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Why Is My Dog Pawing At Me Constantly? What Does It Mean?

Is your dog constantly pawing at you? Pawing can mean a variety of things, from seeking attention to dominance. Read on to find out why your pup may be slipping you the paw!


Last Updated: November 30, 2022 | 9 min read

Dog pawing at owner with paw in hand with water in background

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Our dogs love us, and because of this, they want our constant attention. Our pups can’t say, “Hey, look over here!” so instead, they get our attention in the only way they know how. Pawing and poking us when they are trying to communicate is their easiest option, but what are they trying to tell us?

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Dogs can’t communicate like humans can. They will sometimes growl, bark, or yip to get your attention.  Most times they do this, there’s a reason behind it.  They can also get physical, and that means putting their paws on you or even engaging in other unsavory behaviors like biting or jumping. While you can train your dog to use their paw on-demand with the shake command, the type of pawing we will dive into is pawing without a request from you as their master.

Most pups mean well when using their paws, but you may not fully understand why your dog does it. Let’s discuss the 10 most common reasons that your dog wants your attention, and how to stop them from scratching you for their every need.

Ten Reasons Dogs Like To Paw

Dogs have a variety of reasons they like to paw.  Some owners think this behavior is rude and disruptive, while other owners will tolerate it.  It’s often viewed as more tolerable if the dog is smaller because pawing from a small dog isn’t likely to cause any problems.

Pawing from an extremely large dog can knock kids over, cause scratches or injuries, and have other ill effects.  Dogs paw for dominance, affection, and many other reasons.  Let’s dig in a little deeper and find out why your pup loves to put their paws on you.

It’s Their Communication Base

Dog Pawing at Me
Your pup may be pawing at you for the sole reason of communicating with you.

Every creature has their own way of communicating. By having our own language, we are able to spread the word on what we need, and get through our day-to-day lives. But what do you do when you are trying to communicate with a completely different species, that doesn’t speak your language?

Think of it as trying to have a conversation with a person from another country, who does not speak English. There will probably be a lot of hand gestures, and a game of charades in order to spread your message. When our pups are trying to get our immediate attention, they resort to their very own “hand gestures”, and throw their paw our way. They may also tilt their heads, and exhibit other behaviors.

Our pups pawing us is truly no different than a toddler tugging on your leg when they are trying to tell us something. When our dogs paw at us, they are simply communicating in one of the ways that they know how, pushy as it may be at times.

Our furry friends have lived alongside us for many years now, and have seen how often we use our hands to communicate. It’s no wonder that they have become more paw-centric in their communications.

They Want Instant Love

Dog Wanting Affection From Owner
Your dog may be signaling they want instant love from their owner.

If you are spending quality time with your fur child, they may paw you as a way to persuade you into giving them extra love. Have you ever been petting your pup, and they throw their paw your way once you’ve stopped? This action is a way of getting your attention in an effort to continue an action that they like. We often find it sweet when our doggy friends come up to us asking for our love and affection. By giving in to this action so often, they know to repeat this habit each time they want your immediate attention.

Studies have also shown that dogs have “feel good” hormones that are released during petting sessions, so it’s very possible that by extending out their paw, they are showing you their affection right back. Overall, this is one of the most endearing times that our dogs use their paws to communicate.

They Did Something Bad

Guilty Dog with Owner
A guilty pup may slip their owner the paw after doing something bad.

While this pawing behavior can be quite demanding, it can also be your pup’s way of apologizing for something they have done. A guilty dog may throw his paw on you while wearing a very guilty face. Pawing you can be their way of asking for forgiveness, and showing their submission to you at that moment.

Part of why they may do this is how well this action may have worked for them with you in the past. Think back to a time when your companion did something they shouldn’t have done. Their sad eyes and need for forgiveness is often cute enough that we quickly forgive them, and move on from any scolding. Our pups have become quite skilled in the art of forgiveness with their ability to produce those sad, puppy dog eyes. Either way, this is definitely one of the times that their pawing can be quite difficult to not give in to.

They Need Food Or Water

Jack Russell Pawing Owner
If your pup is hungry or thirsty, they may paw you to let you know.

When it’s getting close to mealtime, your doggo may feel the need to remind you of their hunger, especially if it seems like you have no idea just how close it is to their dinner time! When they are not able to use their words to tell us just how hungry they are, they have to get creative with their communication and hope that you understand. A hungry pup may paw at your legs when they are ready to eat, along with a possible nudge of their food bowl.

While this dinner-time reminder can seem harmless, try your best to not create a food-demanding monster. Some dogs have perfected the art of begging for treats by using pawing and scratching for communication. If your pup uses demanding tactics when they are craving their favorite treat, it may be time to consider a new routine for snack time.

They Empathize With You

Empathizing Dog With Owner
If your canine companion sees you sad, they may try to console and empathize with you.

Our dogs are incredibly empathetic creatures. By living with us, they become in tune with our normal habits and emotions. Even the slightest change in attitude can have our pups sensing that something is a bit off.

When a furry friend paws at us in a time that we are feeling stressed, upset, or angry, it may be their way of showing us that they are here for us in our time of need. Our dogs love us and show their support in many ways that we may not even notice. Think of their paw as their very own way of extending out a hug.

They Want To Play

Dog wanting to Play
Sometimes your pup may want to play, and paw you to grab your attention.

A playful dog who wants to initiate a game will often try several tactics to get you to interact. They may wag their tail, jump up and down in excitement, or even paw at your leg in an attempt to get your attention. While this is considered a pushy way to engage in playtime, it’s often successful.

