There’s no doubt that dog paws are amazing. Not only are they beyond adorable, but they are scientifically somewhat of a marvel.
Even though dog paws are covered in far less fur compared to their bodies, they still have impressive abilities to conserve heat. Researchers believe this is an evolutionary result of wolves (dogs’ ancestors) living and thriving in colder climates.
Dogs also sweat through their paws, allowing them to feel more comfortable in warmer climates. Their paws are like their own personal heating and cooling system.
We have the basics of what paws do, so let’s get to the crux of the matter: Why do our dogs like to put their paws on us?
Our dogs may not be able to tell us what the matter is, no matter how intently we stare into their puppy dog eyes. Luckily, with a few keen observations, we can figure out why our dogs do what they do.
Let’s discuss why your dog is putting their paw on you and what they might want you, their human, to do about it.
Is Your Dog Pawing Urgently?
The first step in understanding why your dog is touching you with his paw is to consider their method of doing so.
Is your dog pawing at you repeatedly and with a sense of urgency? Some noises could even accompany this action, such as a whine or a bark. On the other hand, your dog could also gingerly lay their paw on your body.
These two ways of touching you are likely to have separate meanings, so it’s essential to understand the difference. Appropriately, if your dog is pawing at you with urgency, it is likely because they need something tended to urgently.
This does not mean that your pet is in danger or discomfort. After all, what our dogs perceive as “urgent” might be somewhat different from what we consider especially pressing.
However, your pet could also be gently placing their paw on you. This is less likely to be an indication of some kind of need. Instead, this might just mean that your pet wants to be close to you.
We will cover what some of those “urgent” reasons could be later in this article, so keep reading.
Is Your Dog Trying To Get Your Attention?
Regrettably, science has not come far enough for us to be able to communicate verbally with our dogs fully (but maybe someday!). Our pets have to seek out other ways to talk to us.
Our dogs can, and often do, bark to tell us that they need something. Although all dogs are different and all barks can be different too.
Not only that, but certain family dogs are more inclined to bark than others. Some dogs are more or less likely to bark due to their breed, age, or temperament. In fact, there is even one dog breed that can’t bark; we’re talking about the infamous Basenji, who yodels instead of barking.
If your dog is not a barker, they might get your attention by whining, pawing at you, or simply following you everywhere you go.
There are multiple reasons that a dog could be trying to get your attention, so it can be helpful to run down the list of options.
Does Your Dog Paw at You Around Mealtime?
Many dogs are highly food motivated, meaning that food is perhaps their number one biggest incentive. If your dog loves nothing more than a high-value treat, which is your go-to reward for training, this might apply to your pet. Food-motivated dogs will be especially insistent around mealtime.
Dogs have a fantastically finely-tuned internal clock, largely due to their love of routine. Routines make our canine companions feel much more comfortable, safe, and secure.
It is best to give your dog breakfast and dinner at roughly the same times every day. Rest assured that if you accidentally forget, your food-motivated dog will be there to remind you not long after (or even before).
If your dog perceives that it has been upwards of five minutes past when they are usually fed, it is time to let you know. Your pet will likely engage in their preferred form of attention-seeking behavior. For some dogs, this will manifest as them approaching you and pawing at you.
This behavior certainly can be adorable, but it is less cute when your dog is waking you up for seemingly no reason. Consider your dog’s needs as well as their usual routine.
Are you forgetting about something that usually happens around this time? If so, this is your dog’s not-so-subtle way of trying to remind you.
Does Your Dog Need To Go to the Bathroom?
If your dog is pawing at you, whining, or any combination of the two, they might be telling you that it’s time for a bathroom break. Suddenly, the urgency of their pawing makes much more sense when you consider how they feel.
Think about the last time you took your dog outside to use the bathroom. If it’s been a few hours, they need to go again. If they are a puppy, they will need to use the restroom even more often. Puppies have different needs than adult dogs, including food types, potty schedules, and gentle toys that accommodate their baby teeth.
Similar to needing food, your dog could also wake you up with pawing because of this need. It’s an excellent practice to take your dog outside right after waking up and right before going to bed. This will keep your dog comfortable… and hopefully will require less unpleasant cleaning up on your end.
Is Your Dog Saying It’s Walk Time?
If you take your dog outside to use the bathroom, but they still seem antsy, it could be because they were hoping for a longer outdoor adventure.
Now is the time to grab their leash and collar so you can head out for a stimulating walk. The chances are that after you do so, your pet will be in a much calmer mood. Dogs need to go on walks for mental stimulation, mimicking their wolf ancestors’ long travels while hunting for food.
Your Dog Is Saying “I Love You!”
There are few feelings more impactful than that of your dog’s unconditional love. The moment you look into their sweet eyes, all of your hard work and care is returned tenfold.
This feeling of love only grows stronger when they approach you for a cuddle. It then reaches astronomical heights when your dog lightly places their paw on you.
When you and your dog are relaxing, then they suddenly put their paw on you; this is a means of seeking an even closer connection. Think about it: You love petting your dog. Why wouldn’t they want to pet you back?
It Is Playtime!
If your dog hasn’t gotten enough quality playtime today, they might be looking to engage in any number of play styles.
Your Dog Is in Need of Some Mentally Stimulation
Dogs thrive when given enough mental stimulation. Our pets need to engage in their natural instincts (like chewing, playing, running, and herding), and play is one of the best ways for them to do so.
Depending on your dog’s play style, an interactive toy might be just the ticket:
Toys like the Ballistic Hide n’ Treat let your dog actively find treats as delicious as it is rewarding. Engaging your dog mentally also has incredible abilities to make them feel better and more fulfilled.
Offer a Snuggly Toy To Cuddle With
Between work, social lives, sleep, and other obligations, we can’t always be around to snuggle our dogs. This is somewhat disappointing news, as many pet parents would love nothing more than to hang out with their dogs all day. However, your pet might still want a cuddly companion while you are not around.
If you think your dog would feel more at ease with a snuggly toy to bring to bed with them, know that you have an abundance of excellent options. The adorable Comfort HedgeHug will soothe your dog while also providing copious photo opportunities for pet parents.
The KONG Club Monthly Subscription
For a greater focus on helping your dog thrive, the KONG Club Monthly Subscription has the answers. Signing up for KONG Club will give you access to a community of trained veterinary professionals who are available 24/7 to answer your questions.
If you still have questions about why your dog is pawing you or other behaviors like nipping when excited, you can call up an animal behaviorist 24/7 as a KONG Club member.
A Moment’s Paws
Determining the context of a situation is crucial to figuring out why your dog is pawing at you. Consider their needs, and make sure that they are fully taken care of. When is the last time that they used the bathroom, were fed, and have they had enough exercise today?
If all of their needs have been met, your dog could either be bored or trying to connect with you. In the case of boredom, you can offer them any number of excellent KONG toys to help them feel more mentally stimulated.
If your dog is simply reaching out to touch you, revel in the love that they’re showing. Dogs are man’s best friends, but they are also our family.