Dogs are a ray of sunshine. But some of their cute behaviors become annoying when they start doing it all the time. One example is when dogs put their paws on you.
They might paw you because your pooch wants attention. Sometimes, it’s okay to allow it. But most times, you shouldn’t.
Why does your dog paw you? And when exactly should you encourage the behavior? Let’s dive into the details.
Why Does My Dog Put His Paw on Me?
Pawing is a typical form of communication among dogs. They might do this because they want to play with you or they want food. Dogs also put their paws on you if they sense danger.
Here are some possible reasons why dogs put their paws on their owners.
They are Seeking Attention
Your dog might be putting their paw on you because they want attention.
This is most likely the case if you haven’t been playing with them or talking to them.
Dogs crave love and affection from their humans. Ever since they were domesticated, they have been dependent on our attention and care for their survival.
Gone are the days when dogs had to hunt in the wild for food. Showing off some cute puppy eyes and pawing will now get them some yummy treats.
Or they paw at you to let you know that they feel abandoned or want to play. It’s like they’re saying, “Hey, human! Look at me. I need your attention!”
It’s up to you whether you will entertain their request or not.
If your dog enjoys the attention, they will feel rewarded. Then, they may keep pawing at you all the time. Which can get pretty annoying.
They Want Food
Another possible reason for your dog’s pawing behavior is their need for food.
This could be why your dog puts their paws on you right before you get up to feed them.
Since your furry friend cannot use words to express their hunger, they use their paw to call your attention and ask for a good meal.
Dogs also thrive on routines. They become quickly familiarized with when to eat, pee, play, and bathe.
This internal clock is rooted in dogs’ innate intuition. Check your watch the next time your dog paws you.
If you’re a few minutes late to prepare their meal, expect them to approach you and poke you with their paw.
This mealtime reminder may seem acceptable. However, over time, your dog might become more demanding.
They may rest their paw on you as a way to ask for food even if it’s not yet dinner time.
Always establish yourself as the pack leader by deciding when your dog eats. It will turn them into obedient fluffy friends too.
Canines tend to ask for help from their humans whenever they are sick, distressed, or injured. They might rest their paws on you to ease their pain and bring them comfort.
There’s a chance your dog puts their paws on you due to illness if they are crying, sensitive to touch, or are reluctant to walk on their own.
Dogs are intelligent creatures. They learn these specific actions from their owners that indicate pain and then mimic them.
Watch for these indicators if your dog is continuously pawing you all of a sudden.
If this behavior lasts for more than a couple of days, consult your veterinarian to rule out any medical reasons.
They Feel Anxious
Resting their paw on you might also mean that your puppy is scared, anxious, or worried.
Check their body language for other signs of anxiety. This is most likely the reason for their pawing if they keep barking, shaking, whining, or panting.
You’ll also notice they’re scared if they don’t wag their tail or relax their ears the way they would typically do.
Look for possible causes of fear and anxiety in your environment. Is your music too loud? Turn it down. Is it too dark? Turn on a light for your dog.
Dogs also have a higher chance of being anxious when there are fireworks, thunderstorms, and other unusual loud noises.
Some dogs develop anxiety due to past experiences of abuse or neglect.
Separation anxiety also occurs when your dog feels stressed when leaving them alone.
The best way to prevent your anxious dog from pawing you is by removing the cause of their anxiety.
They Need to Go Potty
Your pup is poking you with its paw because they want to go potty. This is most likely the reason if they just finished a whole bowl of water or if they won’t leave you alone.
Putting their paw on you is the best way to get your attention. They know you might ignore them if they only bark at you or put their face on yours.
Always make sure your dog has access to go potty, whether it’s in your yard or your indoor potty pads.
Perhaps you can also train your dog to open your back door, so they can let themselves out.
Should I Allow Pawing?
It depends. If your dog knows how to paw you only when necessary, you can tolerate the behavior. But if they put their paws on you only for attention, you should discourage the behavior.
Most of the time, owners reinforce their dog pawing with their unintentional response. They either give them treats, praise them, or simply laugh at them.
In return, dogs feel rewarded. They receive your special attention and learn that they can do it again next time.
