Does your dog insist on having their paw held? Do they do it at a particular time of the day? It could mean they need something from you.
Some will say it’s cute and harmless behavior. But we can show you that is not always the case.
Find out why your dog wants you to hold their paw, whether you should encourage it, and what you should do about it.
Why Your Dog Wants You to Hold Their Paw
There are many possible reasons your dog might ask you to hold their paws. They might be asking for food and attention, or they might be sensing danger.
This behavior is harmless and normal. Dogs naturally use their paws to communicate with their fellow dogs and humans. But we need to know why they’re doing it.
You can start to get an idea why if you can remember what else was happening when your dog started asking you to hold their paws.
Was there a loud noise? Was there a change in temperature? Were they hungry? Or were you eating something enticing?
Also notice your dog’s body language. Ask yourself, does your dog seem happy once they get you to hold their paw? Or do they look anxious?
Let’s look at some of these reasons why your dog might want you to hold their paw.
Your Dog Wants Something From You
If your dog looks at you with puppy eyes and paw up, it could be because they need something from you.
Let’s say you regularly take your dog on walks every afternoon. They might be asking for a walk if they want you to hold their paws in the middle of the day.
Dogs center their life on routine. So if they notice their afternoon walk, dinner, or playtime is getting late, they might put their paws out to you.
Your dog may also want your attention and care. Look for signs of sickness and pain if your dog suddenly asks you to hold their paw out of nowhere.
Your Dog is Anxious
Your dog might be asking you to hold their paws if they are anxious.
This is most likely the cause if they do it when you’re leaving the house or if they hear a loud noise. Some dogs also do it when there are fireworks outside.
Dogs can also develop anxiety because of past experiences. They might hold out their paws because they are scared of being abandoned.
Some dogs want you to hold their paws to feel protected when they see other dogs. This can happen if they were previously attacked.
Look for other signs of anxiety in your dog, such as barking, shivering, escaping, self-harming, and destroying the furniture.
Your Dog Did Something Wrong
Your dog might be holding out their paw to apologize for a mistake they made.
Some related signs that your dog feels guilty or ashamed include a tucked tail, cowering, flattened ears, and visible whites of the eyes.
This scenario rarely happens since most dogs cower and avoid eye contact when they are guilty.
If this happens, do not scold your dog. Accidents happen, and you’re lucky your dog knows when they have done something wrong.
It’s a Learned Behavior
Another probable cause is that your dog gets rewarded every time they ask you to hold their paw.
They have learned this behavior because not only did you tolerate it, but you also unintentionally rewarded it.
You might not notice that you give your dog belly rubs and special attention each time they hold out their paws. Or you offer them treats and toys.
The next time they do it, they know what to expect from you.
This learned behavior may also be a result of training. Your professional trainer probably trained your dog to get them to hold their paws.
This behavior might be cute and harmless to you. But over time, it can become a nuisance.
It is up to you to decide whether this behavior deserves a reward or not.
Your Dog is Alerting You
Maybe your dog senses a threat and wants to inform you about it. As a result, they extend their paws and ask you to hold them.
This is more likely the case if they do it at a particular time out of nowhere, like when you’re busy in the kitchen or at night.
Check your dog’s body language. Are they growling? Are their ears in a different position? Does their torso look tense?
Dogs are naturally alert because of their keen senses. They can hear and smell from afar, so a slight commotion might trigger them.
However, it’s not normal for dogs to react to everything exaggeratedly.
An overly alert dog is either anxious or aggressive. Treat the root cause of their anxiety to help put a stop to this behavior.
Should You Encourage Your Dog to Let You Hold Their Paw?
You can absolutely encourage your dog if they are simply looking for comfort or they want to tell you something.
If your dog is looking for comfort, it’s okay to encourage the behavior, provided it is not excessive.
If they are only doing it occasionally you can indulge them with some love and attention.
But if your dog’s behavior becomes compulsive, or they are showing signs of anxiety, you should discourage them by removing the reward.
At first, this behavior might be cute, but it can become compulsive if you keep giving them attention or treats.
You can start by trying to ignore them when they reach out to you. Your lack of attention may be enough to stop this behavior.
