If you own a dog and live in the city or the suburbs, you probably know about the nearby dog park. It’s a haven for dogs. Before you take your dog to the dog park, there are a few things you should think about, according to the “Dog Park Etiquette” E-book.

What draws dogs to you?

For dogs, licking comes naturally and instinctively. It serves as a means of self-expression, bonding, and grooming for them. Your dog may lick you to express their affection for you, to attract your attention, to help them relax when they’re upset, to demonstrate empathy, or simply because they like the way you taste! It’s possible that excessive licking is an indication of anxiety, discomfort, or pain in your dog. Always get guidance from a veterinarian or behaviorist if you are worried about your dog.

Why does a dog scent a woman’s intimate area?

Key learnings Due to the sweat glands, also known as apocrine glands, that are present there, dogs like to sniff people’s crotches. A dog can learn details about a person’s age, sex, mood, and likelihood of mating by sniffing these glands.

Do canines smile?

The majority of specialists concur that when people smile, dogs do too. When dogs are having fun, relaxing, happy, or greeting a familiar face, they appear to smile more.

Dogs don’t laugh at jokes, but they might do so when they see you. Typically, a dog’s smile is referred to as a subservient grin. The canine’s teeth are visible, and its stance is relaxed. It’s crucial to remember that, contrary to popular belief, showing teeth is not usually an aggressive sign.

The majority of animal behaviorists consider a dog’s smile to be an adaptive facial expression and behavior with several purposes and advantages. Dogs appear to use smiling as a social tactic and an emotional expression. When we react, laugh, give food, pet, or clap, humans reward smiling. Dogs soon pick up that smiling will result in a good response, so they will keep grinning to get more of the same.

During play, may dogs get hurt?

As responsible pet owners, we want to offer our dogs the best possible lives, and play is a HUGE part of that for the majority of dogs.

The sun is shining, winter is coming to an end, and the park seems more appealing than ever. And for weeks, probably months, your dog has been longingly gazing out the window and softly pawing at the door while giving you the guilt eyes. But wait before you bolt out the door! Dog play accidents can happen at any time of the year, but the beginning of spring is particularly prone to mishaps.

Dog play injuries are more frequent than most people realize, and they can range in severity from very minor—like a little paw cut that heals in a few days—to very serious—like torn ligaments and hip injuries that may require surgery and leave a person permanently disabled. The typical expense for injuries necessitating a visit to the veterinarian will be in the several hundred dollar range. Ouch! That results in two injuries—one to the dog and one to your pocket.

Dog injuries during play are caused by a variety of circumstances. Among them are

  • Canine awareness
  • Conditioning
  • Coordination
  • health, breed, age, and predispositions of your dog
  • The climate
  • the setting where they play
  • Owner awareness and knowledge

The key is simply recognizing who is susceptible to them, what injuries can occur, and how. Injuries that occur when playing with your pup are actually fairly avoidable. As a result, you are aware of what to watch for and monitor.

Who is most prone?

We are not proposing you cover your dog under a blanket and never let him or her outside, even though all dogs are likely to suffer at least a few minor injuries while playing throughout their lifetimes. A healthy dog will recover rapidly from minor wounds, as opposed to others who may take longer and are more vulnerable to harm. Dogs who fit into these categories should receive extra care and consideration. These consist of:

  • puppies with developing bones and joints (under 12 months of age)
  • a senior dog with fragile bones and joints (usually over several years of age)
  • Canines at risk for hip dysplasia (genetic predisposition)
  • Dogs most vulnerable, but not only:
  • majority of super big breeds (Great Danes, Newfoundlands)
  • Shepherds of Germany
  • Golden and Labrador Retrievers
  • Pugs
  • (French/English) Bulldogs
  • dogs that are obese

The Play Environment: The most common cause of injury

However, the areas where dogs play are by far the most important element contributing to dog injuries. Some play mishaps can be attributed to operator error, predisposition, or just plain poor luck. Although we recognize that many people cannot avoid these areas entirely, it is best to limit your exposure to them. When you do play in these environments with your dog, pay extra close attention to him and don’t overdo it.

  • Extremely cold and hot surfaces include ice, snow, and heated pavement
  • Sharp edges and trash
  • Unpredictable terrain that is uneven
  • Wire fencing and tree/shrub branches are the main offenders when it comes to sharp protruding things.
  • limited visibility terrain: Heavy, dense vegetation or snow. These conceal any potential sharp edges, sudden holes, and trash.
  • Deepwater

What play injuries are most common?

