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Why does my dog run to me when I cough or sneeze?

Why does my dog run to me when I cough or sneeze?

Sneezing and coughing are sometimes an unfortunate fact of life. You may be resigned to coping with the sniffles and the occasional cough, but your dog may not take it in stride. Why does it run to you when you sneeze or cough? Are they worried about you, or simply trying to figure out where the sound came from? 

Why does my dog run to me when I cough or sneeze?

Does your dog run to you every time you sneeze? Do they seem agitated or upset when you cough? It may seem like a strange behavior, but your pooch actually has some pretty good reasons for running to you at these times. 


Think about what happens when you sneeze. You make a very strange face, which looks uncomfortable or displeased. Then you make a loud noise. It’s no surprise your dog may be confused, and wonder what is going on. 

When you cough, your face can turn red. Your eyes may water with a particularly rough coughing fit, which can make it seem like you are crying. It’s clearly very uncomfortable and stressful for your body. In fact, many people do their best to avoid coughing, because it’s quite unpleasant. When your dog observes this, it can easily confuse them. 

Dogs ae Keen Observers

Dogs watch people very closely, especially their owners. They depend on you for their survival, but the reasons for their observation likely go deeper than that. Your dog cares for you. They want to know that you are ok, but they are also interested in your mood and what you are doing. 

Dogs are known to imitate their owners. In fact, they are the only animal known to do this across species. This means they imitate other dogs, but also their owners. They will not pick up any human behavior they see, only the ones that seem useful to them. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, dogs are quite adept at it. 

Imitation requires close observation. Your dog can’t imitate you if it doesn’t know what you are doing in the first place. The two actions go hand in hand. This is one of the many ways we know dogs are keen observers. 

Another example involves the owner’s actions with other people. Dogs will like strangers who are nice to their owner. They dislike strangers who are not nice to their owner. Even if the stranger has a treat, the dog will not interact with them if they have been rude to their beloved master. They are very aware of what is going on, and use this information to decide how they feel about strangers. 

Their powerful observation skills serve them well. However, it can also make them susceptible to a range of reactions when you cough or sneeze. To understand why, you need to see things from your dog’s point of view. 


Concern is one of the most common reasons a dog will run to you when you cough or sneeze. Your dog doesn’t understand what caused you to make so much noise. They simply know that it’s coming from you. 

Your pooch may think that you are injured or even crying. If you think about it, sneezing, coughing, and crying are all fairly similar noises. So, they run to you to make sure that you are ok, because they love you. 

Thinks You Want to Play

Just like humans, dogs sneeze. In addition to sneezing to remove things from their nose, they use sneezing as a way of communicating. Have you ever watched two dogs play, and noticed that one or both of them began to sneeze? Perhaps you’ve even seen your dog sneeze before a play session, or simply because they are excited. 

Sneezing is a dog’s way of saying, “hey, let’s play”. It can also be used to say, “I’m only playing”. Dogs can be rough during play, and it can be misinterpreted as aggression.

It’s a common occurrence with human children. Two children begin playing or wrestling. One gets a bit too rough, and the other gets angry. Before you know it, they are fighting. However, if the person who was too rough says, “Hey, I was only playing. I’ll ease up”. The situation deescalates before it turns into a fight. 

When dogs are playing, dogs use a sneeze in the same manner. It’s their way of indicating that they are only playing, and mean no harm. 


Hearing you sneeze or cough may simply be stressful for your canine companion. They may be startled, confused, or worried about you. When they are stressed, they will naturally come to you for comfort. 

Why does my dog jump on me when I cough?

If your dog jumps on you when you cough, you’ll naturally wonder why. In addition to the reasons mentioned above, there are a few possible reasons for your dog jumping on you when you cough. 


It’s possible that your pooch jumps on you when you cough because they are curious. They will want to know what was going on, and why you made such a strange sound.

To better investigate, they will get as close as possible to the source of the sound, which happens to be your mouth. If they also sniff you when they jump up, this is likely the reason why. They are using their vision, smell, and hearing to try to decode your noise. 

