You’re sitting at your computer when your furry friend comes up to you and places his paw on your arm. Well, that’s strange, you think. Why is he giving me his paw? Does he want me to hold it? Later that same day, your dog repeats the behavior. Now you’re confused! Searching for an explanation, you ask, why does my dog want me to hold his paw?
A dog wants you to hold its paw because he’s hungry, anxious, or wants a belly rub. They also hand you their paw to gain your attention. This behavior is often unintentionally reinforced by rewarding the pawing with affection.
In this article, we will discuss the different reasons why a dog wants you to hold his paw, if he enjoys it when you touch his paw, and whether you should be concerned about this peculiar behavior.
Reasons Your Dog Wants You To Hold His Paw
A dog holding its paw out to you is a common occurrence. However, there are several key reasons that you should look out for.
Your Dog Wants Attention
Like a human might tap you on the shoulder, a dog will put his paw on your body to get your attention.
Have you been ignoring your dog for an extended period? If you haven’t played, pet, or taken him on a walk recently, he’s feeling starved of attention. Putting his paw on you is his way of saying, “Hey! Notice me!”
A Previous Owner Trained Him to Do So
When you get a dog that had an owner before you, he will come with behaviors that you did not train him to do, which can include paw-holding.
If your dog offers you his paw when you make a specific gesture or say a particular word, it’s because his old owner trained him to do just that. You can reinforce the behavior with some treats and “Good boy!” s… someone else did all of the work to train an adorable trick!
You Reinforced The Behavior
Think about it: if your dog puts his paw on you and you play with him to make him stop, he’ll keep doing so because now he knows that it catches your notice!
Over time, you may have unintentionally taught your dog to nudge you with his paw when you’re ignoring him. Make sure that you’re spending enough time with your dog. Dogs are living creatures that need your love and attention!
He’s Telling You That He Loves You
A tender touch is a cross-species way of saying, “You are mine, and I am yours, and I love you for that.” Since dogs cannot speak any human language, they have to communicate their thoughts through other methods, including offering their paw or placing it on you.
If he doesn’t seem to want anything else, he’s just reminding you that he loves you very much.
Your Dog Is Anxious
If an unsteady gaze, hunched shoulders accompany your dog’s offering of paws and a tail tucked between his legs, then your dog is anxious and is looking to you for help.
Try soothing your dog by crouching down to his level, stroking him slowly, and speaking to him softly. Once he seems calm, try to determine the source of his stress. Is there a decoration in your house that resembles an aggressive animal?
Did he see his reflection in a low-hanging mirror? It is a worthwhile investment of time to investigate this question since you could improve your dog’s quality of life with only an hour or so of research.
Your Dog Is Hungry
If your dog feels hungry, he’ll try to get your attention by putting his paw on your arm. Do you feed your dog regularly every day, or do you rely on your dog to remind you?
Dogs love routine, so you should feed your dog 2-3 times at the same time every day, with equal proportions at each meal. Research your dog’s dietary needs; how many calories does he need every day?
What kind of nutrition? Which dog food brand serves your dog the best? Keeping your dog on a consistent diet will help stop his pawing, and your dog will be grateful for the consistency.
Do Dogs Like It When You Hold Their Paw
For the most part, dogs do like when you hold their paw.
Pay attention to your dog’s body language when you hold his paw: does he flinch away, or does he wag? Does he whine, or does he try to lick your face?
Many dogs have sensitive paws and do not like it when you hold or touch them. However, some dogs do enjoy a pat on the paw occasionally, so it is essential to consider your dog’s reaction to the touch.
What Does It Mean If Your Dog Lets You Hold Their Paw
If a dog lets you hold his paw, it means he loves you and trusts you to take care of his needs.
He knows that you are a good person who will help him feel happy, healthy, and safe. He may also put his paw on you as a sign of submission.
Why Does My Dog Give Me His Paw When I Pet Him
Your dog gives you his paw when you pet him because they are either expecting some reward in addition to the pats or are simply reciprocating your love.
If your dog had a previous owner, he is looking to earn a reward for trained behavior.
Whether you choose to continue this training is up to you. If you are the only owner your dog has ever had, he is mirroring your behavior. In a way, your dog is petting you back!
Why Do Dogs Like Their Paws Rubbed
While it is rare, a dog may grow to like his paws being rubbed when associated with the feeling of safety present in an incredibly loving and nurturing household.
Most dogs do not like their paws rubbed, so if yours does, it’s another thing on a long list of what makes your best friend special!
However, if your dog doesn’t like his paws rubbed, you shouldn’t train him to tolerate it–there’s a reason he doesn’t want you touching them. Despite their rough pads, dog paws are hypersensitive, and even a gentle touch can be uncomfortable or even painful.
Why Do Dogs Give You Their Paw Without Asking
Dogs give you their paw without asking when they are looking for attention. Your dog seeks attention for many reasons–he may be hungry, bored, or even anxious.
If he stops pawing at you after you give him a bowl of food, he was hungry. It would help if you fed your dog 2-3 times at the same time every day. Do some research to make sure you are feeding your dog an adequate amount of food.
If he stops after you play with him, he was bored. Do you give your dog enough attention? When owners are away from the house for long periods, dogs can be demanding upon your return home. Try to play with your dog for at least an hour every day, so he can get that attention he craves!
If your dog paws at you and displays signs of anxiety (flattened or pricked ears, a lowered tail, trembling, etc.), he was nervous. In this case, it is crucial to identify the cause of anxiety and eliminate it.
Try to figure out when/where your dog gets anxious. Is it somewhere specific in the house? At a specific time of day? Once you’ve determined what is causing your dog this extra stress, you can take steps to eliminate the problem in his life.
When your dog puts his paw on you, it is rarely because he wants you to hold his paw but because he wants you to pay attention to him. He might need food, a belly rub, a walk, or a calmer environment.
Although this behavior is charming, it can become annoying and even painful if your dog paws at you every time he needs something. If your dog paws at you daily, you should consider taking steps to train the behavior out of him.
How To Stop Your Dog’s Pawing
It is essential to realize that giving your dog attention is only a temporary fix. In the long run, it will worsen the problem since it teaches your dog that pawing is not only acceptable but good.
Knowing this, you should try to ignore your dog when he paws at you. If he continues to paw at you even as you refuse to pay attention to him, turn to him and say, “No!” sharply and clearly. Repeat this every time that your dog paws at you.
Set times of the day for feeding, walking and interacting with your dog. Your dog is more intelligent than you think–he’ll catch onto the new routine in a blink!
Over time, he will learn that you won’t walk him before eight A.M., that you can’t play with him until you’re done with work at four o’clock, that he doesn’t get dinner until six P.M, etc., etc.
Once you stop reinforcing the behavior and encourage a set routine, your dog’s pawing frequency will decrease.