Does Your Dog Put His Paw On You? Here is Why:

Does your dog keep pawing at you?

Does he paw you when you pet him?

Does he make any sound or wag his tail along with the pawing?

This can mean a lot of things.

If you want to learn about why your dog paws at you then keep reading!

In this article you will learn:

  • Why your dog puts his paws on you
  • What it means when he paws you
  • How to understand more of his body signals

And more…

Read on!

Why Does My Dog Put His Paws on Me?

Dogs use their paws to communicate just like humans use their hands.

If they could speak, they wouldn’t use their paws as much, but they can’t, so they use their paws to communicate things.

Your dog’s pawing behavior means he’s trying to tell you a few things.

Here are a few of them:

  • He wants to play
  • He wants you to pet him
  • He likes what you’re doing
  • He wants to comfort you or is trying to apologize
  • He’s showing empathy
  • He needs your assistance
  • He is curious about something

See? Just because your dog paws at you doesn’t mean he’s trying to be dominant like some old-fashioned trainers say. Pawing is very common in the canine world.

If you watch two dogs play, you will see that they use their paws a lot, it can be a way to initiate play.

What Does it Mean when Your Dog Puts His Paw on You?

Let’s get into more detail on the different things your dog can tell you with his paws.

Why does my dog put his paw on me

He Wants to Play

Dogs use their paws to initiate play. But they also use their paws in other situations.

So, how do you know he wants to play with you?

Pay attention to his other body signals.

If he wants to play with you he’ll show other excitement body signals such as tail wagging, panting and a relaxed “smiling face”.

He Wants You to Pet Him

If you are petting your dog and the moment you stop he paws you, he wants you to keep petting. It means he likes that.

He Wants to Comfort You

Dogs are great at reading human emotions, they notice when we are happy, sad or angry at someone. (source)

Dogs may use their paw in a similar way we humans use our hands to show support for someone or to comfort them.

Let’s say you have scolded your dog and after a while, he comes to you and puts his paw on you, this is an attempt to ask for an apology, he’s trying to show empathy. (source)

He Needs Your Help

If your dog keeps pawing you, and this is usually accompanied by some vocal sounds, he probably wants something from you.

Be aware if he keeps going back and forth to you and to his dog leash or water bowl.

He might want to go potty, or he’s trying to tell you there’s no water in his bowl and he’s thirsty.

He Is Curious

Dogs also use their paws to show curiosity.

If you have something in your hand like a treat or a toy and your dogs keeps pawing it, he wants to know what that thing is.

When a dog’s pawing behavior is a sign of curiosity, this will also be accompanied by some sniffing.

It doesn’t matter what your dog is trying to communicate, just keep in mind that this is a normal behavior.

Therefore, it’s important that you keep your dog’s paw clean and always keep his nails trimmed, especially if you have young children around. This will prevent you from getting hurt.

Tips For Grooming Your Dog’s Paws

1. Check his paws weekly.

Decide on a day of the week for you to check out his paws. Check for any small cuts, torn and overgrown nails, and small objects that may have lodged between his pads.

One good tip is to clip his nails after a bath. After a bath, his nails will be softer.

2. With the help of another person

Put him on a table or you can sit on the floor with him on your lap.

3. Using Vitamin E

You can use vitamin E or Paw wax. If using vitamin E you can cut a hole in the middle of the capsule and try to get as much oil as possible. Then, massage the oil on your dog’s paws; this will make them softer and easier to trim.

The paw wax will protect your dog’s paw in the winter, and from the hot pavement in the summer.

4. Trim around the paw

When the fur becomes matted it can hide objects such as stones and leaves.

Remove the fur with scissors designed for dogs and do it in small snippets rather than in large chunks.

How Do I Know My Dog’s Nails Need to Be Clipped?

If your dog makes a “click-click” sound when walking on an uncarpeted area, then it’s definitely time to clip them. Clip his nails so that when he steps down they don’t touch the ground.

Some dogs are naturally calm when you try to clip their nails, others will try to get away at all costs and can even snap at you.

Ideally, you should get your dog used to you touching and handling his paws from an early age.

But if you have an adult dog, don’t lose hope.

You can still train him although it might take a longer time.

Follow the instructions below and clipping his nails will no longer be a stressful time.

How To Train Your Dog to Get His Nails Clipped?

1. Build Positive Association

We’re going to build a positive association with his paws being handled.

Start by taking your dog to a quiet room and gently touch his paw for just one second. Immediately follow up with a treat.

Do this 5 times and try increasing the time you touch his paws. 3 seconds … 5 seconds … 10 seconds , until you can handle his paws and he won’t bother.

Always praise him and give him treats.

Why does your dog put his paw on you

Once you’ve done the previous step. Start by just clipping the very tiny tip of his nails. Maybe even just touch the trimmer at first, and give him a treat.

You can trim one nail, and let him go for a play session, then trim another nail about 2 to 3 hours later, maybe after dinner or maybe tomorrow morning.

If you have patience and follow these tips every week. Pretty soon you’ll have no hard time grooming his paws and trimming his nails. And you will be able to give him treats only periodically.

2. Start Over With a Clean Slate

If your dog has any negative associations with his previous nail clipper, then it’s going to have to retire.

Buy a new pair of clippers and start building positive associations with it.

