It’s super adorable when dogs randomly put their paws on you — and apparently, it’s not as random as it might seem.
Dog behaviorist Rebecca Forrest wrote about the topic at The Dog Clinic. She says that dogs are actually trying to communicate with you when they lay their paws on you. They can’t speak, so a little paw language will have to do!
The message could be one of several things. First, it could be a simple request for attention.
Putting a paw on you is a relatively polite, subtle way to say: “Hi, remember me? I’m here.” It’s way less annoying than barking or whining, that’s for sure! Dogs were bred to interact with humans, so they inherently love human attention.
They may just paw at you because they know it’ll get them some pets and affection back. Or, they might put their paw on you to reciprocate the love once you’re already petting them.
Similarly, your dog might be trying to signal to you that he’s feeling stressed and needs some reassurance. If there are other signs of stress, such as yawning or flat ears, this may be the case. Rather than comfort your dog, try distracting him instead.
There could also be a more specific need, such as food. Is it your dog’s regular meal time when he paws you? If so, he may be giving you a little reminder.
Either way, the pawing is definitely not intended to dominate, provoke, or irritate — so go easy on your dog if he paws at you a little too often! If it gets to be too much, the best tactic is to ignore him.