Dog Huffing: New Noises Mean New Worries

Have you ever worried about unfamiliar dog whimpers and whines? If you’re a dog owner, it’s possible you’ve noticed an odd coughing, wheezing, or sneeze-like sound coming from your beloved pup. As proud as puppy parents, it’s perfectly normal to wonder if the noises you hear are routine or something to investigate.

Anytime your pet makes that strange cackle of coughs, I refer to it as dog huffing. We’re spelling out when it’s safe to let your dog squeal his heart out and when to seek veterinary assistance.

As an animal caretaker myself, I know what it’s like to worry that you’re missing warning signs from a furry friend. Whether he’s sleeping or wide awake, whimpering or whining, here are a few reasons why your pup’s making that sound.



If your dog is asleep and making strange noises, it’s likely he’s dreaming and, as humans do on occasion, talking in his sleep. When people get shut-eye, our nights are sometimes filled with complex dreams revealing our inner turmoils and daily stressors.

Dogs experience a much simpler version of dreams which usually means a basic reenactment of recent memories. This often includes running, jumping and, of course, barking in their sleep.

Whatever you do, do not wake up the pup. No matter how distressed he appears, forcing him to wake up may frighten your dog, lead to a violent and defensive reaction or prevent him from getting those much-needed zzz’s.

It’s also possible that your dog is barking but experiencing pleasant dreams which involve chasing animals across your yard, exploring a new toy or even playing with his beloved owner (you).


If you’re just dying to relieve him of nightmares, or you’re not getting enough sleep because he’s persistently barking, try saying his name loudly or snapping your fingers at a safe distance. That way he’ll then awake without putting you at risk.

To help your dog relax before bedtime and quiet those nighttime noises, I recommend placing toys around his sleeping area. Many dogs love kneading their paws into something soft and squishy as a way to wind down. If your pup is especially energized, having an outlet such as nuzzling with toys and clawing at fabrics, may help his mind shut off and stay off.

Attention Getter

Some pups make weird wheezing and whimpering noises when they’re wide awake. This usually means they want your attention and are testing out new sounds to figure out which one works.

If you suspect this is the case, pay attention to what your dog may want. Food? Water? Bathroom break? Once you’ve exhausted all options, it might be time to consider whether your dog has a case of separation anxiety, and simply refuses to spend time alone or without the constant comfort of your pets, treats and general presence.


To prevent your pup from treating you like human velcro, stop attending to her whenever she barks or whenever she does something good. Constant rewards give dogs the wrong idea and train them to expect constant love and attention. This means that without your presence, they begin to feel anxious and sad and may even start whimpering when their needs aren’t met.

If your dog feels bored, restless or is suffering from a mild case of pet separation anxiety, consider buying her a chew toy or teaching her a few games to keep her busy and satisfied indoors.

Reverse Sneezer

When your dog begins to reverse freeze, it’s likely to put pet parents in a complete panic. Reverse sneezing is when animals, typically dogs, experience a sharp pull of air into the nostril, as opposed to an ordinary sneeze which pushes air out.

Reverse sneezes can be noisy and sound like your pet is choking or even having a severe asthma attack. And it may result in an emergency trip to the vet if the noise is loud, sharp or especially strange.

Reverse sneezing can be attributed to something as simple as your pet’s sudden excitement or as preventable as a new household cleaner, pollen allergies or a collar that’s too tight. Track sudden changes in your pup’s environment or changes in the products you use around his environment to prevent continuous sneezing.


If the sneezing becomes chronic, check in with your vet to make sure the sneezing isn’t related to a more serious health problem.

Not sure what counts as reverse sneezing? Check out this video and compare your dog’s whines.


Any noise your dog makes is a reflection of how they’re feeling and, like the inflection we as people inject into our own conversations, different dog noises mean different dog emotions.

The standard bark signals alarm, excitement or a demand for something like food and water.


Growling means your dog is displeased with whatever you are doing or whatever is happening around her. If growling persists, figure out what’s making her uncomfortable and make a quick change.

While growling means your dog feels threatened or uncomfortable, a soft sounding whimpering might mean your dog is in pain. Consult your vet if the whimpering persists because pain is never something to ignore.

Keep in mind that whimpering is different from a high-pitched whine, which typically means your dog wants something from you, like attention or a break outside.

For a full guide to your dog’s different sounds, check out this pup glossary.

In Conclusion

The trick to translating dog huffing and the many sounds your precious pup lets out is getting to know your dog well.

Know what she likes, what bothers her, when she likes to eat and what gets her moving after a long nap. What excites her, what scares her, what noises are normal for her to howl out on any given morning.

Comment below with any other questions you have and please remain an attentive owner! Don’t be forget to share this article with your friends and family if you’ve found it useful. If you’re worried about dog huffing in the first place, you’re probably doing just fine as a parent.

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June Frazier

Hello, Everyone! My name is June, and I live in North Dakota with my dog, Toby.Dogs are my passion, which had led me to dedicate my life to caring for and training dogs, a life that I began to lead as soon as I graduated high school. With a wealth of knowledge to pass on, I decided to make this blog and share my experience with my fellow dog lovers!

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