Wondering why your dog wraps his paws around your arm, leg or neck?
Here you’ll find out the truth.
Quickly read further to discover:
- How leg-wrapping can be a precursor to humping.
- 13 true reasons why your dog wraps his paws around your arm, leg, or neck.
- What your dog wants to communicate to you by wrapping his paws around you.
- And more…
Table of contents
- Why does my dog wrap his paws around me?
- 13 reasons why your dog wraps his paws around you
- #1: He wants affection
- #2: He wants to play
- #3: He feels physical discomfort
- #4: He wants food
- #5: He doesn’t want you to leave
- #6: Stress and other conditions
- #7: He is scared
- #8: He wants attention
- #9: He is sleepy but restless at the same time
- #10: He wants you to give him a lift
- #11: He wants you to carry him
- #12: He wants to comfort you
- #13: He wants to feel safe/secure
- Bonus: It’s a precursor to humping
Why does my dog wrap his paws around me?
Your dog wraps his paws around your arms and legs for attention and affection. He would love for you to pet him, play with him, and not ignore him. Other factors include: physical discomfort, stress, anxiety and fear.
13 reasons why your dog wraps his paws around you
#1: He wants affection
Dogs ‘talk’ with humans through barking and body language. They use their paws to communicate their needs.
When they wrap their paws around you, they are simply being affectionate. Or they want affection from you.
Dogs are like humans when it comes to affection. They want it from the people who care about them and they care about.
Dogs would touch you because they want to be touched and petted.
There are dogs that are satisfied when you put your hand on their paws. They respond by smiling with their tongue hanging out.
However, there are also dogs that don’t like their paws being touched. That’s because the tops of the paws are one of the most sensitive parts of their body.
But the spaces between the paw pads are even more sensitive. That’s why dogs pull their paws away from you when you touch them.
Note: If they don’t like their paws to be touched, respect it.
Check out next: 15 reasons why your dog always touches you
#2: He wants to play
Dogs are crazy about play. They spend most of the day playing with humans, with other canines, or by themselves.
Play is so important because it can reinforce a dog’s behavior.
In addition, engaging in play can help to strengthen their bond. With play, dogs become motivated to pay attention to their humans and work with them.
So when your dog wraps his paws around you, he could be telling you,
‘Play with me, Mom/Dad.’
You might also enjoy: Why does my dog hit me with its paw?
#3: He feels physical discomfort
How easy life can be if only dogs could talk. And then humans can easily know how they feel.
But dogs can only use whatever means they know to communicate with humans.
Like wrapping their paws around you. They could be telling you they’re feeling physical discomfort.
It could be they’re feeling too hot or too cold. Or they have a hard time sleeping.
Finding out exactly what’s bothering them is equally challenging.
So look into their body language and behavior for additional cues.
#4: He wants food
You’ve probably experienced being busy doing something and then your dog approaches, right?
He wraps his paws around your leg or arm as if to tell you something.
It’s dinner time!
If you’ll notice from your own dog, they are perennially hungry. I mean, how can they ask for a meal when they had one a few moments ago?
That’s right – they would paw you until they get what they want.
Sometimes they resort to a more straightforward approach. Such as bringing their food bowl to you to let you know that they want food.
If you have a routine for mealtimes, then it’s probably why he does this. Because it’s time that you feed him.
If not, then he’s probably scoring some treats.
Caution: Avoid overfeeding your dog. Obesity is a serious problem among dogs.
#5: He doesn’t want you to leave
It could happen while you’re playing with your dog. Or you have to leave for work.
In which case your dog suddenly jumps up and wraps his paws around your arms or legs.
He’s telling you not to leave him.
Your dog could be going through separation anxiety. It refers to the extreme distress that a dog experiences when he is separated from his owner.
As a result, they engage in bad behaviors. Some of which are excessive barking and destroying things when left alone.
According to this research, the more likely to develop bad behaviors are:
- Male dogs.
- Dogs that were found or came from shelters.
- Dogs separated from the litter before they were 60 days old.
You might also want to read: 9 reasons for excessive dog barking
#6: Stress and other conditions
Your dog uses his paw to tell you that something is wrong. Or if he is stressed or feeling down.
So it’s important to look at his paw activity to determine his mental health.
Has he been wrapping his paws around your leg, accompanied with whines? It could be that he’s going through a stressful time.
Aside from wrapping his paws around you, he could resort to barking or jumping at you.
In addition to stress, he could be feeling anxious and insecure.
This could be because of thunder and lightning or the sound of a siren. In which case they come running to you and wrapping their paws around your arm or leg.
