Dogs don’t have hands, so they use their paws for all kinds of activities. But why does my dog paw me and how am I going to stop dogpawing? Your dog pawing at you can be painful for you and especially small children or elderly people, even if though they don’t intend on causing pain.
The biggest reason your dog is pawing you is because it works for them to get what they want. There is a reward that comes with them pawing at you. Any form of attention is a reward for your dog.
Why Does My Dog Keep Slapping His Paw At Me
Most likely, starting at a young age, your dog put his paw on you by accident and he got rewarded by being petted, scratched or even picked up. At a very young age they realize that there is a reward to this type of behavior. It gets them attention, and what dog doesn’t want attention.
Your dog realizes that this repeated behavior will get them the desired result they are looking for. You are now paying attention to them. This behavior isn’t much different than a small child tugging on their mom when she is having a conversation with someone else. They want to be included in what you are doing.
Dogs Use Paws To Communicate
Pawing is a normal behavior that is used to communicate with people and other dogs. We have all seen dogs, especially puppies or playful dogs swat at their toys to make them move and be more exciting. Dogs also swat at other dogs to get them to play with them. So is it so unusual for our dogs to swat at us also?
What is your dog trying to say to you when they are pawing you? There could be a number of things they are trying to communicate to you.
They want to play. When your dog is looking for a playmate, unless you have other pets, you are probably their choice for playtime. Watch for the signals of their tail wagging, panting or a relaxed smile on their face. This generally will mean they are looking for some ball time, tug of war, or other playing activity.
They need your help. If your dog paws you and adds some vocal sounds, they are probably trying to tell you something. When they come paw you and then head to their leash or door, they are communicating they want to go outdoors. Maybe their water bowl is empty, and they are trying to get you to notice they need water.
They are curious. Dogs are very curious in nature and if you have something in your hand, they may want to take a look or give it a good sniff to see if it is something that is interesting to them.
Want to apologize. Most dogs don’t like getting into trouble, so if they did something that they got disciplined for, putting their paw on you might be their way of saying sorry.
Want to comfort you. Dogs can recognize human emotions and will want to help you feel better. I know there has been times that I have cried and my dogs always come sit with me, and usually put their paw up on my leg. It is if they are saying “I am here for you.”
Wants you to pet him or pay attention to them. This is probably the most common reason that dogs will paw at you. They want your hands to be on them. They want to be petted, scratched or have their belly rubbed. They just want your hands on them.
How To Get Your Dog To Stop Pawing You
The behavior of learning that pawing comes with a reward is easier for your dog to learn than it is to learn to stop pawing you. Getting them to stop pawing can be very difficult.
You will need everyone on board to get your dog to stop pawing. That includes everyone who lives in your home and all friends and family that come to your home. If anyone rewards the behavior of pawing by petting your dog, your dog will continue this behavior because they realize that sometimes it still works.
The best thing you can do to get your dog to stop pawing you is to ignore them. (I know this can be hard.) Don’t touch them in any way. You can cross your arms, no eye contact, don’t speak to them or discipline them. Discipline is still a form of attention for them. Get up and walk away from them and give them no response at all.
If you get up and walk away from them, a few minutes later, call them over and reward them with a treat or the attention they were looking for. The biggest thing is not to give any attention when they slap their paw at you.
Provide your dog with random attention throughout the day when your dog isn’t pawing at you.
Provide lots of exercise for your dog. It will help prevent boredom and burns excess energy off. Generally speaking, your dog should get 2 sessions a day of exercise that makes them pant.
Provide your dog with interactive toys that will help with mental stimulation and are fun for them and help keep them busy.
Teach Your Dog To Shake
I know, it seems counterproductive to teach a dog to shake that already has an issue with pawing you, but it will give you more control over their paw behavior.
When your dog learns to shake, you are rewarding them with a treat or praise. When you ignore a dog that gives you a paw when it isn’t requested, but reward them when you ask to shake, they will start to realize that they are only rewarded for their paw when you ask for it.
Direct Your Dog In A Different Direction
When your dog approaches you and you realize they are about to paw you, give them a different command. Ask your dog to “sit” or “lay down” or some other command they are good at. Then you can provide your dog with the attention and affection they were looking for. You won’t be giving them attention or affection because your dog slapped their paw on your lap, but rather because they followed a direction that you gave them.
The biggest thing to realize about why your dog paws you is that you probably reinforced the behavior long before you even realized what was going on. Starting at a very young age, your dog probably put his paw on you and you petted or scratched him and it became a learned behavior that paw on you gives me what I want.
If you want to get your dog to stop dog pawing, you are going to need to be consistent with not responding to your dog’s paw and everyone that comes in contact with your dog will also have to consistently ignore your dog when it happens. No talking, looking at your dog, or touching your dog. No attention in any shape or form.
Good luck with modifying your dog’s behavior. It will take lots of work before you will see results.
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