If this doesn’t work try talking to your vet or behavioral specialist if you’re worried about your dog handing their paw to you too much. They can help you get to the root of the problem.
What to Do About Your Dog Wanting You to Hold Their Paw
Below are some tips to prevent your dog from reaching to you to hold their paw.
Give Them What They Need, Not What They Want
If your dog gives you their paw because you haven’t fed or taken them on a walk yet, it’s time to give them what they need.
You can prevent your dog from continuously pawing by providing a stable routine. Feed them at the same time every day. Walk them and let them out for potty breaks at the same time.
Establishing a solid routine will teach them when they can expect certain things. And hopefully they won’t need to ask you with their paws.
This rule only applies to giving your dog what they need, not what they want. If your dog extends their paws for a treat, ignore them.
Do Not Reward Your Dog Unintentionally
Sometimes, you reward your dog without meaning to do it.
It can help to ignore their behavior every time they want you to hold their paw. If your dog only wants to receive treats and attention you can ignore them.
Do not even scold them. Some dogs will consider any attention a reward. They will enjoy eye contact and you talking, so they will keep giving you their paw.
Only reward your dog when they are behaving the way you want. This will teach your fur baby what they should and shouldn’t do.
Redirect Your Dog’s Focus
Another option that can get your dog to stop giving you their paw is to ignore the behavior and then get them to do something else.
If they start offering you their paw, try to give them a command.
For instance, ask them to “sit.” If they sit, offer them a treat. Or you can ask them to lie down before they try holding out their paw.
If your dog is about to give you their paw to ask for a walk, get up and walk them right away.
Doing these things can get your dog to stop their habit of asking for attention.
How to Teach Your Dog to Give You Their Paw
You can also teach your dog to offer their paw to you. This can be a way to get them to understand that you only want their paw when you ask for it.
Try out these steps to teach your dog this new command.
- Establish a command word like “paw” or “shake”. Ensure that the term is short and does not sound like other command words they know.
- Try to take your dog’s paw as if you’re shaking hands. If they extend it, say the command word and give them a treat.
- Hold another treat in your closed fist and let your dog smell it.
- Repeat the command word.
- If your dog lets out their paw on their own, offer the treat and give them praise. If they don’t obey, go back to the first step.
- Do these training sessions in short bursts.
Once your dog has mastered the art of extending their paw they will automatically do it even without you asking. Dogs will ask you to hold their paws even if you don’t have a treat with you.
Check out this video for a more detailed look at teaching your dog to “shake”.
What Does it Mean When a Dog Crosses Their Paws?
Your dog crosses their paws because it makes them feel comfortable.
They do it to spread their weight throughout their surface and relax their whole body while lying down. Notice how their elbows are also at a certain angle.
This position is also common among dogs who want to express their submission and dogs who are relaxed.
Check out this list of reasons why your dog crosses their paws.
Why Does My Dog Put His Paw on Me?
Your dog may be putting their paw on you because they are seeking attention.
They’re asking you to show them extra love through belly rubs or treats. Or they’re calling your attention to ask for food.
Look at the rest of your dog’s body language to know why they are putting their paw on you.
For example, a wagging tail is a sign that they only want to play. But if they look stiff and sad, they might be hungry or sick.
Find out the other possible reasons your dog is putting their paw on you.
Why Does My Dog Put Their Paw on My Face?
Your dog puts their paw on your face because they need something from you.
They might be thirsty, hungry, sick, or just feeling clingy.
As you can see, dogs use their paws to communicate with humans. Look at the rest of their body language to identify what they need from you.
Or check if the behavior has been reinforced. Some dogs paw your face because they get unintentionally rewarded with attention for it.
Check out why your dog could be putting their paw on your face.
Anything is Paw-Sible With Proper Training!
Proper training is the solution, whether you want to encourage or discourage your dog from letting you hold their paws.
Make sure you only allow your dog to give you their paw for essential purposes, like when they need to pee, drink, or eat.
You can teach them this trick by establishing a command word like “paw.”
If your dog only extends their paws because they want your attention, ignore them or redirect their focus.
Does your dog also put their paws on your face? Find out more about why your dog extends their paw to your face.