Startled by the Noise

Some dogs are sensitive to loud noises, and some are more easily startled than others. If your dog is typically high strung or anxious, is likely the reason they jump on you when you cough. The noise startled them, and they are seeking comfort from you. 

Why does my dog come to me when I cry?

Do dogs feel empathy? Are they trying to comfort you when are crying? Or are they simply reacting, without truly understanding your feelings? 

Emotional Contagion 

Researchers used to believe that dogs reacted to their owners due to emotional contagion. This occurs when one being “catches” the emotions of another, without actually understanding the emotion. 

The best example of this is a nursery. When one baby begins to cry, others will start to cry as well. It’s as if they’ve caught the emotion that caused the first baby to cry. They don’t understand what the baby is feeling, but they still display the same emotion. 

Do Dogs Really Understand What We are Feeling? 

Yes, your dog does know what you are feeling. Many owners feel their dog has a sixth sense that allows them to read their emotions. Your dog will notice when you are crying, and it’s common for them to display signs of sadness when you are upset. 

However, your dog’s ability to perceive how you feel goes beyond that. They know when you are happy, sad, and even angry. They do this by observation and their keen senses. 

Dogs observe your body language and voice. They also use their noses to sniff out how you are feeling. As emotions shift, your hormone levels, heart rate, breathing, and sweat also change. Your dog can pick up on these subtle changes and use them to understand your emotions. 


Most researchers today believe that dogs have empathy for their owners. They will go to great lengths to comfort their owner when their owner is upset. Studies have shown that dogs will even break down barriers or open doors to get to distressed owners. This suggests that dogs not only know when you are sad, they want to comfort you. 


When your pooch comes to you when you cry, it’s likely because they are trying to comfort you. They simply want to make you feel better, and provide their companionship. They may also whine or nuzzle you. It’s their way of lending a helping paw. 

Why does my dog get scared when I cough or sneeze?

Some dogs will get scared when you cough or sneeze. This can be frustrating. Some owners do their best not to cough or sneeze, because their dogs get so upset. The good news is, you can train your dog to better tolerate these natural functions. 

Believes it’s Aggressive 

Your dog may be scared when you cough or sneeze because they think you are being aggressive. Dogs will snort or snap their teeth together to show aggression. These behaviors can sound similar to your cough or sneeze. 

If your dog thinks you are being aggressive, it’s natural for them to be scared. Your poor pooch is simply misunderstanding your cues. 

Loud Noise

Some dogs are very scared of loud or unexpected noises. They can be afraid of your cough or sneeze because it’s a sudden, loud noise. Of course, this depends on how you cough or sneeze as well. 

Some people sneeze and cough quietly, while others can be very loud. It’s an involuntary reflex, so there’s very little you can do to control the volume. 

Dogs who are scared of your cough or sneeze because it’s loud will typically fear other loud noises as well. If your furry friend is scared by thunderstorms, fireworks, or loud vehicles, it’s common for them to be scared of your sneezing and coughing as well. 

Training Your Dog Not to be Scared

If your dog is frightened of your cough or sneeze, you can train them to be less fearful. Dogs learn by positive association. They learn when you grab their leash, they are going for a walk, for example. They learn when you pull your shoes off, it’s time to chill on the couch beside you. They also learn that certain things will lead to them getting a treat. 

To train your dog not to be scared, you’ll need a supply of treats. When you cough or sneeze, give them a treat at the same time. You may find it easiest to simply toss a treat, instead of attempting to give it to them by hand. Each time you sneeze or cough, give them a treat. They may begin to look forward to your coughs and sneezes. At the very least, they should be better able to tolerate them. 

Once they tolerate the sneezing and coughing well, you can slow down on the treats. Begin to give them one every other time, instead of each time. Then reduce it to once every 3 or 4 sneezes or coughs. Once they are tolerating the sneezes well without receiving treats, you can stop giving them the treats. 

It may be helpful to offer verbal praise along with the treats, when you can speak. Then you can continue the verbal praise even after the treats stop.