If our pups come up to us, with toy in hand, pawing at our leg, how likely are we to engage? Our fur babies know this is a successful way to play with us and get our attention.

They Are Talking Back

Pug with Attitude
Sometimes your pup may be talking back to you and giving you attitude.

Just like humans, some dogs have a bit more attitude than others. While some dogs will cower and turn away from any kind of punishment, some pups will challenge the authority being thrown their way! By throwing their paw at our legs in times of punishment, some pups aren’t asking for forgiveness. When paw throwing is associated with a playful bark, these furry friends are showing their very own version of sass!

Think of this as an angsty teenager who is talking back to their parents. Our pets love us, but sometimes, they can offer an attitude when being scolded.

Talking With Their Paws

Border Collie giving owner high five
Some breeds just like to talk using their paws.

Just like humans, some dogs use more body language than others when they are communicating. The figure of speech explaining when someone “speaks with their hands”, goes for our pups as well.

This may just be their own unique way of communicating or the behavior of a pup who is used to getting a reaction each time they use their paws to communicate. Frequent pawing can be a sign of a pup who is lacking manners.

You’re The Boss

Submissive Dog with Owner
Submissive pups may use pawing as a signal to let you know you’re in charge.

Similar to dogs using their paws when they did something wrong, is the possibility that they are pawing at us as a sign of submission. When accompanied by other submissive behaviors, a dog may be showing you that he knows you are the boss, and that he respects you.

They’re The Boss

Dominant Labrador with Owner
More dominant dogs may use it as a signal to let you know they’re in charge.

Just as possible as it is for a pup to paw you as a sign of submission, is the possibility of the complete opposite. In communication between dogs, a dominant dog will often put his paw on the weaker dog as a sign of being above them. When our furry family member puts their paw on us, it may be their way of asserting their dominance.

This is often accompanied by other acts of dominance such as resisting commands, guarding food or toys, or inappropriate responses to authority or eye contact. If this is the case, it’s important to discourage this behavior, as you should always be the alpha in your “pack.”

Should You Allow It?

Owner with Mixed Breed Dog
Only you can decide if your pup’s behavior needs correcting.

While the occasional paw during petting sessions or sweet moments with your pup can be endearing, it can quickly become an annoying habit. When our dogs are used to getting what they want each time they paw at our legs, they will continue to use this tactic whenever possible.

In most cases, when our companions are using their paws for communication, they are demanding our immediate attention at that moment. Allowing your pet to continue this behavior is only opening the door for other behaviors that lack manners.

While we love our pets dearly, it’s important to instill a relationship that is respectful on both ends. You wouldn’t tolerate a friend who constantly tugged at your arm each time they needed something, right? The relationship with our doggy companions should be no different. While our pets play a role in this pushy action, we also have to consider if it’s appropriate to let this pattern continue.

Don’t Enable

Dog Communicating with Owner
The best way to stop the behavior is to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Putting an end to this behavior can be tough since we don’t realize just how often we reward this type of behavior. Think of each time you walk in the door after a long day of work, and are greeted by your excited pup. It warms our hearts to have our pets so excited to see us at the end of the day, that we allow the playful jumping and pawing at your legs as we are setting our things down in an effort to deliver the immediate love they are asking for.

Each time we allow this form of communication which is essentially asking for our immediate attention, we are blurring the lines of when these manners are acceptable. Every time we give in to pawing in any form, we are showing them that this behavior works, so why wouldn’t our dogs want to try it at other times?

A habit like this usually starts small and grows with time. What starts off as a gentle nudge under the table for a bite of your dinner, can quickly turn into rough scratching at your leg each time you sit down to eat. Taking away your response to this action is essential to stopping this behavior if it’s becoming overwhelming and something that may bother guests or family in your home.

Stopping The Paw

Dog Training with owner
There are several ways to stop the behavior once it starts.

It’s up to us to stop giving in to the behavior when it does happen. Start by teaching your dog a new way to gain positive attention. When your pup tries to scratch your leg, immediately correct this behavior, and encourage them to sit instead. By being consistent with this training your doggo will learn that they no longer get what they want with pushy behaviors, but instead, have a positive reaction when they sit politely and wait for your attention.

Each time try to delay the response in which you offer the attention that they are looking for. By extending the time that your pup has to wait for your response, he will eventually learn that we do not offer our attention on their time.

The most difficult part of this process is sticking to the training, as our pups can be quite convincing when they want to be! Just remember that a well-behaved pup is a joy, and will result in a much happier home for everyone.

If at-home training fails to end this habit, basic obedience training can be a great way to teach your furry companion some manners. Basic training can only improve your pup’s quality of life, as structure and confidence are often gained from these courses.

You could also try an online dog trainer like Doggy Dan for an affordable solution that fits your schedule. 

Final Thoughts

Overall, there are several reasons why a dog is trying to communicate with the use of their paws. While some of these reasons are tender by nature, there are always better forms of communication that our pups can practice to gain our attention.

Get to know your beloved companion’s quirks, and help them to practice better manners to achieve the attention that they seek!

Dog Licking Paws

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  1. We will never try to train away this communication effort. With small to medium sized dogs it’s not a bad thing or problem at all!

  2. Charles Rhodes

    Thanks for information. I’ve had dogs for my whole life this Golden just won’t stop liking me.

  3. Thanks,the information is very helpful and good. Our young healer is very talented in their 0n way,as they all are. Hard headed is best put.She no,s what you sayin,butt will try ya 1st. LF.

  4. Maryann Walrath

    Our Golden Doodle will give me the paw when she wants to go outside to do her business, if she needs water, or if it’s time to feed her. There are five people in our home, and she only does it to me. Love our doodle!