Some dogs do not understand when you scold them for their bad behavior. They perceive your upset attitude as a form of attention, so they don’t stop the annoying gesture.
While the whole behavior is undeniably cute, too much can be annoying. It’s a good idea to teach your dog when they can paw you.
First, make sure your dog is eating at the right time, getting enough exercise, and outside time.
Providing them with these basic needs can prevent them from being hyperactive or attention-seeking.
Here are some possible instances where it’s acceptable to let your dog extend their paw to you.
When They Want to Go Potty
Only let your dog paw at you if their potty area is inaccessible and they want to pee or poop.
You can even avoid this behavior by setting up a doggie door, so they can go out when they need to.
Or take their training pads inside the house into a secluded area.
Do not tolerate your pooch poking you with their paw just because they want to go out and play. Their playtime should be strictly established as part of their routine.
When They Need to Eat
Take note that you should only allow the behavior when they need to eat, not when they want to eat.
It’s okay for dogs to rest their paw on your or caress you when it’s past their mealtime. It’s inevitable that your dog will know when their dinner is overdue.
Make sure to take the initiative by feeding your dog at the same time each day so they don’t have to get your attention when it’s dinner time.
When Your Service Dog Senses Threat
If you trained your dog to protect your property and family, their pawing behavior is acceptable and beneficial.
The same is valid for medical alert dogs trained to respond to anxiety attacks, seizures, and more.
Most of the time, untrained dogs who sense danger are simply anxious or aggressive. They put their paws on you to let you know there is a possible danger when there is none, such as fireworks or loud noises.
There are two ways you can address this issue. First, train your dog to behave well and stay relaxed. Second, treat their anxiety.
When They are Sick
It’s also okay for your dog to rest their paw on you if they feel sick.
Who else would they turn to for comfort other than you? Dogs feel better when you are around, so let them put their paws on you.
Make sure to respond to their needs by checking other signs of pain and distress. Take them to the vet if these symptoms persist.
How to Stop Your Dog From Putting His Paw on You
So what do you do if your dog keeps pawing you for no important reason? Here are some ways to stop them from putting their paws on you.
- Make sure your dog’s needs are met. Are they pawing you because they haven’t eaten yet? Feed them. That way, the behavior will stop.
- Ignore the behavior. Do not make eye contact with your dog when they’re putting their paw on you. Try not to talk to them until they stop.
- Redirect their focus. Give your dog a command word to control their behavior. Ask them to “stop” and reward them if they obey. Or you can ask your dog to “sit” before they try to paw you.
- Be consistent. Do not confuse your dog by rewarding them with attention one time, then ignoring them the next.
What Does It Mean When a Dog Crosses Its Paw?
A dog crosses their paws because it’s a comfortable position for them.
It’s more common among large dogs who spend a lot of time carrying the weight of their torso on their paws.
They spread their weight on the surface and then cross their paws to rest the shoulders when they sit down.
Check out some other possible reasons dogs cross their paws.
Why Does My Dog Put His Paw on My Face?
Dogs put their paws on your face for similar reasons that they rest their paws on your body.
You know dogs use their paws to communicate with you. They might be seeking your attention or looking for some playtime. Or they could be asking for food.
But another reason they might put their paw on you is that they want to comfort you. Dogs notice when you are sad, depressed, or scared.
Placing their paw on your face is their way of saying, “Hey, don’t worry. I’m here.”
Find out other possible reasons your dog puts their paw on your face.
Why Does My Dog Want Me to Hold His Paw?
Your dog wants you to hold its paw because they are anxious.
This is likely why they look stressed out.
Dogs with separation anxiety also ask their owners to hold their paws when they are about to leave. They want to stop their owners from going out of the house.
Learn more about why your dog wants you to hold its paw.
Give Your Dog Some Affection
Dogs can’t communicate the way humans do. So they use their paws to call your attention.
They put their paw on you when they’re anxious, sick, hungry, or clingy.
Make sure you’re giving your dog enough affection, so they don’t need to ask for it. Feed them on time, provide them with enough exercise, and take them out when necessary.
Make sure you are also taking good care of your dog’s paws. Check out our recommendations for a good dog paw moisturizer.