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Dog Afraid of Husband's Sneezes & Hiccups

by Gloria

our handsome boy

our handsome boy

our handsome boy

Caper loves the water and he swims like a fish

In the past several months we have been observing a rather unusual behavior in our dog Caper, and we are unable to find a reason for this behavior. We are concerned that it might affect him / harm him mentally if we can't solve this.

Caper sees both me and my husband as his alphas; he is obedient and respectful (we never hit him; we believe in positive reinforcement), but he also happily engages in playing activity with us. My husband might be a bit stricter than I am; or let's say...he takes "misbehavior" a bit personally while I don't.

Now, the issue: When my husband coughs or gets a hiccup, Caper stares at him (fearfully..?) and then immediately runs and goes in hiding. He would even squeeze himself through the cat flap we have installed in our porch door (we have closed the flap by now).

If I do any of those things (coughing, sneezing, or having a hiccup), Caper won't react to it. He might look up at me, but I usually say "Relax" in a calm, assuring voice, and he is fine.

Our other dog doesn't seem to be bothered at all.

Caper, a 5 year old Australian Cattle Dog, is a confident, playful, well-behaved dog. He goes to daycare 3x/week, and everyone loves him because he is so friendly, "speaks fluently Dog". He is VERY handsome and always has a big smile on his face... :-)

Caper has been part of our family since he was 8 weeks old.

Do you have any explanation why Caper might be reacting this way to my husband's coughs and hiccups? Does the noise scare him? (but only my husband's?)

Could the reason be a deeper, underlying issue that has to do with my husband?

I would be so grateful if you would be able to help us out.


Comments for Dog Afraid of Husband's Sneezes & Hiccups

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Dec 03, 2013
My Online Vet Response to: Dog Afraid of Husband's Sneezes & Hiccups
by: Dr. Lisa Brienen

Dear Gloria,

First of all Caper appears to be a very healthy, happy and good looking boy. As you may imagine, this situation is probably more complex than can be fully addressed by an online response.

But let me give you some ideas to start...

If you think back to the time when this new behavior started, you might find that there was a fearful or extremely anxious episode – that may have linked itself to your husband’s cough or hiccup in Caper’s memory.

I have sometimes found a single dose of homeopathic Aconitum 30C to be of help in behaviors that relate to a past fearful situation. You can place 2-3 pellets of the remedy into your dog’s mouth. Or the pellets may be mixed into some water on a spoon and tipped into his mouth.

Flower essences are also helpful. There are several websites describing the individual symptoms helped by each essence. Calming Solution is a good flower essence to ease a variety of anxieties. You can order it from .

Another idea would be for your husband to spend more time with Caper in bonding and fun experiences. He can take him out for one-on-one hikes, walks and play time. He may want to sign Caper up for an agility class. As they regain their ease together, the more likely it will be for Caper to cease to over react to the cough and sneeze.

If you aren’t seeing any improvement please consult a veterinary behaviorist or animal behaviorist. For a list of animal behaviorists please copy and paste into your browser the following links:

Please keep us posted by coming back to this page and clicking the 'click here to add your own comments' link below.

Sincerely, Dr. Lisa Brienen

P.S. If you've found this service or our web site helpful, please "Like" us by clicking the like button at the top of the left margin. Thank you!

DISCLAIMER: The above should never replace the advice of your local veterinarian, as they have the ability to evaluate your dog in person.

Dec 06, 2013
Thank you/ Dog Afraid of Husband's Sneezes & Hiccups
by: Gloria

Dear Dr. Tillman,

thank you for your message. I appreciate your feedback and will definitely try some of the natural remedies.
I believe you might be right about your assumption that Caper's reaction was/is triggered by something in the past. Maybe my husband had a very bad day, and he also got a hiccup... :-)

We will try to work more bonding activities into his schedule. I am definitely being the one who is much more involved with Caper & his brother, such as playing with them, feeding them, and taking care of boo-boos... Just like a mom.

Again, thank you very much.


Dec 06, 2013
Thank you Dr. Brienen/ Dog Afraid of Husband's Sneezes & Hiccups
by: Gloria

I apologize for mixing up the names.

Dear Dr. Brienen,
thank YOU for your feedback to my question about Caper...!

Mar 07, 2015
dog hiccup and sneeze reactions
by: Anonymous

It'why does my dog look scared or concerned when we hickup

It's because the sounds are very similar to those made by wolves..pack animals warning something bad us about to happen. They'll look to see of you are ok. Just pat The head and tell them you are ok. They'll be long nothing bad follows. Mine does it took.IOrdered common.

Aug 09, 2015
Same hiccup fears with my Pom NEW
by: Anonymous

My Pomeranian evades me when I have the hiccups too. He'll lower his head and tail then will slowly walk away to another room. If I go after him, I'll she his body trembling. I figured that since dogs have heightened hearing, that that sound does something to him mentally.

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