When Your Dog Paws You They May Be Trying To Say, 'I Love You"

by Julie Scagell
Originally Published: 
Scary Mommy and Simona Pilolla/EyeEm/Getty

Dogs put their paws on us to communicate how they are feeling

If you have a furry canine BFF, you’ll notice they have a tendency to put their paws on you. While dog lovers enjoy having any sort of doggo attention, it would be nice if we could communicate with them. “Hey bud, you hungry? Want me to throw the ball? Are you feeling especially needy today? Should I stop eating these chips?” are all questions I’ve asked my pups when they do this. Turns out, there are a few very good reasons they do this.

The Dog Clinic recently posted the answer to this all-consuming question and people are eternally grateful for the 4-1-1 on our fur babies and their innermost thoughts. As you can probably imagine, dogs put their paws on us in order to communicate. Turns out there are several reasons they do it — and once you read them you can take heart knowing the next time they do, we can work tirelessly towards a solution because our pups are telling us something and we must take action to meet their every need.

Author Rebecca Forrest says one reason is that they need some good old-fashioned attention. If your dogs are like mine, this happens 100 percent of the time, 24 hours a day unless they are napping whilst still subconsciously demanding belly rubs. “Dogs thrive on human companionship,” Forrest writes. “We’ve bred them to be dependent on us for everything – including fun and social interaction – so they aren’t shy about letting us know they’re feeling neglected.”

This totally makes sense because one of my dogs is famous for bringing his stinkiest and most disgusting stuffy over to me, dropping it on my freshly opened laptop, and then pawing my arm until I throw it to him. It doesn’t happen until the exact moment I open it, because, as I imagine he’s thinking, “Mom work. I need.”

The gesture can also mean “I love you” or “I’m feeling insecure,” according to Forrest. If they display signs of distress like stress-yawning or flattened ears it could be the latter. “The best thing you can do if he’s worried is stay positive and try to distract him from what he is thinking about. A great way to do this is playing with a toy or changing the environment,” she advises. It could also mean that doggo is feeling All Of The Feels and wants us to know they love us, too. “By putting his paw on you whilst you are stroking him, he is further extending contact and reciprocating affection back,” Forrest says.

She also gives some friendly advice if the pawing occurs at a time when we don’t want to be pawed (which I believe is never). She says we can do things like moving away from them to not reinforce the behavior (who’s the animal now?), making sure they are stimulated before we sit down, and not making eye contact.

It’s nice to know they are trying to communicate with us and I, for one, will forever believe my pups are always pawing me to say, “I love you. But also, put that bowl of chips down.”

This article was originally published on