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Yetanotheruser's avatar

Why does my dog go crazy anytime someone (human) sneezes?

Asked by Yetanotheruser (14823 points ) March 2nd, 2011

She is an 8½ year old “Aussie/Shepherd” mix (at least that’s what they told us at the shelter). She is a pretty mellow dog most of the time, excitable by the usual things (the jingle of the leash for “walkies”, the rustle of the box of treats, etc.).

I have a tendency to sneeze rather loudly, and she has lately taken to being startled by my sneeze, and answering with a bark. At first I thought she was interpreting the sneeze as a bark, and wanted to play. Recently, though, she has just been leaving the room (quickly), or wanting to go out into the fenced-in yard.

Can anyone provide me with any insights or clues to this behavior?

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12 Answers

SpatzieLover's avatar

You scare her. Our girl dog is a “shy” dog. She runs and hides when she hears a sneeze or a loud cough.

Kardamom's avatar

Dog’s hearing is much more sensitive than humans. Imagine if hearing a sneeze (to you) were amplified ten or a hundred times. Some of my relatives have sneezes that are so loud that I’ve felt like I was going to have a heart attack or piss my pants from being startled. Imagine what it’s like for a poor doggy. If you are prone to sneezing, make sure you always have a big wad of tissues in your pocket and try to sneeze into the tissue to stifle the sound when you gotta sneeze. If you absolutely cannot help it and it startles your dog, make sure to give him/her lots of rubs and kisses and sweet talk after the fact.

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Plucky's avatar

It sounds like you are startling her. Your loud sneeze is like sneezing directly into her ear. How long have you had her? If it is a new noise to her, it will just take some time to get used to the noise. All you can do is remain calm and assure her that everything is ok ..and reward her for calm behaviour in return.
It’s also possible that her previous human companions had a certain routine behaviour when they sneezed ..and she is only following that routine. People are weird ..you never know.
Do you know if she was abused before you adopted her? Does she respond in the same way to other loud abrupt noises?

longtresses's avatar

If you have a smoke alarm in the house, soon your dog may develop a fear of the low-battery beeps too. Whenever one of the smoke alarms in my house beeps due to low battery, my dog would tremble like crazy. He would either leave the house or stay very close to us, and it’s impossible to get him de-conditioned to that sound. I guess it’s because it’s both very loud and coming from an unknown source.

partyparty's avatar

I think you are perhaps frightening your dog by your sudden and loud sneeze, particularly if your dog is asleep.
My dogs react the same

thorninmud's avatar

I don’t think it’s necessarily the loudness or the startling that’s the problem. We had a sheltie who went crazy over sneezes (among a wide assortment of other sounds, but especially sneezes). It was so bad that we would really try to stifle our sneezes when we were around her, and sometimes even when we would manage to hold it in she would see that we were sneezing and still go nuts. Like running-over-and-mauling-her-stuffed-toy nuts. It got to where she would start barking when she saw someone reach for a Kleenex.

Other sounds that had the same effect on her were the sound of packing tape peeling off the roll, the microwave beep, and the phone ring (even though we had it on the very softest setting). It really didn’t seem to be a matter of volume. But I can’t offer an alternative explanation. God knows I tried to figure it out, though.

WasCy's avatar

Willow has learned to adapt and get used to most of the sounds in and around my house, except…

The doorbell (or even the sound of a doorbell on television) will send her into a tizzy. (She perked up just now as I started to write about a doorbell, and I haven’t said a word out loud.)

My neighbors. I don’t know a good way to say this, but Willow, whom I got from a shelter where they told me that she came from North Carolina, seems to be racist. I live in a mixed-race neighborhood, and my next door neighbor is the nicest man you could hope to have as a neighbor, and black. If Willow so much as hears a peep from that side of the house then she’s off, and worse if she’s outside in the (fenced) back yard and sees him or anyone who visits him. He and I are friendly but not close, so he kind of gives me a cockeyed smile, as if to ask “How are you training her?” but he never says a word about it. Also, in the summer time when the front windows are open more and she can hear people walk down the sidewalk, the black kids get ‘what for’, and everyone else seems to get a pass. It’s a little embarrassing sometimes.

Sometimes when I used to cook (badly) and the ‘supper alarm’ (sold as a ‘smoke alarm’) would go off, that bothered both of us a lot. Fortunately my cooking has improved greatly. Well, that, and I eat a lot more cold turkey sandwiches.

Telephone ringing (since it happens so infrequently) merely startles her, but she’s quiet for that. (If I talk for awhile on the phone then she starts talking, too.) And my sneezes, which used to cow her, don’t bother her so much now. I think that’s because when I used to see her reaction then I’d laugh (at her, for that) and she got used to my sneezing resulting in my laughing, so she got that things were okay after all.

john65pennington's avatar

If you are her master, your sneezing is a danger signal to her. She thinks something is wrong with you and panics. This also happens with border collies.

Its normal.

crisw's avatar

Many herding breeds are very sound-sensitive. She is indeed frightened by the noise. If she were a goat, it would be a danger signal! Be assured that it does not mean she was abused.

We had a Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever once who was also terrified of sneezing.

peridot's avatar

My cat is like that too. Unless she’s in a deep sleep, she’ll run out of the room if I even look like I’m about to sneeze. She also gets pissed off when I put on lotion; I can only imagine what that stuff smells like to her far-more-sensitive nose.

Robinson's avatar

perhaps the muslims are right and when you sneeze you are pushing out bad spirits such as shayton and your dog is senseing that and trying to protect you

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