Does your dog wrap his paws around your legs, arms, neck, or head?
You’re here with your why’s and we have the answers.
So read on and find out if your dog’s pawing you because they’re:
- Wanting food.
- Seeking attention.
- Feeling discomfort.
- Wishing to comfort you.
- Trying to keep you from leaving.
- And this is just the beginning…
Why does my dog wrap his paws around me?
Dogs wrap their paws around their humans because they want affection, above anything. Most dogs love attention and touching humans is the best way for them to communicate it. Although in some cases, they could be feeling scared or anxious and are trying to get it across.
11 reasons why your dog wraps his paws around you
#1: “Give me attention, human!”
What do dogs and children have in common?
They’re notorious for wanting attention.
Yes, debatable as not all human children or young dogs are this way.
But generally speaking, puppies love the display of affection.
Sometimes, it may even look like they’re trying to grab your hand with their paw. Then when you start petting or rubbing them, you’ll see them wrapping their paws around your arm.
You may also wonder: 7 Strange Reasons Why Your Dog Licks Your Head + 5 Tips
#2: “Now it’s your turn to have some attention, human.”
While dogs, as mentioned above, love being given affection, they love giving it to their humans too.
This is easily determined especially if you’re sad or crying.
“Why?”, you ask?
Because dogs can sense our emotions, based on research conducted by Dr. Kun Guo. They know when you’re happy or angry by combining what they see and hear.
This also applies when you’re agitated and feeling some other type of way.
Dogs have the natural instinct to protect their parents.
So when they sense something’s going on, they need to get involved and find ways to help.
Sometimes, it may even look like they’re trying to grab your hand with their paw at first. Now when you start petting or rubbing them, you’ll see them wrapping their paws around your arm.
Note: Just because your dog touched you with their paw, doesn’t mean they like their paws touched – not all dogs do. If they flinch or growl when you touch their paw, don’t push your luck and let go because you might get nipped.
#3: “It’s playtime!”
Wanting to play with you is another reason why your dog wraps their paws around you.
This activity is a great way to bond and is a vital component in building a stronger foundation with your dog.
It’s our job as humans to build meaningful relationships with our furry best friends.
They dedicate their whole lives to us and love us unconditionally. The purest form of love, if you may.
Now you might be wondering: “How do I initiate playtime with my dog?” or “How important is playtime in dogs?”
An experimental study in 2001 revealed that dogs respond to interspecific play signals.
For example, when you run to or away from your dog, or when you tap your chest, your dog will most likely respond. These are highly effective ways to communicate play intent to your dog.
Some of the many benefits of playing with your dog are as follows:
- Decreases negative separation-related behavior i.e. separation anxiety.
- Develops obedient attentiveness more than before.
- Shapes and influences better relationship outcomes.
#4: “Can I have food?”
If the puppy dog eyes don’t work, tapping you with their paw is the next best thing to do to get what they want.
Might be because they’re bored, or could be because it’s already time to feed them and you forgot.
Regardless, it’s a really cute way to ask. Maybe they even grab their bowl and bring it to you sometimes.
Well, how can you resist? No, scratch that – it’s more, can you resist?
Nah, you can’t. Not unless you have the willpower of Superman.
Caution: It’s okay to spoil your fur baby a little, but control the amount you’re giving him. Obesity can lead to chronic diseases, breathing issues, skin diseases, and even cancer.
Read next: Why does my dog cry in the morning?
#5: “I want to hump you!”
One word: Humping.
This may be new information to you, but your dog pawing on you could possibly mean he wants to hump your leg.
This, and sometimes accompanied by digging into your skin is a precursor to humping a.k.a. mounting.
In dogs under a year old that are unneutered and unspayed, humping is sexual in nature.
But if you have an older dog, humping can be a sign of:
- Lack of socialization.
- A reaction to something that caused excitement.
- Underlying medical issues (such as irritation, infection, or prostate problems in male dogs).
Note: It’s essential to socialize your dog with other dogs and people. Proper socialization teaches them appropriate canine behavior.
Are there other reasons why dogs do it?
Yes, there are. Stress and anxiety. Over-stimulation too.
So it’s best to train your puppy while he’s young. But older dogs can still be trained; it’ll just take longer.
If your dog humps so much that it’s driving you nuts, seek professional help. They offer medications that can help dogs with obsessive-compulsive tendencies.
#6: “I was a bad doggo…”
Your dog lightly taps you with his paw while giving you puppy dog eyes. It happens after he does something bad and you scold him.
He looks guilty. But… is he?
If so, then dogs apologize better than some humans.
It looks like they feel sorry because they give you that look. But do dogs apologize?
There’s no scientific study specifically tackling dogs apologizing. A lot of humans translate these guilty looks as dogs’ means of saying sorry.
Professor Nathan Lents, a molecular biologist, discussed this in 2016. The “apology bow” is something dogs inherited from their ancestors: the wolves.
They do this after any violation that resulted in being punished. But this act has nothing to do with apology or guilt. It’s merely the submissive posture.
Prof Lents further says that: “In a sense, an apology is indeed an expression of submission. ‘You were right; I was wrong.’ Nothing could be more submissive than that.”