    I think when my dog does this that she is telling me she doesn’t love me and wants to go back to the shelter where I got her. She is getting worse at it every day and I am with her every day so I don’t understand why this is happening. I have had dogs all my life and this is the first one that has done this continuously. I don’t know how to stop her. If I correct her, she scratches my face consistently. She is a 35 lb Terrier/Chiwawa mix per shelter. More terrier than Chiwawa. Please advise

    1. How’s it going Delores? I’m another pet owner. I’ve has a Chi-Corgi mix, about some size. They can have attitude! We now have a lab-American Staffordshire – Husky mix. Both pawed. In both cases, they seem to get cold. The easiest way to stop pawing has been to offer them a chance to cuddle under a blanket. The lab girl arrived pawing all the time as a response to any event. We are at about the 6-month mark of her joining the family and now it’s pretty much just at bedtime. What I kind of did was dodge the unwanted pawing during the day. Push her off when she’s greeting or wanting attention when I’m sitting, but I’d couple that with asking her to show me what she wants and meeting those needs quickly. Now she’s more likely to be vocal or put her head in my lap if she has a request to make. It’s a long process though. I realize, looking back, that I’ve never had a dog learn anything quickly. It’s more like after months of repetition they surprise me one day by offering a desired behavior instead of one I’ve been trying to train away. As we get more into fall I’ll be getting her a sweater, so she won’t wake me up at night looking to be put under covers 😉 I thope things are going well for you and your Chiwawa.

    2. Hello Delores. Why on earth would you think your dog wants to go back to the shelter????
      Your dog is trying to tell you something. Does she need to go out? Are you playing with her enough? Do you take her for walks for exercise and to burn off energy? If you have a yard, do toss a ball for her? Does she have interesting toys? Treat dispensing toys? Does she need water? All dogs need walks and play time and cuddle time. She is missing something that she is not getting from you.
      I have a cocker spaniel rescue, 5 1/2 when we got him. The shelter did not know much about him, but we figured things out.
      He occasionally paws me and it for attention, usually when I’m playing on my iPad or watching TV. I stop what I’m doing and cuddle him and give him lots of belly rubs and then he is content. Try a few different things with her and I’m sure you will see an improvement. Take care and good luck.

  6. My dog will not jump on the bed or a chair or me. When she wants up she paws at me and I have scars up and down my arm where she drew blood. I am telling her stop and sitting her down she has gotten better but it hasn’t stopped I do t know what to do other than what I am doing. Who as I type she came hit the bed and sat. May be I am doing better than I think.

  7. Consuelo Dunphy

    My dog gives me or my husband the paw when she wants us to pet her and before she goes to bed at night she will paw me and after that she will go to bed around 9:30 pm.

  8. Sometimes my nine-year-old mini doxie scratches me in the middle of the night. After petting and talking for a few minutes she goes to sleep. I wonder if she is waking me for a reason. I am 71 and wear aCPAPCould the sound of it not sealing worry her?

  9. Great article…Well needed. I love when my 14 yr. Old golden retriever gives me his paw – we’re shaking hands of love – he’s so beautiful, that during our walks everyone stops to talk about him, and as they approach us, he’s already sitting with his paw extended to “Give -5” . Most
    Know him and can’t believe that at 14, he’s still so social… Other than some aging process,
    He’s doing ok. So glad I found your site.

  10. My Tasha puppy is 12 now. She has gone deaf and has cataracts in both eyes so we are unsure how well she sees. She does recognize hand signals, but distance seems to be an issue. She is a cocker spaniel, so not a big dog. I noticed this paw behavior as she started losing her senses. She has also become quite clingy. I feel like I’m her seeing eye person lol. I don’t mind her pawing or clingy behavior because I know I don’t have many years left with her, and as annoying as she can sometimes be with the pawing, I know that one day I will miss the disruption, or wish I could have it one more time.

  11. We have a 2yr 10th old Great Dane x Cane Corso x Bull Mastiff female named Prada. A huge sook, frightened of everything, when she was younger and I could still take her for a walk, if a small dog walk past, she would jump behind me. Now only my husband and son are strong enough to take her for walks. She loves me to bits, even though she is my son’s dog, and will sit practically on my lap as if she were a small lap dog and then the pawing starts, at my chest or arms, sometimes drawing blood. I’m pretty sure she isn’t meaning to hurt me, but we have never had a dog do this before and we’ve had an Australian Cattle Dog, Staffy Cross ( both passed on and rescue dogs) and my daughter has a border collie in the house as well. Any ideas would be welcome. I found your article very interesting.

  12. I have a Black and Brown chihuahua his name is Scrappy Doo. He is 2yrs. Old. He acts like he has two personality and will change at any time. He is very loving. An example is last night he was sitting in my lap and I had to move one of my legs because it was tucked under the other leg. He was sleeping and he went into a demon growling,trying to bite and rushing up at you. I finally had to threaten to use the water bottle and he jumped down I told him to go lay in his spot on the couch he did that. In the past he has bite and sometimes hard enough to break the skin. I did enjoy the article it was very informative.

    1. I have had a couple of stubborn babies myself. I read many articles on “alpha” status, I am the alpha and you are too in your home. I have tried different methods, the one that worked for me…laying on top of them, not full body weight, but on top until they stop struggling then they take a deep sigh. I slowly move to the side and lay next to them, if they tried to get up I start over again. My 2 year old silver lab, I have had to do this with her a few times just as a reminder…but it works for me. 🙂

  13. I have a 10-yo male black/white Pomeranian that I love dearly and we communicate very well, he is surely my soul-dog. To even think that I would dissuade the paw communication with him is just not going to happen. He is very well behaved but does get excited as all dogs do, that’s just their nature, but to throw water on one of the communication methods doesn’t bode well with me. The case here is not excessive pawing, but he will let me know he wants to be petted when he’s sitting up on my chest.

