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9 Weird Reasons Why Your Dog Grabs Your Arm + 3 Tips

Why Does My Dog Grab My Arm

Did your dog grab you again with their mouth?

Don’t worry…They did not mistake you for a chew toy.

Or maybe, they’re randomly trying to grab you with their paws…

Whichever of the two it is, you must be wondering what’s the meaning behind these behaviors.

Read on to discover:

  • How your dog can sense your emotions.
  • 9 reasons why your dog grabs your arm.
  • 3 things to do when your dog acts this way.
  • How to tell whether they want your attention or not.
  • And much more…

Why does my dog grab my arm?

Your dog grabs your arm because they might be playful or they want your attention. It could also mean that they’re feeling anxious or unwell. Other reasons for this behavior include boredom, a sudden feeling of affection, and hunger.

#1: They’re anxious

Did your dog just grab your arm out of the blue?

They might be anxious about something.

Your dog can be telling you that something feels peculiar.

And it makes them feel uncomfortable or overwhelmed…

“How can I exactly know, though?”

It might be tough to identify at first. But all it takes is a careful look around your surroundings.

Notice if there is something unusual that your dog doesn’t normally like. Or something they haven’t encountered before.

Examples of things that you can look out for:

  • Sudden or persistent loud noises.
  • Congested and noisy environment.
  • Their own shadow, which some dogs are scared of. 
  • The presence of another dog immediately makes them possessive of you.

If you observe any of this around, that might be the source of their discomfort.

Another way to confirm is for you to check your dog’s body language. 

If they’re anxious as they grab your arm, you’d see that they’re not wagging their tail. Instead, you’ll realize that they’re not feeling playful at all.

Instead, their tail is down and they’re hunching a little. 

The observation of the two mentioned proofs narrows the behavior down to anxiety’s effects.

But let’s look at what anxiety disorder in dogs is.

It’s stated in this study that dogs can perceive even something that’s unpredictable.

In fact, anxiety accompanies the majority of behavioral disorders in dogs.

Thus, your dog must’ve sensed something that made them grab your arm. 

Other signs of anxiety include:

“Huh? I looked around and didn’t notice anything. Nothing of trouble at all…but their body language says otherwise. So what does this mean?”

Then your dog might be experiencing Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

GAD is a serious condition that affects both humans and animals.

According to the abovementioned study, your dog might have GAD if they show persistent or almost constant signs of anxiety and fear during any event. In random and without any pre-existing context. 

GAD is a serious disorder that may stem from trauma. 

This disorder impairs one’s life quality, as well as how they function on a daily basis.

Other causes of GAD include:

  • Genetics.
  • Different perceptions of threats.
  • Different brain chemistry and function. 
  • Upbringing, which negatively affects development and personality.

Bear in mind that GAD manifests in different ways

That’s why people and animals who are diagnosed with GAD need more patience and understanding from us.

How to treat anxiety:

  • Modify their behaviors.
  • Train them through positive reinforcement.
  • Remove triggers at home that may activate their anxiety.
  • If none of this works for your dog, consult a veterinarian. It may be time for medications.
  • Phobias.
  • Aggression.
  • Separation anxiety.

#2: They may be unwell

This time they are telling you that they’re sick or injured. 

And they run to you to help them feel better. They trust that you care for them enough to do so.

It’s not hard to tell as well. Whining will tend to accompany the arm-grabbing as well. 

With that, it’s time to attend to your little pup that is currently feeling pain.

It’s best to do a general check-up of your dog’s body. 

To make your dog behave during the check-up, mask it as a massage…

When actually, you will be applying light pressure around their body and check if there is any swelling.

That swelling could be enlarged lymph nodes. And swollen lymph nodes indicate that your dog’s body is fighting against bacteria or viruses. 

You should also check for an open wound or anything that indicates a disease or illness. 

Check out also: 17 Reasons Why Your Dog Is So Clingy All Of Sudden + 7 Tips

#3: Attention-seeking

Your Dog Grabs Your Arm To Seek Attention

They’re not going to let go!

They don’t care whether you enjoy it or not.

Attention from you is the attention they need.

It may start with a short occurrence. Where they just tap you with their paw…

Until it progresses and progresses…

They’re now enveloping your arm with their two front paws

Next thing you know, they grab your arm with their mouth.

“Why do they do it this way in particular?”

The explanation rests on how dogs express themselves through tactile communication

This means that your dog initiates physical contact to give you a message.

Numerous studies tell us that physical contact between humans and dogs has many positive benefits.

It’s found that physical contact reduces your blood pressure and increases your immune system’s function.

And for your dog, being touched is positive reinforcement. It also makes their heart beat fast!

And so, they grab you, feel the surge of happiness from touching you, and want more of your attention.

Other attention-seeking behaviors include:

  • Leaning.
  • Nudging.
  • Upright ears.
  • Attentive gaze.
  • Vigorous wagging of the tail.