Note: It’s hard not to give in right away when your dog is “apologizing,” but it’s important to teach him obedience. Let him know that what he did is wrong and unacceptable. Don’t let it on for too long though, as it may result in psychological problems.
#7: “I’m tired, human. Carry me?”
Out on a walk and your dog suddenly stops to try to get your attention by pawing you?
You bet he’s tired especially if it’s a long walk. It could also be that he’s trying to avoid contact with other dogs that have a much higher energy level.
It’s kind of like when you’re an introvert. And you feel forced to stay with extroverts for hours on end. To say you’re enjoying it would be an overstatement.
But this doesn’t exclusively apply to being out and about.
Are you at home and your dog just wants you to carry him? Does he appear tired? Lethargic?
According to Vets Now, here are the most common reasons for lethargy in dogs:
- Pain and trauma.
- Poisoning (from toxic foods e.g. garlic and onions).
- Anemia (caused by parasites i.e. flea infection or intestinal parasite).
- Infection (parvovirus, distemper, kennel cough and leptospirosis).
- Metabolic diseases (heart and liver problems, diabetes, and hypoglycemia).
Aside from physical discomfort, look into mental disorders as well. Dog depression for one.
Your dog is possibly depressed once he has:
- Become withdrawn and inactive.
- Changed his eating and sleeping habits.
- Stopped participating in things they used to enjoy.
Only you can tell if your dog has changed, so make a conscious effort in knowing them.
Note: Only a professional can tell you what’s truly going on with your dog. So don’t take these signs lightly and seek help right away to avoid greater damage.
Check out also: Why Is My Dog So Calm (All Of A Sudden)? 11 Weird Reasons
#8: “Hmph, I’m jealous!”
Does your pooch whine and paw you when you play and interact with another dog or person?
It’s no surprise that dogs get envious because after all, dogs and humans are very similar.
It’s still unclear if dogs experience jealousy the same way as humans do, a study says. But they react to situations that induce the feeling.
And get this: Puppers even get resentful of “hidden” rivals just from imagining them.
Jealous-like behavior in dogs, according to PetMD, are as follows:
- Being clingy.
- Urinating indoors.
- Demanding attention.
- Crowding your space.
- Doing a trick (to get your attention).
- Leaving the room (your doggo’s mad).
- Growling, hissing, getting into a fight with another dog (if you have other dogs at home).
Now that you know what to look out for, you’re probably wondering where these come from.
Jealousy in dogs stems from feeling insecure.
If you have other dogs or pets in the house, make sure you give every single one of them individual attention.
Avoid favoritism or giving too much attention to one pet vs others, and don’t pet one at the expense of the other.
Keep them from being bored by doing fun activities. Play with them to keep them busy. And don’t forget to cuddle them a ton.
Tip: It’ll be helpful to keep a record of instances where your dog was displaying this behavior. So if it becomes unmanageable, you can share this list with a professional who can help manage your pup.
Further reading: Why does my dog bark when I kiss?
#9: “Human, you’re rubbing the wrong spot!”
This is based on firsthand experience.
Whenever I come up to play with my dog, he’ll sit and excitedly wag his tail as he watches me approaching.
He’ll give me tons of licks in the face before anything and once he’s done, he’ll roll over with his belly exposed. So of course, it’s time for belly rubs!
Now as I rub his belly, he would just randomly wrap his paws around my hand and move it elsewhere.
I’d still be continually rubbing him, so when he stops dragging my hand where he wants, I know that’s the spot.
So it has come to my conclusion that dogs wrap their paws around our hands, in particular, to direct us to spots.
The very spots that they want and need some lovin’.
So remember these spots and your dog will surely love you more than they already do if that’s even possible.
#10: “This is stressing me out – I’m scared!”
“What was THAT?”
That’s your dog to loud startling sounds like thunder, fireworks, or sirens.
Sudden noises stress dogs out and make them anxious. They don’t know where the sound is coming from so they’re confused.
They then respond in fear because of uncertainty and pawing you is the best way to tell you they’re scared.
Here’s a list of indications that your dog’s experiencing fear or anxiety:
- Flattened ears.
- Trembling, drooling, or panting.
- Hair raised on the back of the neck.
- Tail lowered between the hind legs.
In extreme cases, dogs may get so distressed that they snap at their humans.
Fortunately, fearful and anxious dogs can be rehabilitated. But all this can be avoided in the early pup stages where you start socializing your dog.
Tip: Expose your dog not just to different people and animals, but different places as well. This will teach them not to become fearful of things they don’t know.
#11: “Hey, it’s too high. I can’t reach it.”
Other than being the literal hand that feeds them, we’re also our dog’s instant lifter.
Your dog can’t tell you that the car seat’s too high for him to climb, so he wraps his paw around you until you get the hint.
Or maybe he wants to be placed in a spot that’s too high. Like a rock, if you’re out hiking. Or that perfectly comfy chair that gives a nice view from the window.
This is especially true for smaller dogs.
Well, the only thing you can do is to give the good boy a lift and ask for payment in the form of cuddles or licks afterward.
He’ll surely be more than willing to pay.