#7: He is scared
A scared dog shows many signs. Wrapping his paws around you is one of them.
A dog owner related how her dog would impatiently wrap his paws around her legs. It was like he was telling her to pick him up quickly.
You could tell your dog is scared by the following:
- Licking of lips.
- Flattened ears.
- Avoiding eye contact.
Aside from these, he usually has his tail tucked between his legs.
You’ll also notice how he whines, paces, or becomes clingy.
Check out next: Why is my dog so clingy all of a sudden?
#8: He wants attention
Everybody seeks attention. Even your pooch.
And he would do that by wrapping his paws around you.
Just like what this doggo did:
This is the likely scenario if you have not been giving him much attention. Or if he learned that pawing you makes you give him attention.
And if you ignore him, it will escalate to face-licking or jumping. Or he would whine and bother you while you’re busy.
And when he feels ignored, the more he’ll try to get your attention.
Caution: To avoid developing bad behavior, give your dog attention throughout the day. But don’t use it as a reward when he behaves in a way you don’t like.
Don’t miss out on: Why does my dog get in my face?
#9: He is sleepy but restless at the same time
You’ve probably experienced being dead tired but couldn’t sleep.
It could be that your mind was still wide awake. Or there were noises or worries that bothered you.
This is the same for dogs. There are times when they are very sleepy but can’t sleep.
This is exactly what one dog owner shared on a forum about his dog. His dog would wrap her paws around his leg during the times she couldn’t sleep.
He said the usual reason was his 2 older dogs. Apparently, the other dogs were still playing and disturbing the other one.
You might also like: 7 reasons why your dog is so hyper at night
#10: He wants you to give him a lift
He could be wrapping his paws around you because he wanted a lift.
This is especially true for small dogs. Let’s say he wanted to go somewhere that is too high for him to reach.
Like a table. Or a car seat.
#11: He wants you to carry him
Some dogs get tired easily.
Like after a long walk, or you are in a big mall. Your dog can get easily tired of walking.
He’s going to wrap his paws around your leg, asking to be carried home.
Or maybe he just wants you to carry him to avoid contact with dogs that could be bothering him.
This is the case with Lissa sometimes. She tends to paw at me or wrap her paws around me.
It happens when she wants me to pick her up (usually in an attempt to avoid overly-energetic dogs who want to engage with her). If that doesn’t do the trick, she reverts to barking. And boy, can she bark loud!
Note: Don’t force your dog to walk if he’s tired already. If you’re in a mall and you have a small dog, it’s useful to bring a dog carrier.
#12: He wants to comfort you
Dogs are smarter than people give them credit for.
Take, for example, when you’re going through a difficult time.
Dogs seem to know that you’re upset. Or lonely.
They get cues from your body language, scent and facial expressions. But a study has found out that dogs can also determine human emotions using their ears.
The study made use of 6 human emotional vocalizations:
- Anger (growls).
- Fear (screams).
- Sadness (sobs).
- Disgust (retches).
- Happiness (laughs).
- Surprise (‘oh’ vocalizations).
The results showed the following results:
- Dogs use their right brain hemisphere to process fear and sadness vocalizations.
- Dogs use their left brain hemisphere in response to happiness vocalizations.
This is why your dog knows something is wrong if he hears you crying. His brain processes your crying vocalization as negative. And he responds by wrapping his paws around you to make you feel better.
You might also want to check out: 13 reasons why your dog is suddenly sad
#13: He wants to feel safe/secure
A sudden loud sound. The clap of thunder or the flash of lightning.
These would have your dog running somewhere to hide. Or he would run to you and wrap his paws around you.
If this is the case, your dog wants to feel safe or secure.
Some dog owners would attest to this. This dog owner on a forum shared about his foster dog that was traumatized before.
She loved to hug him because it made her feel secure.
Dogs do this because you are his person. He would rather hold you than have you hold him as this could ease his stress.
Bonus: It’s a precursor to humping
Your dog wraps his paws around your leg because he wants to hump your leg.
Humping, also called mounting, is common in dogs. It’s usually a cause for embarrassment among dog owners.
While it is sexual in nature for intact dogs under 1 year old, there are other reasons for humping.
The American Kennel Club says that dogs hump because of:
- Acting out.
- Signs of medical problems.
Brief humping moments are part of play. The problem arises when the dogs being mounted on don’t like it.
The key here is to deal with the problem early on before it becomes a habit.
You can achieve this by redirecting the behavior as soon as the dog humps. This is to let them know that the behavior is unacceptable.
In addition, train them to sit, stay or lie down and reward them accordingly.
Further reading: 15 reasons why your dog humps you