Why Do Dogs Paw Us?


Pawing behaviour in dogs can be both endearing and perhaps sometimes a little annoying; especially if you are accidentally scratched, or clothes are snagged!  But what does it mean when our dogs paw us?  Holidays4Dogs digs a little deeper to find out more!

Dogs use all sorts of fascinating ways to communicate with other dogs and also with humans. Pawing is one of them. Not surprisingly, many dogs have been taught to use this form of communication by, none other than, ourselves.

Reasons why dogs paw at us.

Most pet dogs learn from an early age how to give a paw because we have rewarded them for doing so. One of the first things owners teach their new pet, is to give a paw.

Many dogs will paw their owners if the petting stops and lots of owners will understand this cute trait. Usually, this means “why have you stop tickling me? Do it some more!”

Most dogs love touch and attention from us as much as we enjoy showing our love for them. So when your dog reaches out a paw when you pet him, he is probably reciprocating affection.

Is pawing a problem?

Generally speaking, if your dog paws at you it should not give cause for concern. Sometimes, the behaviour can become habitual. It may become a nuisance if your dog does this as way of begging for food.  In this case, it is probably best to ignore it and avoid giving your dog titbits from the table.

dog sitting, pet sittingIf your dog is an anxious sort he may paw at you if he is feeling worried. In this case, it is perfectly ok to give him some reassurance and comfort to help him feel more relaxed.

Puppies will frequently paw at other dogs and people and sometimes this can be a problem if it is too rough. Puppies often use both paws to ‘paddle’ and scratch and this is often accompanied by jumping up.

However, it is best not to encourage this behaviour but to reward him instead, for keeping his paws firmly on the ground!  Some puppy’s claws can be incredibly sharp; not good for delicate skin, or clothing, and could cause injury to small children. A dog’s paws and claws are meant for digging – so as the puppy becomes an adult his, or her, claws get stronger and can do more damage. If your dog enjoys digging, how about building them a digging pit?!


Giving a paw is perhaps one of the most endearing traits dogs have and this becomes even more heart warming, if the dog chooses himself to softly place a paw on our knee and gaze deeply into our eyes – a truly heart warming moment that helps us bond with our dogs and love them even more.