Why Does my Dog Push Me with His Paws?

Border Collie Waving his paw

Your dog communicates with you using body language. Everything from the position of their ears, mouths, tails, and paws are communicating with you. Your answer to, why does my dog push me with his paws, is that he is trying to communicate something to you.

It is your job to determine what your dog is attempting to communicate to you. Here are several possibilities to consider as to what your dog is trying to tell you.

Your Dog Wants Attention

This is the most common reason as to why your dog is pawing at you. However, there is more to determine than simply your dog wanting attention.

You will want to discover why does he want my attention? What does he need or want? Sometimes, the reason your dog want attention can be obvious.

Your Dog Wants to Play

Cute labrador retriever dog puppy and young woman give a High Five by sunset - Why Does My Dog Push me with His Paws?

For example, if he has a ball and just drops it beside you and you don’t respond, he may start becoming more insistent. This could evolve into pushy behavior which should be discouraged at the first sign. If pushy behavior gets a positive response from you then they will use it all the time and it will become extremely annoying.

Your Dog Feels Insecure and Wants affection

Another reason that pawing may occur if your dog is feeling insecure for some reason. Have you been very busy lately with work, school, and other activities? It’s possible that your dog is feeling neglected and is seeking some reassurance that he is still important to you.

Even if your life is busier right now, try to always fit in some quality time and attention for your dog. Don’t neglect your dog because you are busy. Your dog still requires the same amount of attention.

Wants To Be Taken Outside

It’s possible that your dog just needs to be let outside to relieve himself. If it is not obvious right away what your dog wants from you, this should be one of your first thoughts (unless you have a doggy door). So, just get up and open the door so your dog can go outside.

If this is not what he wants, he will either just go outside and then just want right back in, or not even go outside.

Your Dog Is Feeling Hungry and Asking for Food

Dog Begging for food putting paw on owner's arm - Why does my dog push me with his paws?

Also, consider the time of day or evening it is. Has your dog been fed yet? If not, then he may just be getting hungry and want his dinner. Maybe you have been too engrossed in what you are doing that your dog’s normal dinner time has come and gone.

He may feel that he needs to remind you, especially if you have been paying less attention to him lately.-

Your Dog Is in Pain

Another reason your dog is pawing you could be that he is in pain. This is another very important consideration that should be determined quickly. Also look for other signs that your dog could be in pain, such as whining, limping, panting and others.

Gently look over your dog for any visible sores or tender spots. Be sure to check his ears and feet for any objects that could be hurting him.

If this behavior continues, take your dog to a veterinarian just to be sure there is nothing severely wrong with him. If the vet finds something, then the vet will treat it and the pain reason for pawing will go away. 

Your Dog Is Empathizing with You

If you have been feeling more upset and stressed lately your dog could be trying to empathize with you. Some dogs are extremely sensitive to our feelings. These dogs can tell when we are feeling depressed or worried.

If this is the case, it is very possible that your dog is just trying to make you feel better.

Demonstrating Submission

Woman holding little paws of cute puppy Welsh Corgi in hands while the puppy sleeping.

Another possible reason that your dog could be pawing you is because he feels guilty about something. Maybe he got into the trash or destroyed something, and you displayed anger toward him.

In this case the pawing is his way of being submissive and apologizing for bad behavior.

Demonstrating Dominance Over You

Unless your dog tends to dominate, this is not very likely, however it is possible. If the paw pushing is accompanied by other dominance signals such as growling.

This type of dominant behavior should be discouraged early in your dog’s life. Never encouraging this type of pawing.

This is not very common, and some sources don’t even believe it to be true.

Expressing Love Towards You

Pawing can also be an expression of your dog’s love for you. Especially if it is accompanied by head and snout nudging, licking. Your dog may also start pawing at you during play just to show their affection.

Dogs that Love to Paw (and Dig)

Young woman hand feeding her american spaniel dog while sitting on floor in living room. Female hand gives a treat.

Some dog breeds are more likely to use their paws more frequently than others. If you happen to have one of these dog breeds, then you are more likely to feel your dogs paw on you than if you had a different breed.

Dog breeds that use their paws more are also more likely to be diggers. So, if you notice that your dog paws at you frequently, you may also notice some of your flowers and plants are also being dug up. If your dog is digging up your landscaping, you are going to need to train him not to do this.

The breeds that are more likely to use their paws include Terriers, Beagles, Alaskan Malamutes, Dachshunds, Boxers, Australian Shepherds and Siberian Huskies.


Final Thoughts

It is important that you understand your dog’s body language so you will be better equipped to understand your dog’s needs and feelings.

Once you have a better understanding of your dog’s forms of body language, then if you pay attention to all his body language that accompany pawing, then you will have a better understanding of what your dog is trying to tell you.

Please feel free to make any comments relating your experiences with your dog’s pawing behavior and how you interpret it.

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