Animal Behaviors and why dogs put their paws on you

Along with barking at you, pawing at you is among the most common ways your dog might try to communicate with you. Most dog owners have likely experienced their dog pawing at their legs. While you may think this could be annoying at times, it’s your dog’s way of trying to communicate with you.

If your dog puts his paw on you, it can be his way of saying I love you. We pet our dogs to show our love and affection. Turns out they do the same. By putting his paw on you whilst you are petting him, he is expanding contact and reciprocating affection back to you. While this act can be interpreted as an expression of love, your dog pawing at you can also be credited to numerous other feelings. He wants to play, he wants food, he’s anxious, or may be in pain. While most cases it is a positive reinforcement for your dog, sometimes it can be a small cry for help. It is essential to look out the other areas your dog is showing in their body language. Make sure to check vitals and in detect any noticeable changes in your pets’ behavior.

Your dog could be insecure and seeking your attention, a sign that you should show him a little extra love. It could also be that your dog is trying to communicate that he’s hungry. How do you tell what your dog is really trying to say? It all depends on perspective.

You should look at the rest of your dog’s body language. If you’re just cozied up on the couch or rubbing your pup’s tummy, chances are he’s just showing love in return. In some cases, if your pup is showing signs of anxiety, such as lip smacking, yawning, and flat ears, it could mean he’s feeling insecure and is looking for affection.


When you are petting your dog, and he puts his paw on your arm or leg, it is kind of like petting you back. While most dogs can’t do an actual stroking action, laying their paw on you is a sign of affection, closeness and trust This is his way of creating a special bond with you. It can also signal I like that, don’t stop, especially if you’ve been petting him for several minutes, and you stop, and he reaches for your hand, he’s telling you more, please!

Some examples of their body language signals are, pricked ears, wagging or upright tail, attentive gaze, and a relaxed mouth. This means they want to engage with you and   most likely play! They are excited and want to engage in some sort of activity like playing with their chew toys, chasing their ball, or even going for a walk.

Pricked ears, low tail, shifting gaze, tight mouth and panting can be a form of anxious behavior or a sign your dog may be in some sort of pain, especially relating to their paw. If you see any other forms of unusual behavior or signs your pup is in discomfort, consult your veterinarian right away.

Relaxed ears and mouth, low wagging tail, and a soft gaze is most likely a tell-tale sign of a pup wanting your affection and love. Giving your attention to your pup will solidify your bond and create trust, and of course it’s the sweetest thing ever. I’m not crying, you’re crying!




  1. Madison Finley

    My dog puts his paws on me when he asks for help or if he’s hungry. Learning the body language of dogs is fascinating. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thabo

      My doggie has the bad habit of jumping on top of the table to search for food and grabs if she finds something to eat. She is clever because she will do that once she realizes that there us no one around. How can I train her to stop this bad habit..?

  2. Leo

    My dog just punches everyting

  3. Lynn Williams

    My 3 month old puppy is constantly peeing. 2 or 3 times outside then comes right inside and goes on my floor. Almost on his pad but still in the floor . Her favorite time is instantly after I mop. Puppy pads are dry, and my floor is wet!!!! Please help!

    • Nicole

      This is very typical behavior from puppies. My puppy did not fully understand house training until he was 8 months old. My vet told me not to expect him to “get it” until I had been training him consistently for a solid 6 months. She was right. One day, he just got it. Don’t get frustrated, this is all just part of the learning process for dogs. To prevent accidents take them out very frequently and always reward after they go outside. It takes a long time to house train a dog but once they finally understand, they will never go in the house.

    • Lynnette Fleet

      When I pay my dog she puts her paw over top of my arm. Sometimes she will put both on my arm and grip tight. I don’t overly mind her doing it but she hurts me. I really don’t think she means to but her claws dig in and it almost always hurts me. She’s had her claws cut but it still hurts and dents my skin or can break it slightly. Sometimes I’ll pat her and she climbs on my lap sometimes she will stand and try to get up a bit higher. I feel some of this is she is trying to dominate me but is also saying I love u2 please don’t stop. She does listen to me sometimes but not always. She can be a really sweet girl just hurts me with her claws and I don’t know how to get her to be gentle.

      • Terri

        Ditto. Same here. She always needs to be the center of attention. With Fibromyalgia, and autoimmune disorders I am not as strong as I once was. I find myself walking a lot more since getting her but also find I lose much needed rest to restore my energy.

    • T

      Consistency is key…bring your pup out every 20 minutes or so to the exact same spot on the lawn. Go crazy happy each time it goes in that spot. You could also try keeping it on a leash in the house hooked to your waist till it gets the hang of it.

  4. Anne

    I just love learning communication with my dogs, one of my greatest joys is when they react to something I’ve said and I know we’ve connected. They are always using their paws to say ‘more stroking’ or I believe in lieu of being able to stroke me back, it’s adorable.

  5. gretchen

    my dog does the paw thing every time she sits down in front of you and sometimes breaks the skin. I know this is a sign of love but It hurts when she cuts me. We have tried every thing t get her to stop thiis but nothing is working. Anyone out there got any suggestions

    • Tray

      Gretchen they have dog nail caps now. Try those.

  6. Kristine

    Genuinely made me laugh out loud! My dog is a puncher too hahahah

  7. Terri

    I was curious of this too, hence the reason I searched the behavior out. Her timing is terrible to be relaying a message of love. I either just sitting down to relax with something to eat, catching up on emails, or chilling to Netflix. I feel like it’s a jealous issue. All after she’s been fed, walked and loved. I need my ‘me time’ without being pawed and clawed to death.

  8. Sonia

    My Havanese is 4yo and has a bowel movement alot of times off the wee wee pad. What can I do to get him to do it on the clean wee wee pad?

  9. David Wright

    My Manchester Terrier is 7 years old. He absolutely loves attention and when he feels he isn’t getting enough, he will constantly paw at me and sometimes he breaks the skin on my arm, then he gives me a truckload of kisses to apologize for doing it. He is so affectionate and he’s not afraid to show it. He knows that he will get attention from me when he starts pawing me, he starts off easy and gets harder when I don’t respond right away. Dobie has done this since he was a puppy and no matter how much I argue with him to make him go easy he doesn’t understand that he is hurting me. He always wins and he always gets his lubbins. Wouldn’t change a thing about it. One day all I’m gonna have to remind me of his unconditional love are the scars on my arm.

    • Melissa Jaques

      Yes, I have a pupper like this too and wouldn’t change a thing!! They are the most precious friends and I will always appreciate his love and need for affection 🥰

  10. Rhonda L Sandberg

    My dog is 31/2 years old and is (or was) potty trained. Now, every day, he pees on the dining room floor and I never see him doing it. He knows better and I take him out many times during the day and night. He lifts his leg on everything, even the dining room chairs. What to do??

    • Redbone coonhound owned

      He’s anxious or worried about something. Has a new person or animal joined the household? Has a new device that may hum or irritate him been added to the house? Has he had new requirements placed on him by a change in environment or training? He’s basically alerting the world that this is his space, his family, his home, and that if anyone has an issue with that, they’ll have to go through him.

    • Redbone coonhound owned

      Reassure him and make him comfortable. Try to figure out what has exchanged and why he is worried. Help him feel secure again and it should stop.


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