Why Do Dogs Put Their Paws on You? | Pupford
October 20th, 2023
Filed under Pet Parenting
Our dogs communicate with us in numerous ways, ranging from tail wags to playful barks. One common behavior many pup parents have experienced is their furry friend placing a paw on them. This endearing action often leaves us wondering about its meaning. Is it a sign of affection, a plea for attention, or something else altogether? In this blog post, we'll delve into the various reasons why your dog might be extending a paw.
In this article, we cover:
- Understanding Canine Body Language
- Expressing a Need or a Want
- Learning History
UNDERSTANDING CANINE BODY LANGUAGE
As much as we wish they could, our dogs can’t use their words to communicate with us. So instead they use their or vocalizations. From the furrow of their brow, the position of the ears, and even the wag of their tail; our dogs use their entire body to communicate with us and other dogs, even their paws!
WHY DOGS PUT THEIR PAWS ON US - TO EXPRESS NEEDS OR WANTS
Now that we know dogs use their body language to communicate with us, our dogs putting their paw on us is their way of expressing a need or a want. According to ., a certified applied behaviorist, “When your dog puts a paw on you it is most often a way of communication, and it doesn’t always mean the same thing.”
Here are a few examples:
Do you typically feed your dog dinner every night at 5 p.m.? Well when 5:05 rolls around, your dog may approach you and put their paw on you as a reminder that it is time to eat.
If you’ve been hard at work on the computer for a few hours your dog may approach you with a toy and put their paw on you as an indicator they are looking for some one-on-one time. This gesture can be accompanied by gentle nudges, wagging tails, or even adorable puppy eyes.
Have you ever been petting your dog and without thinking stop to scroll on your phone or change the TV channel, and they gently paw at your hand? That means don’t stop! This is our dog's way of saying they are looking for more touch and affection.
A well-potty-trained dog who doesn’t have free access to a yard might express their need to eliminate by gently putting a paw on you.
5. FEELING FEARFUL OR ANXIOUS
If your dog is afraid of thunderstorms or the construction work across the street, they may put a paw on you to seek comfort. This behavior is usually accompanied by other body language signals that indicate stress such as lip licking, a tucked tail, pinned back ears, or a whimper.
So if our dog putting their paw on us can mean so many different things how do we know what it means? This is all about context. It will depend on your dog, their body language, the environment, and maybe even the time of day.
WHY DOGS PUT THEIR PAWS ON US - LEARNING HISTORY
Alternatively, your dog may be performing a behavior that has previously been reinforced. Have you ever taught your dog a ‘shake’ or ‘paw’ cue? It’s so cute you probably gave them a treat for it right? 😉 Your dog may come up to you and offer out their paw hoping for another treat.
Dogs are creatures of habit, and if something works they will keep doing it. If every time they put their paw on you and give you those big puppy dog eyes, you give them a treat or take them outside to play, odds are they will keep doing it.
Our dogs communicate with us in many different ways, putting their paw on us being just one of them. They may be seeking attention or expressing a need. Whatever it is, the more time you take to learn what your dog is trying to communicate by assessing the context and their needs, the closer your bond with them will be.