Stella the dog giving paw Stella the dog giving paw

Why Do Dogs Put Their Paws On You?

Read time: 4 mins

29 Sep 2023

Dogs have a unique way of communicating with us that often leaves us in awe of their intelligence and affection. 

One of the most endearing gestures our canine friends make is offering their paw. Whether it's a gentle tap on your leg or an enthusiastic paw-shake, it's a behaviour that tugs at our heartstrings.

Why Do Dogs Give You Their Paw?

But what's the underlying meaning behind this charming display of canine affection? Here’s a few possible reasons you dog may be pawing at you:

  • Trying to gain attention

  • Affection

  • Trust

  • Hoping to get a treat in return

Why Does My Dog Paw Me When I Stop Petting?

Picture this: you're sitting on the couch, showering your dog with love and affection, giving them all the pets and belly rubs they could ever dream of. Life is good, and your dog is in doggy heaven. 

But then, the moment comes when you decide to take a break and stop petting them. Suddenly, your furry friend extends a paw, gently tapping you, as if to say, "Don't stop, keep the love coming!"

This behaviour is rooted in your dog's desire for your attention and affection. When you stop petting them, they may interpret it as a loss of connection and the end of a bonding moment. To regain your attention, they instinctively reach out with their paw, hoping you'll resume the delightful scratches and strokes.

It's important to understand that dogs are social creatures that thrive on interaction with their human companions. When they paw you after you stop petting them, it's their way of expressing their need for continued affection and companionship. So, next time your dog extends that paw, consider it an invitation to keep the love flowing.

Why Do Dogs Give You Their Paw Without Asking?

The act of a dog offering their paw without any prompting is a heartwarming display of trust and connection. When your furry friend spontaneously places their paw in your hand, it's a sign of their deep affection and the strong bond you share. But why do dogs do this without being asked?

One reason is that dogs are incredibly perceptive when it comes to reading human body language. They can sense your mood, emotions, and even subtle cues that indicate you're in need of comfort or support. When your dog sees you looking sad, stressed, or in need of reassurance, they may offer their paw as a gesture of comfort and empathy.

Additionally, dogs are quick learners, and many have been trained to give their paw in response to specific cues or commands. For example, a well-trained dog might offer their paw when you hold out your hand and say, "shake." In this case, it's not just about affection; it's about responding to a learned behaviour.

In some cases, dogs may also offer their paw as a way to initiate playtime. It's their way of saying, "Let's have some fun together!" So, when your dog extends that paw, be ready for a dose of playfulness and bonding.

Why Do Dogs Paw At Your Face?

Now, let's explore a more specific scenario: why do dogs paw at your face? You might have experienced this when your dog playfully paws at your face during a cuddle session or when they're excited to see you. There are a few reasons behind this adorable behaviour.

First and foremost, dogs use their paws as a form of communication. When your dog gently paws at your face, they might be trying to get your attention or express their excitement and affection. It's their way of saying, "Hey, I'm here, and I love you!"

Pawing at your face can also be a sign of trust and vulnerability. By allowing you to touch their face and interact closely, your dog is showing that they feel safe and comfortable in your presence. It's a touching display of the bond you share.

In some cases, dogs may paw at your face during playtime. This is often accompanied by playful barks and wiggles, signalling their eagerness to engage in a fun game with you. It's their way of inviting you to join in the canine version of tag or chase.

However, it's essential to note that not all face-pawing is playful or affectionate. Sometimes, dogs may paw at your face if they're anxious, scared, or in pain. In such instances, it's crucial to assess the situation and consider whether your dog might be trying to communicate distress or discomfort.