Why Does My Dog Huff At Me? (7 Possible Causes)

Have you ever noticed your dog huffing at you while doing something else? Perhaps you pet your dog, and she suddenly stops petting you to look away from you. Many dog owners have asked this question: Why does my dog huff at me? 

There are many reasons why your dog might be doing this, ranging from the common to the more unusual. Let’s look at some of the reasons why dogs huff at their humans.

What is a huff?

A huff is aggressive behavior in dogs. It’s a combination of growling, snarling and baring teeth with fur standing on end. Most often, it’s accompanied by a stiff body posture and some other kind of threatening gesture (snapping, barking or lunging). When your dog huffs at you, it means she feels superior to you—at least for that moment.

Why do dogs huff and puff?

Dogs huffing and puffing are quite common. And contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t necessarily mean they have allergies. To understand why your pooch is blowing off a lot of hot air lately, you have to understand a bit about dog anatomy. It all starts with the breathing apparatus—the stuff responsible for oxygen intake and carbon dioxide output in mammals.

It’s a Natural Spasm

The huff is a natural dog spasm. It’s believed to be triggered by the sudden intake of air through the mouth that causes the larynx to open and close rapidly. 

This causes the huffing sound but can also affect the dog’s esophagus and stomach, resulting in vomiting. . Dogs will often display other symptoms before they huff, including excessive panting; glazed eyes; drooling; restlessness; shaking or shivering; whining or howling (this might be caused by an ear infection); pawing at their mouths or rubbing their faces on things like walls or furniture. These are all warning signs that your pup may need medical attention.

They’re feeling stressed

A dog’s huff is often used as a way to communicate when he’s feeling stressed, bored or in pain. He might huff for any of these reasons. For example, if you keep your pup on a leash and try to rush him through his walks, he may feel like you’re being too harsh and huff at you. 

You should also keep an eye out for other signs that your dog isn’t comfortable: If his body language seems tense (he looks uncomfortable), if he stops paying attention to you during playtime or if his eyes look glossy instead of shiny and alert. 

The air temperature doesn’t match his coat type: Dogs have different coat types depending on their breed. Some dogs have double coats (like Huskies), while others have single coats (like Dachshunds). Double-coated dogs need extra insulation from cold weather because they don’t shed much fur and don’t release heat well—this makes them more likely to huff than their single-coated counterparts.

It’s a sign of feeling threatened and aggression

You might be surprised to hear that huffing is a sign of stress and can be one of the reasons why dogs huff. The key word here is sometimes. So how do you know if your dog huffs at you because he feels threatened or aggressive? You need to look for the other signs before concluding that the dog feels threatened or aggressive. 

Dogs will typically stay still, huffing and showing teeth as a sign of warning or defensive posture when they feel threatened by something. To make it easier for you to understand, let’s say a stranger is standing in front of your house gate. 

Your dog will probably bark aggressively at him while staying put instead of running up to him, like most dogs would do (if they don’t feel threatened). If, however, your dog runs up to him with tail wagging and ears perked up after barking aggressively at him, then there’s no reason for concern.

They’re feeling happy and content

Think of huffing as a dog’s way of expressing their inner joy and how content they are. Just like when we humans smile, dogs feel happy and want to say that emotion—and one of the easiest ways for them to do so is by huffing. 

It’s an involuntary action that dogs are born knowing how to do, just like licking and tail wagging. A more common reason why your dog might be huffing at you is that they’re showing submission. If you see your pup puffing up his fur while making eye contact with you, it could mean he feels intimidated or frightened and wants to let you know he respects you as his alpha leader.

They could be disappointed

Dogs huff at us to communicate their dissatisfaction with something. It’s not a passive-aggressive way of saying, I hate you. Instead, the dog is showing frustration through the huff. If your dog is huffing at you, it might be time to adjust their expectations and see if you can find a common ground that works for both of you—don’t just ignore them! 

When dogs are expecting something, like a walk or food or attention, they get frustrated when those things don’t happen as quickly as they want. If you want to avoid an angry canine who shows his anger by huffing at you, try doing what he wants faster.

They’re anticipating something fun

It might seem weird, but dogs will sometimes huff when they anticipate something fun—for example if they’re waiting for you to throw a ball. So if your dog starts panting and running around like crazy, he’s probably up to something extraordinary! 

The most common way dogs greet each other is by sniffing each other’s noses. When two dogs sniff each other, they are getting acquainted with one another in an amicable way (you can read more about dog nose-sniffing here). If your dog is doing this to you, she likes you!

If your dog is standing still and looking at you with her mouth open, she could be ready for snuggles or maybe even food.

They’re eating too fast

Dogs huff and puff for a few reasons. Fast eating is one of them. It’s not surprising that dogs eat so quickly; if they don’t finish their food, there may not be any left! But regardless of whether your dog gobbles down his food to guard against others snatching it or because he’s hungry, inhaling his kibble too quickly can make him huff. 

Your pup may also huff if you try to take away his bowl while he’s still eating—he doesn’t want you stealing his dinner! If your dog gulps down her meal in less than five minutes, slow her down by feeding her smaller portions more frequently throughout the day. 

If she eats faster than you can fill her bowl, spread out meals over two or three mealtimes instead of just one. You might also try slowing her down by using an interactive toy like a Kong Wobbler stuffed with peanut butter. As she works at getting all of the yummy stuff out, she’ll likely spend more time chewing and digesting her food slowly rather than bolting it down.