Did you know? Your dog’s facial movements increase when you’re more attentive to them compared to when you’re not. 

#4: Sudden feeling of affection

Ever get those times that you suddenly feel affectionate?

Your dog has these affection bursts too!

And as I mentioned before, dogs are tactile beings.

They suddenly feel lovable and they want to tell you!

They want to show that, right now, they’re feeling affectionate towards you.

That arm-grabbing can be equal to an “I love you”.

Heartwarming, isn’t it?

Additionally, they might also expect you to feel the same way and do the same.

Give them some petting in return. Or cuddle with them…

It will be beneficial for both of you. 

You might be wondering why and how.

Well, oxytocin is to blame for it. 

After a positive social interaction, you and your dog are flooded with this love hormone. 

Many studies suggest there is an increase in oxytocin during human-dog interactions. 

And that even a simple smile can do the deed…

Read next: Why does my dog lick me in the morning?

#5: They want more!

According to Dr. Sarah Wooten, DVM, dogs speak with their hands.

Say you are giving them a belly rub… However, you grew tired of it. 

But your little pup’s not satisfied yet! And so, he grabs your arm! 

“Why did you stop?” 

They want more of that loving attention, and they’re taken aback by your withdrawal.

Come on… give the little pup more of that loving.

How can you tell if this is what your dog wants? 

Chances are, your dog will stare at you until you resume your petting activity. Plus, if you do it again and it appears that they’re very pleased with it, there you go! 

#6: They’re not in the mood

“Didn’t you just say they want more?”

Yes, but sometimes it’s exactly the opposite… So you should learn to read between the lines.

Your dogs love you and the attention you give them, but they want space, too.

According to a study’s result, the participants found out that their dogs want attention, but not all the time. 

It also shows that sometimes their dogs aren’t in the mood for any playtime either. 

“So how can I tell?” 

It’s fairly easy.

If you are already petting them or giving them a belly rub, then they grab your hand with their mouth…that’s it.

They’re saying, “Hooman, stop…”

And if that’s the case, we have to respect it and give them the personal space they deserve.

Don’t worry, they’ll eventually come back and beg for your attention again… but just let them have this for a while. 

#7: They know you’re not okay

Yes, your dog can sense your emotions. 

That’s why they grab your arms to let you know that “It’s going to be okay.”

One interesting study figured this out by putting 2 speakers between the dogs.

The speakers played the same sound that conveys 6 basic emotions:

  • Fear.
  • Anger.
  • Disgust.
  • Surprise.
  • Sadness.
  • Happiness.

When the speakers played sounds that are fearful and sad in nature, the dogs turned their heads to the left.

That’s because dogs process negative emotions on the left side of their brain.

With that, the researchers found out that when a dog hears sounds that are sad and fearful, they process it as a negative emotion.

When it comes to communicating visually, dogs figure it out through your facial expressions, voice, and gestures.

Want more proof?

Another study with a fascinating title (Timmy’s in the well: Empathy and prosocial helping in dogs) suggests that dogs are affected by our negative emotions.

Meaning that if your dog is closely bonded with you, they’d go all their way into comforting you. 

Your dog is also a self-aware pup. They know if they can do something about the trouble you’re facing or not. 

If they do, according to the author of the study, your dog “Goes through barriers to provide you help.”

Want to see the study in action?

Watch this video of a dog coming to the rescue of their crying fur parent…

Warning! It may be 23 seconds long only but it’s soul-stirring!

You might also want to know: 13 Surprising Reasons Why Dogs Sleep On Your Stomach

#8: They’re bored

As social beings, dogs get bored easily.

Unlike us, they don’t have that much to do besides providing us company, loyalty, and love. Which is their full-time job when you think about it.

Jokes aside, they do have a lot of time in their paws. 

So, if they grab your arm because they’re bored, they may be telling you to play with them. Or take them somewhere they want to go. 

Maybe you forgot that it’s time to walk them and they’re reminding you.

Other reasons dogs get bored are:

  • Social deprivation.
  • Lack of physical exercise.
  • Not enough mental stimulation. 
  • Lack of training, which leads to disobedience as well.

Other signs of boredom:

  • Barking at you.
  • Jumping at you.
  • Destruction of belongings.
  • Making a mess, i.e. digging in the backyard, unrolling toilet paper, etc.

Look closely as that little arm-grabbing could be a “Come on!” from your dog.

#9: They’re hungry

This may be accompanied by sad eyes and slight whimpering…

They grab your arm, aiming to take you to where you usually feed them.

This is your dog telling you that they’re hungry.

“But I already fed them…”

If that’s the case, you can ignore their request. 

Not be cruel or anything, but so that they do not develop a habit of begging.

But just to be sure, keep track if you feed them the right amount of food that they need per day.

How much should a dog eat per day?

According to experts, you should feed your dogs twice a day at an 8-12 hour interval. 

However, the right amount for your dog depends on numerous things. Consider their:

  • Age.
  • Size.
  • Breed.
  • Level of activity.
  • General well-being and health. 

