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Why Does My Dog Put His Paw On Me?

Why Does My Dog Put His Paw On Me Feature Image

Have you ever wondered: why does my dog put his paw on me?

Canines use their paws to communicate. Over thousands of years, they have evolved alongside humans. Thus, they have a remarkable potential to apply this form of communication to us–an entirely different species.

There are many reasons why do dogs put their paws on you. The answer will most probably be connected to when your furry friend is doing it–it is possible that your dog might be trying to tell you something.

Reasons Your Dog Puts His Paw On You

For Attention

This is likely one of the causes as to why do dogs paw at you. Pups putting their paws on their owners is really no different than a toddler tugging his mother's leg when he is trying to tell her something. When your dog paws at you, he is simply communicating in one of the means that he knows how, pushy as it may be at times [1].

Your dog thrives on human companionship. They are bred to be dependent on humans for everything–including social interaction and fun–so they are not hesitant to let their owners know they are feeling neglected. 

As responsible dog owners, it's also necessary to ensure that you meet your dogs' needs. It's possible that this behavior has been reinforced in the past as well–maybe unintentionally (laughing or giving eye contact) and intentionally ( responding by playing with the pup).

Along with this, your pup might also be trying to say sorry for something he has done. Guilty pups may throw their paw on their owners while wearing a very guilty face. Thus, pawing you can be their way of showing their submission to you at that moment and of course, asking for forgiveness.

Why Does My Dog Paw at Me When I Pet Him

They Are Hungry or Thirsty

Another reason for your question, why does my dog put his paw on me, is most likely because your pup is hungry or thirsty.

When you're busy and it is getting close to dinner time, your pup may feel the need to remind you of his hunger. Since pups cannot express through words to tell how hungry they are, they have to get creative with their communication and hope their owners would understand them. 

When they are ready to eat, a hungry or thirsty pup may paw at your legs together with a possible nudge of his food bowl.

They Want to Play

This is probably one of the common causes of why does your dog puts paw on you. If Fido gets a toy when you pay attention or bounces away from you in a play bow, it is likely that he wants to play. 

Dogs usually initiate play by pawing towards their play recipient. They do this with other dogs, people, and even birds, cats, or other animals.

During a game of exploration, if your pet is uncertain, he simply puts his paws on you to show his uncertainty. To encourage his confidence, try doing the activity first.

Asking You Not to Stop

While you are petting them, some dogs may hold your hand or arm with one or both paws. This can be because your pooch may be directing your hand to just where they want to be scratched or it can be a return of affection.

They may also hold your hand to their head in an attempt to make the petting go on forever. And when you stop petting them, many dogs will either try to drag the hand back or will grab your hand with their paw or even their teeth back to petting. 

Dogs are creative communicators who typically have hilarious ways of getting what they want and expressing themselves. A dog may use their paws to ask their owners to start petting, keep petting, or never stop petting.

Another possible reason for your ‘why is my dog putting his paw on me' question is perhaps they are feeling insecure or anxious.

Why Does Dog Put Paw On Me

In dog language, a raised paw can indicate that your pup is feeling stressed. Observe the rest of your dog's body language–is he feeling insecure or displaying other signs of anxiety such as yawning, lip-smacking, and flat ears? 

If so, consider why he might feel that way. Did you lose your temper with him? Was there an argument in the household? Is your dog in a new environment? The best thing you can do if he is worried is to try to distract him from what he is thinking about and to stay positive. 

A great way to do this is by changing the environment or playing with a toy. Try not to console and comfort your pup though–this can reinforce to Fido that there's something to worry about.

Expressing Love

What does it mean when a dog puts his paw on you? When your dog puts his paw on you it could mean he is trying to express his love for you.

Studies have shown that oxytocin or the “feel good” hormones are released by both dogs and humans during a petting session. Your pup is further extending contact and reciprocating affection back by putting his paw on you while you are stroking him. 

So next time your dog puts his paw on you to say “I love you,” show him some love back and give him a good head scratch.

Apart from this, dog pawing also does not mean, “I am your master.” The notion that dogs are trying to be pack leaders and to dominate us is quite outdated. However, you will be surprised at how many dog owners still think this is true. 

There are even some professional dog trainers out there who utilize this concept to rationalize punishment in order to solve issues.

As dogs evolved from wolves, it is assumed that all communication and behavior will be similar. Sadly, the notion of how wolves behave is derived from wolves studies in captivity, none of who were connected. 

Thus, a huge debate broke out! Hence, next time your dog puts his paw on you, look at their body language and expression–does Fido look like he is attempting to put you in your place? Or the explanations above seem more realistic?

Why Does My Dog Put Her Paw on Me

What Should I Do About My Dog Pawing Me?

