Why Do Dogs Put Their Paws On You?

Having a dog has many surprising benefits—studies show that dog walking increases happiness (both for the dog and for its owner) and that dogs are eager to help their humans when they are in need. In addition, you build a loving relationship with your pet, which is perhaps the greatest benefit of owning one. We now have even more reason to believe this love is reciprocal.

Most dog owners have experienced their dog pawing at their legs at some point. This is your pup’s way of trying to communicate with you, so don’t brush it off as an annoyance. What is your dog trying to tell you? Context is everything. Ahead, an expert explains exactly what your dog may be trying to tell you.

They’re Showing Affection

Your dog may put his paw on you as a way of saying “I love you.” We pet our pups to show our affection. It turns out they do the same thing. As you stroke him, his paw extends contact and reciprocates affection, says Rebecca Forrest, a dog trainer at The Dog Clinic.

They’re hungry.

Another reason could also be your dog saying they’re hungry. The signs of hunger in your dog may include circling, barking at, or nudging their food bowl, staring at and following you, licking and chewing objects, increased alertness, or whining. If they do any of these in conjunction with pawing at you or trying to get your attention in other ways, your dog may just be hungry.

Forrest advises that if continual pawing is related to food, don’t respond. Forrest says that if you let your dog decide when to eat, they could become overweight, which could impact their health.

They’re Anxious

A dog pawing at you can be interpreted as an expression of love, but it can also be interpreted as a sign of anxiety. Forrest recommends paying attention to your dog’s body language as well. If you’re just cuddling up on the couch or rubbing his belly, chances are they’re just showing love back. In contrast, if your pup shows signs of anxiety, such as lip smacking, yawning, and flat ears, it could mean they feel insecure and are seeking affection. Perhaps your dog is just feeling stressed out and wants to be comforted. Take this as a sign to give Fido a little extra love when he is feeling this way.

They Need Something

Dogs may also want something else from you besides food. If your dog puts its paws on you, it could be telling you that they want to play, go potty, need water, or want a toy they cannot reach. You can determine what they are trying to tell you by observing their other actions. Are they asking to be let outside? Are they barking at a toy? Do they nudging their water or food bowls? Usually, you can tell what your pup is trying to tell you based on their behavior.