A doggie's furry touch is a warm, cozy feeling. When he puts his paws on you, you might interpret the act as an affectionate one. If your dog has a habit of placing both of his paws on you when you're petting him, however, it could actually be a sign of dominance rather than tenderness.
Both Paws on You
If you're serenely petting your pooch only to notice that both of his paws are on you, the action might be a mere blip on your radar. However, within the realm of canine hierarchy, allowing leaders to have plenty of personal space is an indication of the utmost esteem. When your dog is extremely tactile with you, whether constantly pushing his body against you or pawing at you, it usually signifies that he sees himself as being in control of his interactions with you.
Other Dominant Patterns
Your dog's other common behaviors might be useful in helping you determine whether or not his paw-happy actions are a result of dominant feelings. Typical dominant patterns include mounting, growling, snarling, lack of regard for commands, jumping up and down all over household furnishings, and extremely protective behaviors when it comes to toys, food and other prized valuables. Since dominance can lead to aggressive behaviors in dogs, some help from a professional animal trainer is often wise and efficient.
If your dog believes that you're the one running the show, you'll notice that he gives you the alpha treatment -- full respect and obedience of rules and commands. Other ways in which dogs express submissiveness are by licking the faces of their leaders, showing their delicate lower stomach regions, keeping their bodies near the floor and averting eye contact. The odds of a submissive doggie ever placing both of his paws on you as you pet him are pretty low.
A Single Paw
In young puppies and adult doggies alike, pawing using just one paw can sometimes indicate an amicable invitation for playtime rather than dominance. Pawing is a common form of rough play displayed among young puppies, along with pouncing, chasing and other similarly spirited activities. Sometimes, it carries over into adulthood, especially if a puppy was taken away from his mother and littermates prematurely. Pawing can be a curious behavior, too. If your pooch paws at you, it could mean something about you is fascinating -- such as the texture of your sweater, for example.
- The Well-Adjusted Dog; Nicholas H. Dodman
- ASPCA: Canine Body Language
- DogChannel.com: Dominant Dog
- ASPCA: Is Your Dog Dominant?
- Mobile SPCA: Dealing With a Dominant Dog
- University of Wisconsin Steven's Point -Dr. P's Dog Training: Rapport Skills
- Berkeley East Bay Humane Society: Canine Adoption Packet
- Animal Humane Society: Destructive Behavior in Dogs
- The Merck Manual for Pet Health: Puppy Care