Why does my dog wrap his paws around my arm? Like a kid, this is your pet’s way of getting your attention or begging for something it wants. On the other hand, this behavior might indicate that your dog is scared or is about to hump you. It’s not a cause of concern most of the time, but brushing up with training will help prevent the behavior from progressing.
Reasons why your dog hugs your arm
For someone with an affectionate dog, this behavior doesn’t come as a surprise to me. Sherlock would always do it once I arrive from work. But if this is your dog’s first time doing it to you, the following reasons might explain why:
1. Your dog wants attention.
One of the main reasons why dogs wrap their paws around their owners’ arms is affection. After a long day of not seeing me, Sherlock will wrap his paws around me to beg for some pets. And since he gets what he wants, my dog keeps doing it every time I come home.
Unless this behavior is becoming annoying, I don’t see any problem with it. Besides, your dog deserves some love and affection after not seeing you for hours.
Still, you should set limits to prevent the behavior from being excessive.
2. Your dog comforts you.
Dogs are smarter than what we thought them to be. They can detect changes in your behavior or emotions, like crying or sobbing. When your dog detects that you’re upset, it will try to comfort you by bringing ‘gifts’ like socks, leaves, or branches. Sometimes, the dog will hug your arm, mimicking the way you comfort him when he’s upset.
Moreover, dogs take cues from our scent, body language, and sound. In fact, a study in 2018 showed that dogs use their brain’s left hemisphere to respond to happy human vocalizations. Meanwhile, they use the right hemisphere to identify sad vocalizations. This just proves that dogs have the ability to know if you’re upset or not.
3. Your dog is uncomfortable or scared.
If you’re not distressed, the situation might be the other way around. The arm hugging habit of your dog might be a sign that the pooch is anxious, frightened, or physically uncomfortable.
This can happen during a thunderstorm or when there’s a loud sound outdoors like sirens and construction work. Taking your dog to a calmer spot will help appease its nervous mind.
Another possible scenario is that your dog is physically uncomfortable. Wrapping its paws around your arm might be a call for help. If it’s accompanied by whimpering and crying, it’s best to get the pooch checked by the vet.
4. Your dog wants to play.
Is your dog wagging its tail while wrapping its paws around your arms? This could be your pet’s way to initiate playtime. The pooch might even carry a toy on his mouth as a way of saying ‘let’s play!’.
Whether you should give in or not depends on the situation. Is your dog being rough? If so, it’s best to avoid reinforcing the behavior. I also suggest scheduling playtime so your dog will not beg by wrapping its paws around your arms.
5. Your dog doesn’t want you to leave.
One time, I was about to stand up from the couch when Sherlock suddenly wrapped his paws around me. We were all cozied up and sharing a blanket.
This could also happen to your dog whenever you have to go to work and leave the house. Take note that this behavior can be a tell-tale sign of separation anxiety.
I don’t recommend reinforcing this behavior. You should teach your dog to wait and sit. Obedience training will also go a long way here.
6. Your dog is hungry.
Before you jump to conclusions, ask yourself first: is it time for my dog’s meal? If so, the arm-hugging and begging is your dog saying, “I’m hungry, give me some food, hooman!”
However, highly food-driven canines would often beg for food outside their meal hours. Treats will come in handy here, but you should never overindulge them. Also, it’s not ideal to give treats to your dog whenever it hugs your arm. Later on, your dog will realize that wrapping its paws around your arms is a rewarded behavior.
7. Your dog wants to be carried.
If your dog is used to being carried like a baby, it will try to solicit it by wrapping its paws around your arm.
This can happen when the two of you are in the mall or walking around the neighborhood. The pooch probably got too tired. Also, there might be another dog around that scares your pooch. If your dog is already tired, don’t force it to walk. It’s best to carry the pooch to prevent overheating.
The problem here is if you have a large and energetic dog.
8. Your dog is about to hump you.
Is your dog hugging your arms? Wait until it starts humping. Take note that humping isn’t always sexual, but most of the time, it is.
Another cause of humping is overexcitement, imposing dominance, or a medical problem. If your pooch is neutered and there’s no female canine around, it’s unlikely to be sexual since dogs don’t go in heat.
You should do something about the humping behavior because your dog can do it to visitors. It will be embarrassing, especially if you have a large canine.
Why does my dog wrap his paws around my legs?
Your dog hugs your legs for the same reason it will wrap its paws around your arms. It might be scared, anxious, excited, or begging for your affection. However, the most notorious when it comes to leg hugging is humping.
Dogs will also hug the legs of their owners who are about to exit the door. Your pooch doesn’t want you to go and will even cling to your legs as you walk.
Moreover, your dog might be trying to be at eye level with you. Try sitting and see what your dog will do. Most of the time, it’s an attention-seeking behavior.
Should I worry if my dog always wraps its paws on me?
Most of the time, this behavior isn’t serious. Usually, it’s a learned habit based on what your dog sees and what it gets from wrapping its paws on you.
Still, you should consider what happened before your dog hugged your arms. Was there a loud sound that startled your dog? Did you just arrive at work?
These circumstances will determine whether you should be alarmed or not. If your dog is crying with a tucked tail, it might be a sign of separation anxiety. You have to train your dog to curb this negative behavior.
Why does my dog want me to hold his paw?
Giving paw can be a natural or trained habit of your dog. Most of the time, your dog will demand you to hold its paw for attention. It’s also your dog’s way to get pets and hugs.
Although holding hands with your dog is cute, it can be a dangerous behavior if reinforced excessively. They may try to do it to other people, which may seem like pawing.
Also, rewarding the pawing habit all the time will result in negative behavior. Your pooch will soon become a demanding and impatient canine. You wouldn’t want this to happen, especially if you’re working from home.
Why does my dog wrap his paws around my arm? It’s usually dogs’ way of getting their owners’ attention. As much as it’s a harmless habit at first, you shouldn’t reinforce it. Over time, this might lead to an attention-hungry canine. When that happens, you will have to re-train your dog to correct the behavior.
Is your dog wrapping its paws around you? What did you do about it? Let us know below!