Why Does My Dog Put His Paw on Me?

You talk with your hands. Why shouldn't your dog?

To say we’re fascinated by our dogs is an understatement. Truth is, we’re kind of obsessed. It’s as if every little thing those lovable tail-wagging creatures do, from gazing at us lovingly to sighing dramatically, from licking our faces to licking our feet, is imbued with a sense of mystery and magic.

In its most basic form, “pawing” is a form of communication, explains Gerardo Perez-Camargo, DVM, Vice President of Research and Development at Freshpet.

Pawing is a form of communication

Many dogs are inclined to “speak” with their “hands,” observes Sarah Wooten, DVM, vet expert at Pumpkin Pet Insurance. The reason, according to Lehew, is that we’ve taught them to do so.

Dogs, like humans, speak with their hands

When you get the “paw” while you’re already petting, tickling, or otherwise lavishing physical attention on your dog, you probably won’t even have to ask, “Why is my dog putting his paw on me?”

The “keep petting me” paw

Similarly, a dog may place a paw on you if you were giving him physical affection but stopped, Dr. Wooten notes. It tends to happen very quickly: As soon as you start to withdraw your hand, he’ll reach out and paw you.

The “why’d you stop” paw

“Good or bad, dogs feel our energy, and they care about how we feel,” Dr. Wooten tells Reader’s Digest. “When we are feeling sad or down, our dogs can easily pick up on that.”

The “it’s gonna be OK” paw

“Touching you with a paw is one way dogs can communicate love,” according to Texas-based veterinarian Sara Ochoa, DVM, who consults for DogLab.

The “I love you” paw

Dogs associate giving us their paws with getting rewards from us. But not all rewards come in the form of praise, affection, or food.

The “not feeling so good” paw

Dogs associate giving us their paws with getting rewards from us. But not all rewards come in the form of praise, affection, or food.

The anxious paw

Most of the time, when your dog offers his paw, the gesture is brief. Sometimes, however, he doesn’t just tap you with his paw but actually leaves it on you. Sometimes, it’s almost as if he appears to be gripping you.

The long “pawse”