If your dog has been putting its paw on you a lot, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you several possible causes and what you can do about them.
So, why does my dog put its paw on me? Possible reasons why your dog puts its paw on you are that it wants something from you, it is trying to alert you to something, it is feeling anxious or that it has learned that the behavior gets rewarded.
Since there are a number of possible causes, it would help to consider what would make each of them more likely. Once you have a good idea of the main reason, it should become a lot easier to get your dog to stop doing it.
Why your dog puts its paw on you
Below are a number of possible causes and what would make each of them more likely to be the main reason.
It wants something
The reason why it has been doing it might be because it wants something from you. It could be the case that it wants things such as to get a walk, to get fed or to go outside to pee. This would be more likely if it does it more at a certain time, such as when you would typically feed it, walk it or let it out to pee and if it stops doing it afterward.
Most dog breeds are meant to get daily exercise. It could be the case that your dog has been putting its paw on you due to being understimulated and wanting to get exercise. This would be more likely if it does it more at around the same time that you would normally give it exercise and if it stops doing it after getting exercise.
It would help to ensure that your dog is able to get the daily amount of recommended exercise for its age and breed.
Encouraging the behavior
The cause could also be that your dog has learned that the behavior gets rewarded. If you tend to give your dog things such as toys, treats or extra attention, when it puts its paw on you, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.
If you want your dog to stop doing it, it would help to reward it when it does not put its paw on you and to stop giving it rewards when your dog starts doing it.
It is trying to tell you something
The cause could also be that your dog is trying to alert you to something such as a noise it hears outside or something such as being in pain. This would be more likely if your dog starts doing it suddenly and if it does not usually put its paw on you.
It is feeling anxious
Another possible cause could be that it is feeling insecure. This would be more likely if it does it at times where it might be feeling insecure such as when there is thunder and lightning, sirens, or construction works.
It might also be the case that it has been doing it due to having some separation anxiety. Having separation anxiety would be more likely if it tends to do it more at around the same time that you usually leave home and if it starts showing other signs of being anxious.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider when figuring out the main reason why your dog has been putting its paw on you.
When your dog puts its paw on you
It would help to consider the timing of when your dog puts its paw on you since it might be the case that the timing has something to do with it.
For example, If it does it when you are petting it, the cause might be that it wants you to stop petting it or it might be mirroring your own behavior. I have written more about why your dog might put its paw on you while petting it here.
What else changed when it first started doing it
If your dog did not always put its paw on you, it would also help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it. If it started doing it suddenly, it could be due to things such as getting an injury, becoming anxious, learning that the behavior is rewarded, or a change in its daily routine.
What body language your dog shows
It would also help to consider the other body language signs your dog is showing when it does it.
If it is showing other signs of being happy such as leaning into you, wagging its tail, and having a relaxed posture, then it would be more likely to be doing it for a positive reason.
Whereas, if it shows signs of discomfort like pulling away, being stiff and not wagging its tail, it could be the case that it is doing it to tell you to stop doing something or because it is in pain.
What to do about your dog putting its paw on you
Below are some options you have when getting your dog to stop putting its paw on you.
Avoid encouraging it
As mentioned above, it might be the case that your dog has been putting its paw on you because it has learned that it gets rewarded. Instead, it would help to reward your dog when it is behaving the way you want and to stop giving it attention when it stops acting that way.
Redirect its focus
Another option would be to redirect your dog’s focus when it seems likely to start putting its paw on you. Ways to do so could include giving it a toy or giving it something that it is likely to need, such as to go out to pee if it has not been able to pee for a while.
Train it not to do it
Another option would be to use positive reinforcement training to get your dog to stop doing it. Positive reinforcement training involves encouraging your dog to behave the way you want by rewarding it when it shows signs of behaving that way.
To use positive reinforcement training to get it to stop giving you its paw, you would:
- Stop giving it attention when it puts its paw on you, leaving the room temporarily if necessary.
- After waiting for a few moments, start giving it attention and a treat if it doesn’t paw you when it usually would.
- If it does paw you, then stop giving it attention again.
- Repeat the above until it learns not to put its paw on you.
Give it things that it needs
It might be doing it because it wants something such as to be walked or fed. It would also help to ensure that your dog is able to get the things that it needs without having to wait too long, such as by feeding it on time in the mornings.