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Why Do Dogs Put Their Paws on People?

Dogs use their paws in various ways, from tapping and patting to pushing and even hitting. But why do they put their paws on us? Let's explore the reasons behind this behavior and what it might mean.

Why Does My Dog Paw at Me?

Dogs paw at people as a form of communication. This instinctive behavior begins in puppies and continues as they grow. Pawing often results in pet parents paying attention to their dog, whether it's for food, affection, or something else. Here's a closer look at why dogs paw at people: Why Do Dogs Put Their Paws on People?

They Want Your Attention

Pawing is a common way for dogs to get attention. Known as "demand behavior," it's a method dogs use to communicate an unmet need. Even if you verbally correct your dog, if you end up giving them attention, they learn that pawing works. To manage this, observe what your dog does before pawing and address their need before the behavior starts. For example:

  • Does your dog stare at you first?

  • Do they look at a toy or circle their food bowl?

By recognizing these signs, you can teach your dog to sit and reward them for this behavior instead.

Why Do Dogs Put Their Paws on People? They Need To Go Out

A paw might indicate your dog needs to go outside. Look for pre-paw behaviors, such as pacing or heading towards the door. Encourage your dog to sit by the door and reward them by letting them outside. This teaches polite signaling and can replace pawing.

They're Hungry

Dogs often become restless before feeding time and may use their paw to signal hunger. You can train them to go to a designated spot, like a mat or bed, while you prepare their food. This helps them stay calm and wait patiently.

They're Showing Their Love

Pawing can be a sign of affection. When a dog places a paw on you, they might be expressing their love and seeking a positive reaction from you.

They're Nervous

Dogs also use their paws to communicate stress or anxiety. A paw lift without contact can indicate stress, while pressure or pushing with their paw might signal the need for space. If your dog shows signs of anxiety, remove them from the situation and give them time to acclimate.

What Should You Do When a Dog Paws at You?

If your dog paws at you, first assess the situation. Determine if it's for attention, a need, or due to stress. Address the underlying reason appropriately. If you're unsure, consult a professional for guidance.

How to Manage Pawing Behavior

  1. Keep Your Dog in a Fenced-In Area: Prevent them from chasing animals by using a secure, non-see-through fence.

  2. Use the Right Walking Gear: Walk your dog on a fixed-length leash with a collar or harness they can't slip out of.

  3. Introduce New Animals Carefully: Supervise interactions between your dog and new pets until you're confident there's no risk.

  4. Practice Training: Teach cues like "leave it" or use an "emergency" recall word to deter pawing.

  5. Allow Safe Prey Drive Behaviors: Engage your dog in activities that mimic prey drive, like nose work games or lure coursing.

Final Thoughts

Understanding why your dog paws at you can improve your communication and strengthen your bond. Whether they're seeking attention, need to go out, or are showing affection, addressing their needs thoughtfully ensures a happy and well-behaved pet. For more tips and resources, visit

Why Do Dogs Put Their Paws on People?
Why Do Dogs Put Their Paws on People?


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