Your dog sure has a way of getting what he wants. By giving you those innocent puppy dog eyes and slightly lifting up his paw, he knows he can melt your heart and get exactly what he wants. Extending his paw towards you is often a friendly gesture, just be wary of signs of dominance or injury.
I Need Attention
You spend a lot of time away from home, between work, taking night classes, going out with friends and just running errands. So you may notice when you get home, your energetic pal seems to stalk you. He follows you from room to room, crawls between your legs and gets right in front of you, tilts his head and puts his paw up -- he’s begging for attention. In his eyes, you’re the best friend he could ask for and he just wants to show you some love. Reach down, pat him on the head and let him know how much he means to you, too.
You may not realize it, but you’re part of your dog’s pack. So naturally, he wants to socialize with you, his pack member and leader. When your pup sits perfectly in front of you with his behind shaking against the ground and paw extended towards you, he wants you to go play with him. Grab the ball, take a few moments and play with your pooch. You’ll wear him down and get out some of his pent-up energy in no time.
I’m the Boss
In some cases, putting that paw up isn’t a friendly behavior; rather, your dog wants to be the boss. If putting his paw up doesn’t get your attention, he could start batting at you, nudging you or leaning up against you. These signals often indicate that your canine is attempting to take over your role as the pack leader. He’s showing you that he can control you and get whatever he wants out of you. Walk away if you can and don’t give him any attention until he has all fours planted on the ground. You’re the boss, after all.
Having a Problem
If your rambunctious chum continues to favor one paw and hold it up all the time, he could be telling you that something is wrong -- especially if he lifts it up while walking. A broken nail, or one that is trimmed too close to the quick, can be causing him pain. He could also have a sharp protrusion stuck between his toes, an open wound or blister. Carefully check his paws and look in between his toes. If touching him causes him to yelp in pain, it’s time to take him in for a checkup.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.