Why Do Dogs Sneeze When They Play?

Why Do Dogs Sneeze When They Play?

This story originally appeared in BarkPost email, the new home of BarkPost’s original articles. If you want silly stories, fascinating dog facts, cute pup pics, and puplifting stories every week, sign up at!

You may have your own reasons for loving your dog– their cuddly fur, their perfect faces, their everlasting loyalty. As for me, I love dogs most of all when they’re rowdy. I will literally roll on the floor with any dog (ask my coworkers.) I’ll grab any drooly old raggedy toy and hold onto that thing for dear life if there’s a good game of tug of war to be had. The feistier and rowdier the dog, the more I love ’em.

Which means I’m no stranger to the sneeze.

Maybe you’ve noticed this too. The more you play with your pup– or when your dog gets in a high-energy rassle with their pup friends– the more likely they’ll sneak a sneeze in the middle of their GRRRRs and RUFFs.

So what’s going on here? Are dogs allergic to a good time? Are they trying to distract their rival with a well-aimed germ cloud so that they can seize the advantage and snag the tennis ball? Or maybe they’re just testing how polite you are (don’t forget to say bless you, folks.)

As it turns out, dogs sneeze to say: “I’m having a great tiiiiime!”

To maximize sneezes for your dog sign up for BarkBox. Every month BarkBox delivers 2 original toys, designed in-house, 2 full bags of all-natural treats, and a scrumptious chew. Our treats are made in the USA and Canada, and our recipes never contain any wheat, soy, or corn. Because we want #BarkBoxDay to be incredible for pups AND their parents, every box is wrapped in a fun surprise theme that changes monthly. Sign up here and receive a free extra toy every month.

Dog GIfts

According to Canine University, the sneeze is a dog’s signal to the other dog that a rowdy dance/fight play sesh is strictly play– so both dogs know it’s all in good fun. Katherine Smith, a dog trainer and Dog Behavior Consultant, says the sneeze is a mark of when your dog “is really loving what you’re doing.”

So our pups have found a weird new way to say, “maybe it LOOKS like we’re fighting, but it’s all cool, we’re buds!!”

As always, I’m inspired by the weird and fascinating things dog teach us! So I decided to try it for myself.

If it can work for our dogs, why not humans?


Step 1: Start A Play-Fight! Find a stranger and get the party started!

Step 2: Growl and Bark! The louder and meaner you get, the more fun it is for everyone.

Step 3: Sneeze! Aim a couple aachoo’s in that stranger’s face, and watch the tension melt away. Next thing you know he’ll be sneezing right back. We’re friends now!

Okaaaay well this did not turn out as planned. I guess some things work better for our dogs than they do for us. But the good news is, I think I made a new friend!

Thanks for reading! And sign up for BarkPost email to get our silly stories, fascinating dog facts, cute pup pics, and puplifting stories every week!