If your dog has been handing you her paw, this post will show you likely reasons why and what you can do about it.

So, why does my dog hand me her paw? Likely reasons why your dog hands you her paw are that she is showing you affection, asking for something from you such as food or exercise, or just trying to get attention from you.

There are actually a number of possible reasons why your dog will give you her paw. However, there are some things you can consider to help figure out the main cause and there are some things you can do about it.

Why does my dog hand me her paw?

Dogs can’t talk – at least not in a human way. But they sure can talk to you with their paws. And just as we have many messages to communicate in words, they have many messages to convey with paw pats. These messages can range from sweetness and love to attempts to dominate you. Paw initiated messages from your dog can include:

  • Giving affection
  • Requesting affection
  • Apologizing
  • Making a request
  • Showing understanding
  • Asking for playtime
  • Showing attitude
  • Displaying poor manners
  • Being submissive
  • Acting dominant
  • Feeling pain

Giving Affection

Although you probably don’t need research to know this, studies show that dogs feel love for their owners. Giving you her paw is one way your dog gives you affection and love.

Requesting Affection

When your dog needs some loving from you, she may hand you a paw or place it somewhere on your body. She may be asking you for any number of things including petting, rubbing, or cuddling.

Apologizing

You know it well – “the look” that says I’ve been a bad girl. Along with the look of guilt, your dog may also softly pat you with her paw.

Making a Request

Whether for water, food, treats or toys, your dog will sometimes hand you her paw to signal that she wants something. She is most likely to give you her paw around feeding time, when you’re most likely to figure out what she wants.

Showing Understanding

Dogs are truly amazing creatures. When you are happy, they are happy; when you are sad, they are sad. Dogs sense our emotions and at some level they want to make things better for their owner.  Your dog may hand you her paw when you are not quite up to your usual self. They also know when we’re sick. When you’re not feeling well, your dog may well snuggle up with you and place her paw gently on you.

Asking for Playtime

Another request your dog may make by handing you her paw is for playtime. She will probably try some other strategies first, like wagging her tail, barking, or jumping up and down – all in excitement. If none of these tactics work, enter the paw as her most serious plea!

Showing Attitude

Have you ever noticed that your dog can sometimes be manipulative? Here’s the scene – you are seriously disciplining her verbally for some transgression and suddenly she barks playfully and gives you her paw. Talk about ruining the moment – yours, not hers! After that, it’s hard to go back and recapture your moment.

Displaying Poor Manners

Just like humans, dogs can be rude, crude, and uncouth. Frequent pawing is usually a learned behavior, and when excessive, it is more than annoying. How dogs come to the behavior is by lots of previous pawing and getting what she wants as a result.

Being Submissive

When accompanied by other submissive signs such as belly up, lack of eye contact, and possibly urinating, handing you her paw is her way of saying you’re in charge.

Acting Dominant

On the other hand, a paw handed to you may be your dog’s way of saying she’s in charge. Like submission, this is usually accompanied by other behaviors including resource guarding, growling, and other ways of attempting to dominate you. This is something you need to get under control fast!

Feeling Pain

Sometimes a dog will hand you her paw if she is hurting, especially if the paw she hands you is the one that is sore.

Why does my dog hand me her paw when I am petting her?

When your dog hands you her paw when you are petting her, she is sending you the message that she loves you. At first, she may gently place her paw on you. Then, you’ll probably notice that she paws you more assertively and frequently when you stop. Guess what that means?

Why does my dog hand me her paw when I am eating?

As sweet as this may seem, your dog is simply begging. Dogs know there is good stuff on the table, and they want some. This is one of the reasons it is never a good idea to feed your dog scraps from the table. Once you get into the habit of doing so, you will have an annoying friend for life.

Do dogs like it when you hold their paw?

Whether or not your dog likes it when you hold her paw depends entirely on the context. Mostly, though, dogs don’t want their paws held for long because it makes them feel trapped and vulnerable.

Why does my dog grab my arms with her paws?

When a dog hugs your arms with both paws, it can mean most of the same things as when she hands you a single paw, but with more emphasis. It could also mean that your dog is scared, holds on so you won’t leave her, or wants to be carried. There is also the possibility that your dog is about to hump you, which is a sexual behavior and sign of dominance, and something not to be encouraged.

What to do about my dog giving me her paw?

At times, your dog giving you her paw is endearing, such as when she’s showing you love and concern. But in general, it’s not a good idea to allow your dog to give you her paw whenever she wants. The key is for her to do it when you want. If you allow it whenever she wants, the problem arises that she will also engage in other annoying behaviors which will make your training project even harder.

So how do you get control back? Simply put – don’t enable the behavior. Stop responding to her. Use the redirect method. If your pup scratches you with her paw when you get home from work, give her the sit command followed by positive reinforcement. It won’t take long before she gets how nice things are when she sits and waits patiently when you get home.

Author

I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.