    As long as he is alive, I’m going spoil the shit out of him, give him love every chance I get, take him on walks, car rides, playing on the floor, give him treats for no real reason, etc. He’s pretty damn perfect as he is and I want him to have a full life for as long as he is with me.

    I don’t want to have regrets later that I didn’t respond to him or I neglected his feelings just because he pawed me.

  14. I enjoyed reading the article on pawing and will use the techniques offered in the piece.

    Thank you for the insight.

  15. I learned a lot reading your articles about dogs using their paws to communicate.
    I have 2 60lb dogs….. a 6yr old black Lab mix & 5.6yr old ……mixed with lots of dogs. Both are rescues (I have rescued dogs for over 40 years).
    My black lab paws at me for attention…..which I do not like…I correct him and he stops…..but that correction does not seem to stop his behavior. I am thinking that I may be giving him mixed messages. I make him stop – then when he stops, I pet him and talk to him..
    Perhaps I need to wait a bit longer?
    Carol Cooley

  16. What would cause a dog to scratch itself , it has a bath and is well taken care of , an inside dog . It is over a year old. It will go around in circles trying to chew on its tail

  17. I adopted a german shepherd from a shelter when he was a. 1.5-year-old dog. He was wild and had no training I have taken him to lots of training, however hes still crazy much better but still jumps up occasionally and gets crazy humping and if he can he knocks you down I’ve had a couple of behaviorists tell me he may never totally get over this. It was something no one corrected him for in the shelter. Does anyone have any ideas?

    1. Ive learned with Shepards, you have to be dominate in everything or they will try to be.
      They shepard and want to take charge and if they are pets you have to rewire them.
      When you come into to the house for a few days ignore them, never give eye contact. Look up and act distracted.
      When they start to paw you or jump on you , pick up a pillow and hold it creating a barrier between you and them, after doing this a few times they learn its a barrier, what ever you use means to create this will now mean No!
      Also you can pull your knee up as they try to jump , I found that only works sometimes.
      Also, never let them go out the door first. Always go first, every where , that helps them know you are the boss.
      One last thing a Leash is a wonderful trainer, use one when you are inside the house too, when they get too excited or jump, the leash lets them know you are taking control of the situation. Reassure them, its ok, use same words each time .
      I had two sibling Austrailian Shepards, 1.5 year olds that I fostered but found no one could handle them. They were so domineering, controlling , you name it. They were neglected and possibly exposed to a mean grounds guy.
      I ended up keeping them myself and so happy I did.
      Trainers said they were untrainable!!!
      These are the only things thats been able to help and now my dogs can actually be around other people!
      Now my shepards are gentle giants.
      Main point… eye contact and affection is a no go with them until you have established you are the dominant one.
      Oh one other thing, I do use some sign language with them , vocal and gestures together help!

  18. Cole-Thomas Burnsworth

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write this article. We have two Yorkies who always paw at us. One paws gently at our faces while the other paws at our hands. They are very affectionate and intelligent. We usually know what they’re saying when being pawed. It’s just a matter of stopping what we’re doing and taking the time to see what they want or need.
    I really enjoyed the read. Thank you.
    Enjoy your day as much as paws-able.

  19. This article was very useful. We have only had our pup for a couple of days and my legs are full of bruises. I shall try to follow this advice as she is such a sweet little thing. I think maybe she is so demanding as we have her brother too and he is so placid. She may think that she should have all the attention.

    1. Sometimes you need to put your knee very firmly up while saying down or NO what command you choose. If that doesn’t work do it harder so they know you mean business. Sometimes you may need also make them fall down. Most owners may think it’s too harsh. Also just turn away from your dog and walk away and ignore the behavior.

  20. Johanna Ulaszek

    My husband brought home an 8 week old puppy and my 11 year old dog has been Stressing big time.
    If we scold the puppy and train the puppy by telling it no, leave it, drop it etc. my older dog will get extreme Anxiety. Which has caused him to to pawing/clawing at us with force. Which can be very painful.
    He’s used to being an only dog.
    My heart breaks for him. I hate that he’s having to go through this.
    It’s been like this for 18 days now.
    My husband doesn’t want to re home the puppy but it’s hard emotionally to watch our 11 year old go through this. 😞

    1. can you only train the pup when your other dog is separate? in another room or in a crate? I would hate to watch an older dog get stressed as you describe.

  21. My husband passed away this summer he’s gotten very lethargic sleeps a lot and he’s gotten into this habit of piling at me sometimes extends both paws on my arm until I start petting him but I can’t stop because he keeps pawing at me , i’m really feeling concerned I think he’s depressed and misses them I’m going to bring them to my local vet and see what I can do..

  22. Michelle L Douglas

    My gernan shepherd 2yrs old puts 1 paw on the bed or on me while sitting or sleeping. I know she wants constant attention but I believe shes telling me different things each time.
    However there are times where she does it and i am not sure what she wants.

  23. Hello friends,
    My name is Harold and my roommate have a dog name kuma the Samoyed. I never have a dog in my life but whenever my roommate went to work during my day offs, the dog and I are trying to communicate each other. He’s a sweet dog but there’s a time when his stubborn and bark too much. Which my roommate never discipline and train him when he was still a pup.. I wanted to try to learn more about dogs behavior and try to communicate and discipline more. I know I’m not the owner but at-least it’s my start to love one….

