If your dog has been touching you with its paw a lot you might be wondering why and what you can do about it.
This post will show you a number of possible reasons why it might have been doing it and what you can do about it.
So, why does my dog touch me with its paw? Possible reasons why your dog touches you with its paw are that it wants attention, it wants you to give it something, it wants you to stop petting it, you might have been rewarding the behavior or it could be due to previous training.
There are actually a number of reasons why your dog might be doing it and it could be a combination of multiple reasons. However, there are also a number of things you can consider when trying to figure out the exact reason.
Why your dog touches you with its paw
Each of the different reasons why your dog touches you with its paw will likely come with a number of clues.
Below are a number of possible causes and what would make them more likely.
The reason why it does it might be that previous owners trained it to do it. This would be more likely if you adopted it from a shelter or you bought it from someone when it was no longer a puppy.
To get you to stop
The reason it does it might be because it wants you to stop doing something. This would be more likely if it does it when you are petting it and it shows signs of discomfort such as pulling away, not wagging its tail and being stiff.
It’s copying you
If it does it when you are petting it yourself, the reason why it does it could be that it is trying to mirror your own body language. Since you are being affectionate towards it by petting it your dog might be trying to show that it appreciates it by also petting you.
It wants you to give it something
Often dogs will touch their owners with their paws to let them know that they want something. It would be more likely your dog is doing it because it wants something if it hits you with its paw at a certain time such as when you are eating, when you would normally feed it or when you would normally walk it.
Rewarding the behavior
It could be the case that you have been encouraging it to do it by giving it things that it wants when it touches you with its paw. If you tend to give it things such as extra attention, toys or treats when it touches you then it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.
It wants you to rub its belly
It could also be the case that it does it because it wants you to rub its belly. This would be more likely if it does it when you are petting it and it tries to roll onto its back when it does it.
It wants to get you to pet it more
The reason why it does it could also be to show you that it wants you to carry on petting it. This would be more likely if it puts its paw on you when you stop. It would also be more likely if it shows positive signs when you are petting it such as wagging its tail, leaning into you and nudging its head onto your lap.
Things to consider
Below are some things you can consider when trying to figure out why your dog touches you with its paw.
When your dog first started touching you with its paw
It would help to consider if your dog has always touched you with its paw or if it has started doing it suddenly. If it has started doing it suddenly it could be the case that there was an event that caused it to start doing it.
If it did start doing it suddenly it could be due to things such as learning that it gets rewards when it does it or a sudden change in its daily schedule causing it to get you to do things for it at the same time that you normally would. It would help to consider what else changed when it started doing it.
Whereas, if it has always done it then it would be more likely that it has been doing it for one of the reasons mentioned above.
When your dog touches you with its paw most
It would also help to consider if there is a certain time that it tends to do it more. If there is then it would be more likely that the timing has something to do with it.
For example, if your dog touches you with its paw when you are eating then it would be very likely that it does it because it wants your food.
Consider the other body signs it is showing
It would also help to consider the other body language signs your dog shows when it puts its paw on you.
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 then it would be more likely that it wants you to stop.
How to get your dog to stop putting its paw on you
Below are some options you have when trying to get your dog to stop touching you with its paw.
Redirect its focus
One option would be to notice when your dog is about to put its paw on you and to redirect its focus onto something else such as a toy or sitting somewhere else. By doing so you should be able to get it out of the habit of putting its paw on you.
Avoid negative reinforcement training
Negative reinforcement training is where you give your dog rewards when it does things that you don’t want it to causing it to do it more. Instead of giving your dog things it wants when it puts its paw on you try to reward it when it does not do it and to redirect its focus when it looks like it is about to do it.
Anticipate when it is likely to do it
It would also help to anticipate when it is likely to put its paw on you.
For example, if it has not been let out to pee in a while then it would likely help to give it the opportunity to go outside to pee.