Now that we've touched upon the query: why do dogs paw you? Let us also cover what you should do about your dog putting its paw on you.

If you're busy, you can teach your pet that he must wait for it and he can't always have your affection or attention. However, don't forget to give your pet the attention he craves or he may just turn that energy on your house. High energy breeds may require physical and mental exercise and plenty of attention, and if you are not providing it, you can bet that Fido will find ways to get your attention.

Teaching him not to put his paws on you can be achieved by helping him understand two points:

  1. Putting his paw on you is not the most effective way of getting your attention.
  2. You will get the attention you crave, but you will have to wait for it.

The fact is, no owner wants to feel pestered by their pet and they can't always give their dogs the attention their pets want when they want it. Begin by teaching Fido a new way to get attention. 

When you notice he's about to paw at you, ask him to sit. Then, toss a toy for him or give his affection. If Fido paws at you, ignore him until he sits. Once your pooch is sitting for attention rather than pawing, you can move onto the next training stage: wait for attention.

When he sits for attention, tell him “not now” and ignore your pooch until he walks away, then offer him attention. This is a great time to use a food-dispensing toy or a good chew toy to occupy Fido without occupying your time.

Until your dog is going several hours without bothering you, continue extending the time that he has to wait for your attention. Be sure to give your dog a trip to the dog park, a good long walk, or a play session after being patient for several hours. 

In time, your dog will learn that he can get what he wants if he waits patiently for it and that he can express his need for engagement just by sitting in front of you.

Dog Seeking Attention Signs

How to Stop Your Dog from Putting Paws on You?

Besides understanding, why do dogs give you their paw and what you can do about their dog pawing? If your dog's pawing becomes consistent to the point that it's becoming disturbing, then you need to put a stop to it.

Indeed, however sweet it can be, there are times when we would rather not have our dogs' paw on us–particularly if we are trying to concentrate on something else, or if it's dirty and we are wearing delicate fabrics. There are some ways you can deal with this gently without resorting to harsh methods.

  1. Ignore your dog's pawing and don't even give him eye contact. Move your body so your dog won't be able to reach you. Once his dog pawing has stopped, offer him plenty of praise.
  2. Stay consistent. If you don't want Fido to paw you, don't confuse him. Never offer attention when he does.
  3. If his pawing becomes too frequent when he wants something, be sure that his needs are met before you sit down and relax. Is he getting enough mental stimulation and exercise? Puzzle feeders, indoor games, and toys can help if Fido is bored. Then again, nothing can match a good walk.
  4. If he attempts to put his paw on you during a petting session, try and pet him in a position where it is difficult for him to paw you such as when he has his back to you, is standing up, or lying down.

Eventually, your pup will learn all your hints. However, if you manage to go a long way and still continues to paw you despite providing his needs, you may also want to look into having a professional dog trainer to meet your pooch and help you train.

Dogs Use Their Paws To Communicate

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I be concerned if my dog always puts his paw on me?

It depends on the reason behind it. However, if you notice that his pawing is his way to get your attention with his ears pricked as he focuses on you, glances around, and paces while pawing at you, this could mean he is anxious. 

An anxious pooch is more likely to paw at you instead of simply laying a paw on you, but some dogs attempting to manifest self-control may contain themselves and just lay a paw on their owners between pacing.

A dog showing these signs may be in pain or anxious. The signs can be hard to tell apart. Have your veterinarian examine your dog to make sure he is not in pain. 

Medications prescribed by your vet may help with chronic pain or serious anxiety, or a homeopathic remedy or an over-the-counter medicine may be a good solution for your dog.

Should I allow my dog to put its paw on me?

Again, it depends. Dogs have several reasons why they like to paw. Some owners think this behavior is disruptive and rude, while other owners will tolerate it. But if the dog is smaller, it is often viewed as more tolerable since pawing from a small breed isn't likely to cause any problems. 

However, if your dog paws at you while you're petting him, it's likely that he's expanding contact and reciprocating affection back at you. Your dog could be seeking your attention and could be insecure, a sign that you should allow your dog to put its paw on you and show him a little extra love.

Is a dog pawing a bad behavior?

No, dog pawing is not a bad behavior. In fact, dog pawing behavior is an inherent and natural way for your dog or pup to get you to “focus” on them. Depending on how frequent your dog resorts to this method, it can be an annoying or acceptable habit. That's why you should monitor when and why he is pawing you.

Conclusion

Overall, there are a variety of reasons in which dogs are trying to communicate with the use of their paws. While a few of these reasons are tender by nature, there are always better styles of communication that your dog can practice to gain your attention. Get to know your precious furry friend's quirks, and help him to practice better manners to get the attention that he seeks!