  24. When I return from from being out for awhile and I open the door Sophie runs to get a toy to give me. She is so happy and runs to the sofa to play and I follow her to interact with some love and lots of kisses.

  25. Very enlightening. I have a Springer Spaniels, 6 yo, who is a luv muffin. I’m mesmerized by her looking into my eyes for long periods of life. She understands full conversations. Very smart.

  26. Hi Kelly. I have an off-topic question. My 5-year-old 5-pound Yorkie likes to have the hair on her back near her bum pulled and shaken. When it is done and stopped, she will scratch whomever is doing this until they start again. She also initiates this play by coming up to me and my roommate and scratching our arms. Is there a behavioral or medication reason she likes this stimulation? I freaked out the first time I saw my roommate do this to her but she really seems to like it. Thank you.

    1. Michelle Schenker

      We recommend that you start by asking your vet and then perhaps consider a behavioral therapist in your local area.

    2. It’s normal. It’s a zone that is considered quite satisfying for a dog to have scratched and a bit shaken. My dog loves it as well. For those of you who think the butt is being scratched it is not. It is the dogs Lower back above the tail. Weirdos.

  27. Hey Kelly! I have a 11 month old Sheepadoodle that is very, very attached to me and is pawing at me constantly. She is also dealing with separation anxiety. We have a Goldendoodle as well, so we usually give them free range of the first floor of the house if we leave for a little while. Almost every time we leave our Sheepadoodle out, we come back to a nice big pile of poop on a rug, even if she used the bathroom right before we left. We have tried crate training with her, but whenever we check the cameras (very often) she is just howling, barking, and pawing and biting at the door. I don’t know what to do! Help!!!

    1. Michelle Schenker

      We suggest that you reach out to a dog behaviorist in your local area for help. It is very hard to treat behavior issues remotely.

  28. Dave Capitani

    My girlfriend has two Golden Retriever therapy dogs. I have never owned a dog and the female continues to scratch my leg for attention. My girlfriend blames me for not being attentive enough and not keeping my hands down at all times when the dogs are around. I feel the dog needs obedience training and is experiencing bad habits. She claims the dog does not do this to her. I am not sure what to do. I’d appreciate any tips – thanks!

    1. Hi Dave! It sounds like yes, this could be a scenario where the pup needs training. But keep in mind, that’s only if the pawing behavior bothers you, or others. We’ve had to train our dogs out of this behavior personally, because of their size. If you want the behavior to stop, obedience training is a great first step. I’d recommend reaching out to a trainer locally. Good luck!

  29. I have a rescue lab mix. She was mistreated. I’ve had her for over a year. She insists on pawing me and trying to climb on me. This just started a month ago. No matter what I do to her she won’t stop. Gentle or harsh she keeps it up and driving me crazy. I have cancer and can’t handle her pawing all the time. Can’t get much sleep. Help!

    1. Hi Pam! Sounds like you have a persistent pup! My suggestion would be to crate train if you haven’t done that already. Crate training will help eliminate some of this behavior, and she won’t be out near you during sleeping hours. We did the same with our Lab/Mastiff mix, and it’s worked wonders. Good luck!

  30. Summer, my Carolina dog’s communication style with me is thru pawing me. She paws me for attention, especially when my cat is by me. She paws me when she wants to play or go outside. During the evenings when she wants one of her treats, she paws me, then leads me to where they are stored at.

    1. Sounds like a great pup, that knows when to paw you for attention. As long as it’s not bothering you, then it’s always good to know when our pups want us to communicate. Thanks for the comment, Cindy!

  31. I totally agree with your suggestions but I am very impressed with your underlying philosophy. Dogs are empaths. Take the time to learn and appreciate your individual dog. Here is a funny: One of my big female shepherds was afraid of thunderstorms. All I remember was Boom followed by Whammo. It was thunder followed by her slapping me in the head so hard I fell out of the bed. I believe she was saying “Wake Up, Reverend Mother. (could be Rev. Moron). The sky is falling!”

  32. I just rescued a 6-year-old chihuahua. He’s not fixed and has just received his second set of vaccines in his 8 lb. life. He howls and I don’t know why? I’ve had Chihuahuas before but they never did this. He also has a habit of getting on top of me while I’m sitting and he’s on his hind legs and he throws his paws at me and will lay down on his back wanting me to rub his tummy, Thunder has done this continually. I’ve noticed he’s also skittish. Plus I’ve heard him grind his teeth. Why is that?

    1. Hi Darlene! If you recently rescued this pup, these could be signs of anxiety. We just rescued a dog a few months ago to add to our pack, and she’s quite timid as well. Keep socializing him, as it can take 3-4 months for a dog to truly adjust to its new environment. Once your pup realizes he’s safe, he will likely calm down a bit. Good luck with your pup, and thanks for commenting!

  33. I have a Scottie that I rescued about four years ago. Just in the last year she has started when she wants outside or supper or treat time, she will walk up and just gently touch my arm with her paw and then stare at me. If I don’t respond she just keeps touching my arm, until I acknowledge her, when I start to laugh she knows she has my attention and will start to bounce, it’s hilarious.

    1. Unfortunately, there are lots of pups that get scared of loud noises. New Year’s and July 4th are both popular “lost dog” days as they try to escape. The best thing you can do is keep your pup inside, and use some calming chewable supplements if it gets to be too much. Thanks for commenting Tammy!

  34. Pets are the one thing that loves us unconditionally and now we get advice on how to silence the only way they have to communicate their needs to us. Why? To make our superior human lives easier and their uncomplicated canine lives more complicated. No, I think not.