Show the new clippers for the first time to your dog and make a party. Give him lots of his favorite treats, have a quick game of tug, etc.

Then, put away the clippers and immediately stop all the party. This will make your dog think: – Every time I’m close to that thing good things happen!

Do this several times.

3. Introduce Different Objects

Once he is comfortable with you touching his paws, it’s time to get him used to have different objects touching his paws.

With one hand hold his paw and with the other hand choose any random object, it can be an eraser, a pen, or a spoon and touch the different objects on his paw.

This will get him used to have objects touching his paw. Do the same process, this time with the nail clippers.

4. Get Him Used to The Sound

Take your dog into a quiet room. Get a little close to your dog and make the sound of the clipper. Immediately give him his favorite treat.

Get closer and closer to your dog and always praise him and reward his calm behavior every time he hears the sound of the clipper.

You are now ready to start clipping his nails.

5. Start Clipping

Start by clipping just the very tip of the nail, then stop. The next time clip the tip of the next nail and so on. This will slowly have your dog used to having his nails clipped. Remember, patience is key here.

Next time he needs to get his nails trimmed again, you can try to get them all clipped all at once.

Don’t forget the dew claws. They are on the inner side of the legs 1-4″ above the feet and they can grow so long that they curl up and grow up into the soft tissue. (source)

Important – Don’t trim too short, dogs have something called a quick in his nails and if you hit it will cause pain and possibly bleeding.

Always have some styptic powder nearby in case if you accidentally cut the quick.

Isn’t My Dog Being Dominant?

Usually, if your dog is just pawing at you like in the previous examples, it’s just a sign he’s trying to communicate something and it has nothing to do with being dominant. But, if this behavior is followed by other actions such as putting his paws on your shoulder, jumping on you and growling at you, this can mean he thinks he is in charge.

If this is the case contact a professional dog trainer.

Give preference to trainers who use rewards-based, positive reinforcement methods such as Pat Miller, Andrea Arden and Victoria Stillwell.

How to Stop My Dog’s Pawing Behavior?

Many owners don’t like when their dogs paw at them and you might be one of them. If so, here are a few things you can do to change this behavior:

Don’t Reward Him

When a dog scratches or paws at you it means he wants to get your attention and if he gets it, this behavior will only increase and get stronger. So start discouraging pawing.

Every time your dog paws at you, look away, don’t make eye contact, leave the room, cross your arms and turn your back.

Do this until he gets his four paws on the floor. When he does it , give him your full attention.

If He Touches Your Skin, the Play Ends

When playing with your pooch, every time his paws touch your skin you can stop the play immediately , maybe for about 10 to 30 seconds.

This will teach him that humans don’t like pawing and scratching and if they do it the play is over.

As long as his paws are off your skin you can keep the fun going.


Lack of exercise is a common cause of hyperactivity in many dogs. This hyperactivity can manifest in many ways, including pawing.

The amount of exercise your dog needs will depend on his age, size and physical limitations.

However, for most dogs about three activities that will leave him panting from the exercise and not from the heat is ideal.

So, try giving your dog activities that are physically stimulating.

My dog paws at me


Pawing is a normal behavior for dogs and they do this to communicate with both humans and their canine friends.

A dog pawing at you is not a sign of dominance and more often than not he wants your undivided attention. When you give him what he wants this behavior is reinforced.

It’s important that you keep your best friend’s paws clean and his nail trimmed so that when you have guests over he won’t hurt them or hurt you.

In what types of situations does your dog paw you?

Do you find this a cute behavior or do you think it’s annoying?

Tell us in the comments, and don’t forget to share this post with friends on social media.

Thanks for reading!

5 thoughts on “Does Your Dog Put His Paw On You? Here is Why:”

  1. Thank U For helping me understand my Precious Best Friend Even Better. She is so patient , caring & loving. I watched her be born, & she’s Now 2.5yrs Old & I Take Her With me EveryWhere !!! She’s had some “issues” but I Educated Myself & So Together we’ve worked thru them.

    • Indeed, dogs are friends that never judge us for who we are and they will always be by our side no matter what. Thanks for the comment. 🙂

    • My 8 year Golden Retriver is constantly putting his paw on my hand arm knee. I can’t even use the bathroom without him following me in there and putting his paw on my knee. I always felt this was just his way of saying I’m here fir you. I had breast cancer and ever since I literally can’t leave a room without him raising his head to make sure I’m within eye shot. I’m sure he’s probably saying hey dumb human I want something can’t you figure out what it is. Thanks for the information it was very helpful. Maybe know I can read him a little better

  2. Thank you Josh for the article. I had a good idea as to why my Lab/Pit mix, Apollo puts his paw on my hand. It has now been confirmed, after reading this article. I also picked up a few good tips on trimming his nails. 🐾 I’ve always handled his paws, since I got him at 4 months old (so he wouldn’t mind having his paws touched, or nails trimmed), but have yet to trim them by myself… as he likes to move around too much (so, I’ve been taking him to have them trimmed). But with patients, “more treats” and a more little time, I will master this quest! 😉Thanks again Josh! It was an enjoyable article. 👍

  3. So my dogo does this thing where when I’ petting him he likes to grab my arm with his paw and if I try to pull away he drags my arm back (not in an aggressive way) he usually does this so he can lick my hand but sometimes its for different reasons thoughts?


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