Feeding your dog the proper amount of food is not the only way. You have to feed your dog the right food, too.

Your dog needs functional foods. Which provides vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. 

Feeding your dog functional foods can:

  • Keep a healthy stomach.
  • Improve their brain functions.
  • Reduce the risk of developing sickness. 

What to do when your dog grabs your arm? 3 tips

#1: Check if they’re okay

I mentioned in reason #2 that arm-grabbing may suggest an injury. Or that your dog is not feeling their best…

So, check if your pup is okay.

Execute the general home check-up. 

For more specific details, VCA tells us what to look out for during a home check-up:

Note their heartbeat 

A dog’s normal heart rate is within 70 and 120 beats per minute.

Check your dog’s nose

Whether it is runny, dry, or sores are present. Any of the three can indicate something.

Give them a massage 

And feel under their jaw, around their chest, back, and belly. Massage their legs and groin as well. Swellings could be enlarged lymph nodes, which means your dog’s body is fighting bacteria or viruses.

Inspect for fleas or ticks

Fleas and ticks are parasites that cause your dogs discomfort. An infestation could also lead to blood parasite-related diseases.

Look into their eyes

If it’s moist and their pupils are the right size. The sclera (white part) of their eyes should be white and not red. There should be no discharge around their eyes and no swelling of the eyelids. Observe if they can easily close and open their eyes, too.

Examine their ears

If there are any scratches or swelling inside. Examine their ear canals if there is redness and wax buildup. Lastly, smell your dog’s ear. If it smells funny, that likely indicates a bacterial infection.

Look out for these other signs of injury or disease on dogs:

  • Vomiting.
  • Weight loss.
  • Low energy.
  • Low appetite. 
  • Uncontrolled thirst.
  • Red and teary eyes.
  • Change in their coat – look for roughness, dryness, or skin patches.

If your dog shows these signs and symptoms, take them to the vet immediately:

  • Seizure.
  • Bloody stool.
  • Swollen areas.
  • Open and infected wound.
  • Nose, mouth, and ears bleeding.
  • Constant vomiting, especially with blood.
  • If they’re whining or shaking due to extreme pain.

#2: Ignore them

To prevent and stop the behavior, you must not encourage it.

With that, it’s best to sometimes just ignore the behavior…

It won’t hurt if you also yelp a little when they grab you.

They’d get used to the fact that this is something you don’t want them to do

This also lessens their dependency on you.

Since most of the reasons suggest that they want something…May it be affection or food.

By ignoring them sometimes, they’d know that they can’t always get what they want with you.

Lastly, you can…

#3: Redirect their behavior

Redirect their behavior.

If you can’t attend to their need for affection at this time, you can provide them a treat. 

Or, moreover, serve this treat in an interactive toy.

Their energy will be redirected to this toy. 

Dogs are motivated by food, that’s why it’s easy to distract them with such. 

There are many available interactive dog toys online. We found a few for your little pooch:

  • AFP Automatic Dog Ball Launcher – introduce your pup to their new playmate…a machine! That launches balls for them to fetch.
  • Babble Ball – Keep them occupied and curious! This ball produces many animal sounds that will get your dog’s head tilting. 
  • Idepet Dog Toy Ball – A ball that your dog can munch on with or without treats. There are spaces to put on the kibble that will make your dog occupied. 

People also ask:

Why does my dog grab my arm with his mouth?

Your dog grabs your arm with his mouth because they want to play. As a result, they bite you gently.

It all lies in body language. Other reasons include boredom and wanting affection. 

Your dog could also be communicating that they’re feeling pain somewhere. 

It’s best to do your own home check-up to confirm whether this is the case… Especially if they persistently grab your arm out of nowhere. (Find detailed ways in reason #2)

Another reason for this behavior is that your dog’s under-stimulated. They grab your arm to tell you they’re bored and want you to help them.

Your dog’s simply hoping for you to play with them. Or simply provide them something to play with.

Why does my dog grab my arm with his paws?

Your dog grabs your arm with his paws because he can be feeling playful or because they don’t want you to leave them alone at home. It can also mean that your dog’s hungry, and they’re asking you to feed them. 

If your dog’s feeling playful, that arm-grabbing hopes to drag you to the backyard. Or somewhere else that you two normally play in.

Your furbaby might also be impatiently asking for affection. They want you to pet them or give them back rubs.

Additionally, this instance is likely accompanied by hand biting and hyperactivity. 

Lastly, it can also mean that your dog is hungry. 

It may appear that you have forgotten its feeding time, and so they grab you in hopes to take you to the kitchen. 

If you already fed your dog and they’re still feeling hungry, check if you’re giving them the proper amount of food per day.

The amount of food per day depends on the dog’s size, age, general well-being, and health. 

If you are feeding your dog the right amount, ignore them. 

Last but not least, this may be attention-seeking behavior that doesn’t need to be rewarded at all…