    My dog paws my stomach and lays beside me when he knows my Crohn’s is worse. He dances on two legs when I get home from work. He loves me when I am moody. I love him just the way he is!

    1. Hi Kasey – The point of this article is not to tell anyone they have to correct the behavior. It’s simply stating the reasons why it may be occurring.

      For some owners, constant pawing may not be a problem. But for others, it definitely can be. If you have a 150-pound mastiff that loves to paw kids during playtime, that can be a potential health hazard, and likely needs to be stopped.

      Sounds like you have a great pup, and I’m glad he can keep you comforted during times of need. We appreciate the comment!

      1. Thanks for the article . A 40kg BMD continually pawing really isn’t cute and she nips but it’s becoming too much . It’s quite painful . I will try some of the techniques that you mention.

  35. I am a Double Lung Transplant patient. I was transplanted on 10/20/19, 2 weeks after my surgery, we lost our 10 y/o Doberman to cancer. Her loss was devastating. I had many complications & was hospitalized thru January 2020. We I did get home, it was as if the life had been sucked out of our home. We had no fur baby.

    As soon as my transplant team gave me the OK, we picked out a precious Great Dane/ German Shepherd mix. His name is Baxter, he was 5 lbs when we picked him up & 88lbs now at 7 mo. He has saved my life – literally. By pawing my arm & being VERY persistent, he has alerted me twice now to check my Oxygen Saturation levels. Mine had been very low, indicating pneumonia &/or Rejection. His diagnosis was right on point. He’s my boy!

    1. Wow! Dogs truly are amazing creatures Tami. Thanks for sharing your story. Sounds like you landed yourself the perfect pup!

  36. We have a 2-year-old yellow lab. She paws us a lot, we weren’t sure why and then we realized every time our daughter’s sugar levels are high or low she is doing this. My kiddo was diagnosed with type 1 Diabeties 6 months ago. The dog was telling us something was wrong with her, and now she does it spot on every time if our daughter’s blood glucose is above 150.

    She then starts pawing and if it’s below 80 she paws us. After some research, we found out that the body put off different scents for high and lows. She has literally saved my daughter’s life a few times by waking her up at night because she was going low. My daughter is 15yrs old. I’m so thankful for our fur baby!

    1. Wow, sounds like an amazing dog Jenna! I’m glad you have a pup that can keep you company and take care of your family! Thanks for sharing your story!

  37. Our lab is 90lbs of love. She paws mostly while I enjoy my morning coffee & quiet time in the mornings. No does not work no matter how much I say it or push her away. I end up putting her in the house. Thankfully she only does it now and again.

  38. My dog has been sleeping in my bed for the last 11 years. Lately, she has been pawing at me and not wanting to sleep in the bed. So I put her down and she sleeps on the floor in the bathroom or on
    the side of the bed. I don’t know why this is happening she would sleep in bed sometimes till 11 in the morning. There are times when she paws at me when it is thundering or if she is hungry. But in
    the bed, I’m really not sure.

    1. Hi Michele! It could be that she’s getting hot? Sometimes dogs change their behavior slightly in the summertime. You may want to call a local vet as well to rule out any potential medical issues. Good Luck!

  39. Each time any visitors come to my house my little poodle-Shih Tzu starts to paw furiously at their legs, jumping on them in excitement. If they sit down on the sofa she continues to jump up around on the edge of the sofa and par at their backs/necks. We tried making her sit when this happens but it never succeeds for long. Why is this happening and what else should I do?

    1. Hi Edna, I’m guessing your visitors also pay attention to her. This means she’s getting what she wants. Make sure to have your guests not give into the urge to pay attention to your pup, or it’s just reinforcing the behavior. Also, make sure you are positively reinforcing the behavior you want. When she’s calm and not jumping, reward with a treat or food if she’s food motivated. Hope this helps and good luck!

  40. Jessica Chavchavadze

    My Oliver will come to lay next to me and paw at my right arm to put it around him when he sleeps. It’s his Security blanket! Ever since he was a puppy I have always cradled him like a New Born where he sleeps on his back. He talks and actually says I love you, And he will answer questions with 1 bark meaning “Yes” and 2 means “No.”
    He is very intelligent!

  41. Our 9 month old Dolly (puggle boxer mix) sits next to my desk and STARES at me and occasionally paws at my leg for attention. Sometimes she stands and puts her paw on my armrest, I assume to get my attention. I gently put her back to the ground and try to pet her, which she mostly resists and backs away.

    I’m sure she’s trying to tell me something; I take her out and she doesn’t potty, wants back in. I wonder if she’s just bored and wants me to stop working, which I would love to do! Any suggestions, other than quit my job?! Thanks!

    1. Hi Missy! Sometimes dogs paw as a sign of “dominance” but it sounds like that’s not the case with Dolly! I’m assuming that you’ve tried feeding her? Is working from home a new thing? If so, it’s possible that she’s not used to you being home so often and is becoming a bit more dependent on you. We had this happen with one of our dogs.

      My husband is now working from home with all that’s going on right now, and our male mastiff is at his side constantly, and always wants his attention. Dogs tend to attach just as much as humans do, especially when they are around more frequently. We’ve started exercising him more frequently and that’s seemed to calm down a little bit of the neediness. Hope this helps!

  42. While I am sitting on my couch my mini poodle will jump up on couch and start pawing me. He wants me to pick him up and put him on my shoulder so he can lay around the back of my neck to look out the window!

