Why Does My Dog Put His Paw On Me?
Do you ever catch your dog putting his paw on you? If so, it could be a sign that your pup loves and trusts you. Dogs are intelligent, social animals that crave physical contact with their people. Dog pawing is a common sign of affection from a pup and there are plenty of other behaviors that indicate your pup is fond of you.
What is Dog Pawing?
Pawing is when a dog presses their paw on you, usually in a bid for attention. It can also be a method of communication. Dogs use body language to communicate with humans and one such way is pawing—which can be heavy, light, and in a range of other ways.
What Does Pawing Mean?
Pawing is usually a sign that your pup loves you. Dogs, like humans, crave physical contact and showing affection with their paw is a way to show they care. It could also mean they need something—food, water, a walk, or simply more activity—so it’s a great idea to watch your pup’s behavior for other clues.
Pawing can also be a sign of dominance. Dogs naturally have hierarchical behaviors, but this form of pawing will be more aggressive, with your pup baring their teeth as if to intimidate and show dominance. This is a behavior that should be discouraged early on and steers away from affectionate pawing.
How to Encourage Pawing
If your pup is pawing at you in a friendly, affectionate way, great! Here are some tips to encourage and reply to pawing in a positive way.
- Be sure to pet your pup in return, reassuring them you love them as much as they do. Showing your pup love should provide a mutual feeling of affection, ultimately strengthening your bond.
- Signal back with an upside down ‘play bow’. When your pup offers you their paw, you can show you’d like to engage with them by offering them an upside down ‘play bow.’ Start by putting your head down, with your butt in the air and offering a few barks. This lets your pup know you’d like to interact and have some fun!
- Don’t go overboard with belly rubs. You may be tempted to rub your pup’s belly or scratch their head or ears when they put their paw on you. In order to remain the leader, it’s best for your pup’s behavior if you only do so when you initiate it. Otherwise, especially if your pup dominates, it could encourage the behavior.
- Be consistent with your response. The most important thing to remember when dealing with pawing is to be consistent. If you give your pup a pat one time, be sure to do it every time your pup offers you their paw. It will let them know that the behavior is acceptable and, ultimately, appreciated.
What If The Dog Pawing Is Demanding?
It’s possible to end up with a pup who uses pawing in an overly demanding way—like when they want food or attention. This is never a good form of interaction as it could evolve into a chronically demanding behavior.
If your pup is pawing for attention, it’s best to ignore the behavior and only encourage them when they’re acting politely. Making sure to pet and show your pup attention at a consistent time will also teach them to wait politely. Rewarding good behavior—like sitting and quietly waiting—is also key in training puppies.
Signs Of Other Common Affectionate Behaviors
If your pup isn’t pawing you for attention, but you’d still like to be sure that he loves you, then here are some other common signs of affection in dogs.
- Leaning On You. Leaning on your leg or jumping up on your lap is a sign of trust. It shows that your pup not only loves you, but also feels safe and secure around you.
- Going Near You When Scared. If your pup is scared, he may go to you—even if he was frightened by you initially. This is because, above all else, your pup knows you can make them feel safe and secure.
- Licking Your Face. Licking is a common sign of affection, especially if they’re licking your face. Be careful, though, as some pups may use their tongues to show dominance.
- Following You Everywhere. If your pup follows you everywhere—from room to room, car ride to car ride—he likely loves you beyond words. This is a sign that your pup loves your company, loves being around you, and trusts you.
- Slowly Wagging Tail. When your pup wants to show you love, his tail may move slowly, not wagging widely or quickly. This type of slow, gentle movement is meant to show you affection.
Dog pawing is a common sign of affection in most pups, but it could also mean your pup needs something. The most important thing is to watch for other behaviors so you can respond appropriately and remain consistent. If your pup shows you love in other ways like leaning on you, following you around, or licking your face, this is all a great sign that your pup loves and trusts you!