Large sticks used as fetch toys are a major offender in cases of cuts and scratches to the nose, mouth, and eyes, but tree and shrub branches are by far the most frequent culprits. Dogs frequently collide with small, sharp branches when frantically chasing a ball. Even a minor scratch to the eye can be uncomfortable, and serious punctures can render a dog blind in one eye. The eyes are a particularly vulnerable body region.

  • Dogs playing in the snow always use their noses to forage, which puts them at risk for nose frostbite. Here, snow accumulates, making it challenging for them to remove extra ice buildup with their paws.

Leg, Paw, and Nail Injuries; Limbs:

  • Sprained and strained muscles
  • fractured and dislocated bones
  • Ligament injuries, especially to the crucial ligament
  • worn-out or damaged paw pads
  • fractured or split nails
  • Paw burn on a heated surface

Hip injuries are most commonly caused by excessive exercise, especially in young puppies, and acrobatic jumping.

Neck Sudden jerking/Strangulation: Many owners may use a leash or rope to restrict their dogs, even in open locations, due to their curious nature and propensity to go exploring. When planning any kind of activity, this is NEVER a good idea.

Dogs are quite adept at controlling their body temperature, but they struggle to recognize when they are dehydrated and their temperature is too high, which can lead to heat stroke. Owners are responsible for being aware of this and alert to excessive breathing during hot weather.

Solutions: Dog Safety Basics

Knowing how frequently injuries occur during play, which dogs are more affected, as well as the locations, weather, and other factors that might be harmful, will significantly reduce the number of play events. However, there are a few tips, methods, and products that can assist even more.

Warming up and cooling down: This is a habit that all dog owners should engage in. It will significantly lower the risk of muscle, joint, and bone injuries, particularly in younger and older dogs.

Overtraining; Recognizing when enough is enough: Even though exercise is essential for your dog’s health, there can be too much of a good thing, especially for young dogs. What level of activity is therefore ideal? A decent general guideline is to exercise your dog for 5 minutes each day, up to twice per day, for each month of its age.

Boots, waxes, and paw protection Booties are the best tool for preventing foot injuries, despite being difficult to put on and occasionally stay on. Particularly for extremely rough or uneven terrain, such as hiking routes, especially for extremely hot or cold surfaces. Additionally effective at assisting with and treating overused paw pads are waxes.

Appropriate toys: Only use common pet-safe toys

  • Instead of a ball, use a frisbee because it doesn’t bounce, tends to travel a shorter distance, and even if it doesn’t always fly straight (for some, like me), it tends to stay more on the path and away from danger areas. A dog-specific frisbee should be used since regular toy store frisbees, which can shatter into sharp shards, are not pet-safe.
  • Use caution when using stray sticks and garbage that is lying around.

Always wear a life jacket: Dogs lack the self-control to stop when they are too fatigued to continue swimming, even in shallow waters.

Never play vigorous games while a dog is restrained: I know we’ve said this before, but we felt it was important to reiterate because play incidents involving restrained dogs nearly always result in catastrophic injuries. If you absolutely have to bind your dog, only use a rear clip harness point, and keep the activity level as low as possible.

Although competing athletes’ dogs go through rigorous routine fitness, most dog owners are unaware of this. But by gradually introducing your dog to any sport, you are essentially conditioning your dog for the activity. As an illustration, frisbee throwing would finally begin with short throws of just a few feet and progressively advance to long launches and high-flying acrobatic catches over the course of several weeks or even months.

Final thoughts

Now that you are aware of the typical reasons for injuries, all you need to do is watch out for your dog and avoid the urge to allow him to play in places or with toys that could be harmful to his health. It is advised to have routine exams with your veterinarian, and it can be beneficial to talk to them about any regular strenuous play you engage in. If your dog ever displays any signs of injury while playing, even a slight limp or unusual behavior like excessively scratching their face, stop right away. If the problem does not go away in 10 to 15 minutes, a trip to the vet may be required.

Regarding the Author: Simon has been working with dogs and other animals for more than 15 years and is passionate about everything four-legged. He is merely one of the authors of the helpful website dogviously, which offers dog owners all types of guidance.