  43. We recently adopted Molly, a 10 year old rescue beagle. She is a joy to us, but I have a problem with her pawing me. If she is on my lap she wants constant petting or she will literally claw my face. I have tried saying no & holding her paws, and putting her down, but she seems so sad then. It’s difficult to know when to do what. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Sandra! As hard as it will be, try being firm and saying “no” and not paying attention to her. If the pawing is getting excessive, it’s best to not reinforce what she wants, which is your attention. Also, make sure, if the desired behavior is to sit still, you reward her for doing the behavior that you want. Hope this helps!

  44. I understand the paw for attention, my Doxie is so spoiled , but when he is sleeping next to me, he always has one paw on my leg.

  45. Wow! Thank you for the information about pawing. I understand Titus more now. When he jumps upand puts his paws in my lap, I felt like he was demanding my attention. Now I can stop that behavior by redirecting him to sit longer when he is requesting my attention.

  46. My 2 yr old female chihuahua likes to get up on my pillow and scratch my face. I keep trying to correct her by telling her no no, or I tell her no and take her down from there. It doesn’t seem to be working. Do you have any more ideas?

    1. Hi Deborah! Firstly, you are doing the right thing by telling her “no” and putting her down. Next you want to start rewarding the behavior you want to encourage with high value rewards (food, praise, etc.). If you let her up on your bed at other times, then that behavior should also stop. Hope this helps!

  47. I have a small dog that sleeps in bed with me. When we wake up she’s so excited she immediately paws my face. How do I train when laying flat on my back?

    1. Hi Christine! I think the appropriate thing to do is to train them not to do it if the behavior is potentially causing you harm. The best way to do this is to reinforce the good behavior you want, while consistently correcting/ignoring behavior you do not want. Hope this helps!

  48. My Frenchie alternates between my hubby and I when we’re talking and not paying her attention. She also paws our male Frenchie which sounds like a dominant trait after reading this – thank you!

  49. I have a mini aussie for my anxiety she’s only 2. And when I start to have an anxiety attack she will paw at me to bring me out of the attack so I can focus on her instead of the anxiety. She also paws at me to wake me up from nightmares.

  50. My dog is 8 months old and has to jump up and kiss you all the time some times it is tiring is she insecure and she wants to shake your hand at the same time, can you help?

    1. Hi Barbara! Once an undesirable behavior is established, you will need to put in the time to train your dog on the proper behavior. I would start with gentle corrections, and making sure you tell her “no” when she’s pawing if it’s excessive. Make sure you reward good behavior, and always make sure your pup has plenty of walks & exercise. Don’t give up on your pup. You just need to be firm and consistent with reinforcing the good behavior you want. Good luck!

  51. My 200 pound Mastiff, Mac, has this down to a science. Persistent pawing means I need to go out or I’m out of fresh water. Level 2 pawing means, “Pay attention to me” but he will respond to, “Go lay down, Mac” I make sure to go to him later to rub on him and tell him what a good boy he is.

  52. This is a message to Fran about her shitzu with leash aggression.

    My 80 pound Zeus also has leash aggression. I have arthritis and am no longer able to take him for walks. He sees other dogs walking past our home from our deck and puts up a barking howling ruckus and it sounds like a challenge but his tail is wagging because he so desperately wants to play. He wants to be social with other dogs. There are no well-fenced doggy parks where he can run loose with other dogs.

    I’ve approached professional trainers who say they can take him into there three or four week program and train him with shock collars. I’m not opppsed to shock collars if properly used. But I am afraid of giving someone else license to train him without my presence. I’m afraid of losing his trust and spirit. So, we keep a good eye on him and live him and take him with us to places where we know it is safe for him.

    What amazes me is that when we walk him in leash and walk on trails, other big dog owners signal they will take an alternate route (at trail intersections). I’m amazed at the courtesy and enlightenment displayed in these instances!

    When we do try to walk him on rare occasions, we use prong collars and when meeting another dog on leash, we get his attention with petting and a shortened leash and talk to Zeus. (Be good. Be nice. Heel.). This is surprisingly effective! There are methods that work. Don’t give up! Good luck!!

  53. I have a horrible situation with my Shitzu. He is 2.5 now. When we go to the groomers he is so good with other people and their dogs. When we walk on a leash he goes nuts with other dogs. How can I get him to stop this embarrassing behavior?

    1. Hi Fran, unfortunately, there’s generally no quick fix once your pup has learned to be leash reactive. What we’ve done with ours is positive reinforcement. When our male mastiff started getting leash reactive, we started carrying high-value food with us. What we’d do is we would reward him before another dog came down the street, and kept his attention on us. He started associating other dogs with “good things” and this helped adjust his behavior.

      We’ve also just learned that even though he’s better, he still gets defensive with other aggressive dogs on a leash, so we just make sure to avoid putting him in that circumstance if we see another dog coming down the street that’s really high energy. Hope this helps!

  54. My Bubba, Pyrenees mix, he lays next to me on the couch, puts he’s paw on my leg, falls asleep. If I move that paw, he wakes up.

  55. My shi-poo Milo is my service dog now partly because he will paw at my face and arm. I have a vaso- vagel condition and he can smell when I may pass out. He will smell my breath and paw my face then sit on my chest for support.

  56. I have a six y/o yellow female lab who occasionally has bowel issues. If she ever needs to go outside to do her business in the middle of the night she ever so gently touches her paw to my arm. Her touch is so soft and gentle that if I weren’t in tune with her I’d sleep right through it.

    It doesn’t happen often but when it does, I know immediately what she needs. This is not something I taught her and the first couple of times I was not happy she woke me up. I’d grumble and tell her to lay back down and I’d drift off back to sleep until I felt her paw on my arm again a minute later.

    Finally, I got smart enough to ask “do you need to go out”? She jumped out of the bed faster than I could blink. Duh!!! Now I never question her, I just know. When in the car if my arm is resting on the center console, her paw is resting on my forearm. She is a VERY loving dog who shows me in many ways I hadn’t thought about until reading this article. Thank you!

    1. Thanks for your comment Lori, sounds like you have a very sweet pup! Our dogs paw at us when they want to be pet, and do it constantly!

  57. This was such a pleasure to read. I have an almost 4 yr old red nose Pitt bull, who displays all of the above pawing.

    When I get home daily (first to arrive from work), I unlock the door, he jogs in the house ahead of me, straight to my bedroom, where I unarm the alarm. When I turn from the keypad, he’ll have a flip flop or slipper in his mouth, picked up from the floor.

    He then jogs past me, goes outside and knows that I’ll go after him. Sometimes he’ll come when I call to gently tug flop out of his mouth, sometimes he’ll not listen and gives me the run around before letting me take the flop.

    This happens daily, and he’s not impartial to who’s shoes he takes, mine, hubby’s, daughter’s. Doesn’t matter, as long as he takes a shoe.

    Just thought I’d share… : )

  58. Unfortunately I can only get him out in the afternoon for our long walks. Being winter it is still dark until after 7 and we all leave for work at 6:30. I do go out in the mornings and throw the ball around and play with him before I leave but lately that is when the trouble has started because he plays rough and starts jumping and nipping.

    What did you do to stop this? “No” is not working nor do I want to keep yelling no at him. I have to quickly remove myself as he’s running after me. There is someone in and out every few hours so he does get let out to run around. Please let me know what you did for stopping this issue. I’ve had dogs all my life but it’s been 16 years since I went through the puppy years as I have lost my two dogs in the past two years that I have had for 10 and 14 years.

    1. Hi Karen, to stop jumping we have always turn our backs to our dog and ignored them. That worked for our chocolate lab. She always wanted attention, so when we gave it to her, she’d continue the behavior. When we stopped, she stopped. We didn’t yell, just a firm correction with “no” and then ignoring the behavior. Good luck, and definitely continue rewarding good behavior with treats. If none of that works, I’d suggest looking at a professional trainer.

  59. My yellow lab is 6 months old and does this all the time. He even nibbles me! Which sometimes hurts. We get out for walks on a daily bases. He constantly wants to play. He’s 75lbs and when we go out to play he gets really wild. Jumping up on us. When this happens I say no and walk inside. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Karen – we had a chocolate lab for many years, and she used to do the same thing. We resolved to walk her twice per day, starting with an early morning walk to wear her out. This helped, and then constant correction of the behavior. You can’t let it slip, even once. You also have to correct the behavior as it’s happening. We have found that with our mastiffs who are very high-value food motivated, that constantly rewarding the right behavior helps. You will get there, just make sure to be consistent! Thanks for commenting!

  60. Teresadale Hallett

    I adopted a female Chihuahua, she is around 8 years old. She never barks but she does paw at my hands and chest when I am holding her. She has very strong legs and it hurts, also she pushes her paws on my chest and pulls down. How can I stop this? I have tried just tapping her feet and saying no it’s not working.

    1. Hi Theresadale, thanks for stopping by and commenting. I’d start with encouraging your pup’s good behavior by rewarding with high-value treats. Not sure if your pup is food motivated or not, but that can be a very useful training aid for a pup that’s not listening, especially an older one. You also need to make sure you correct it every single time. Not harshly, but put the paws where they belong (usually on the ground) and repeat.

      Eventually, your pup will get the hint. If not, you may also want to look into having a professional dog trainer meet your pup and help you train. Our Male English Mastiff had some really bad habits and consistency was the primary thing that helped him become a much more well-behaved pup. Hope this helps!

  61. My rescue dog will put her paw on my knee if I’m not paying attention to her… and if she wants to me to play our game. I made a toy that she and her ‘sister’ dearly love and it’s VERY interactive.

    After we are through playing, she is satisfied for a while, but if I don’t at least play with them at least once a day, she will just not leave me alone. Both of them are sweethearts!

  62. Scarlet is the love of our life! At night she will paw at me to move so that she can lay in my spot! Nice. Toasty. Warm. 65 pounds of beautiful pitbull! She also paws at us to show love and tenderness towards us. She’s adorable!

  63. My fury baby she very kind sweet loving dog she always tap me with her paw , in the most gentle intelligent loving way, very good well behaved dog.

  64. I cuddle my chihuahua, when I’m done she paws me & drags my hand under her stomach where she leans on it. She is telling me I am hers. She will do this with her favorite toy, only one toy. Also she sits & stares at me for hours with such love in her eyes. We talk at night before bed, she tries so hard to talk.

  65. Our Shih Tsu paws me twice because she is cold & wants 2 get under the covers…so I hold them up so she can burrow-this goes on several times a nite.

  66. My miniature schnauzer uses her paw to gently touch our hands and drag them to her body when she wants us to pet/scratch her. It is def a form of communication for her to tell us what she wants. When she is hungry or wants to go outside she uses her voice with little sounds and yips to “talk” to us. If we don’t respond quickly enough she gets louder and louder and adds in some actions as well!

    When she does NOT want to go outside she will walk to a corner of the room, sit and turn her back away from us to show that this is not what she wants to do!

  67. My west highland white terrier pats my leg to tell me he needs to go potty outside and other times to tell me he loves me. There are other messages he sends. You just have to understand your pet and what he is telling you at that time.

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