Understanding Why Your Dog Puts His Paws On Your Shoulders

Is your furry friend demonstrating puzzling behaviors that leave you scratching your head? Are itching to know why your four-legged, tail-wagging companion occasionally places his paws on your shoulder?

Dogs, just like humans, communicate their feelings and intentions through their body language. However, interpreting these signals can be quite tricky as they rely on our intuitive understanding of their behaviors.

The mostly likely reason your dog puts his paws on your shoulders is to get your attention. This is to either receive late, initiate play, or to communicate other feelings.

Why Your Dog Puts His Paws On Your Shoulders

Why Does My Dog Place His Paws on My Shoulders?

Figuring out what your furry friend is trying to convey through their behavior can be quite puzzling, but usually, each action serves a certain purpose. One of such activities is when your four-legged buddy decides to put his paws on your shoulders; it often carries various expressions based on the circumstances.

One of the primary reasons why dogs tend to put their paws on your shoulders is to attract your attention. Being sociable by nature, dogs love interacting with their human companions. So, if you’re preoccupied and your pooch wants your attention, they might put their paws on your shoulders, as if saying, “Hello, look this way!” This behavior is a clear request for your attention.

Alternatively, this action could be your canine’s tactic to display dominance. In the canine kingdom, a higher posture often indicates dominance, and by trying to stand taller than you by putting their paws on your shoulders, they might be attempting to establish control. If you observe this along with other dominance behaviors like unwavering eye contact or forceful pushing, it may be time to consider training interventions or professional help.

Yet, this behavior could simply be your pup’s way of expressing love. Our faithful companions are affectionate beings and find numerous ways to convey their love to us. It may be their peculiar way of saying, “I adore you” or “You’re my most beloved human”. Just like their cuddles or licks, this too is a sign of affection, though not all dogs express their affection similarly.

At times, dogs resort to this behavior when they are feeling scared or anxious, especially in times of thunderstorms, fireworks, or any other loud, unsettling noises. By placing their paws on you, they are seeking comfort and reassurance in those moments.

The breed and training of your dog can also play a part in this behavior. Some dogs are trained to place their paws on humans’ shoulders as part of tricks, whereas certain breeds are naturally more inclined to show this behavior due to their size or personality.

Lastly, your pup may be attempting to initiate play by extending their paws. Playing while standing on their hind legs makes them tall enough to reach your shoulders, essentially extending a playful invitation. This behavior is particularly common among young, energetic dogs and puppies.

It’s essential to remember that dog behaviors vary and are not always communicated in the same manner. By taking into account the situation and observing other behaviors your dog exhibits, you could decipher their intents more accurately, paving the way for a stronger bond with your furry pal.

Interpreting Contexts and Situations

So, why do dogs put their paws on your shoulders? Most of the time, this is just a way your furry friend is trying to bond with you. Dogs are pack animals and their instinct is to use touch to create stronger relationships with others in their group. So when your dog does this, he might be showing that he thinks of you as a part of his family, just like he would if you were another dog in his pack.

Why Dogs Use Paws to Communicate

Dogs, like humans, have their own unique ways to communicate. One primary method that dogs use is body language. Your pet’s paws-on-shoulders behavior can convey different emotions or intentions. For instance, dogs sometimes use their paws to show affection and love, much like humans use hugs. It’s a canine version of a human hug, expressing affection and a sense of closeness.

Learning Your Dog’s Language

When your dog starts acting differently, it can leave you bewildered. What are they trying to say? The secret lies in watching the situation closely. By observing the circumstances, when they act this way, and any other movements or sounds they make, you can start to understand what your four-legged buddy wants to say.

It may seem strange and challenging at first. Yet, observing related behaviors, emotions, and situations can provide great insight into their unique canine language. Understanding your dog’s signals allows you to react appropriately and strengthen the bond you share.

When Your Dog Places Paws on Your Shoulders

Seeing a dog place its paws on your shoulders can be cute, but you also have to be aware of any issues this may cause. Are there signs indicating any problems? Big dogs often place their paws on their owner’s shoulders as a way to show their love and feel closer. Meanwhile, little dogs typically have to jump or climb to reach this height, which could lead to them getting hurt.

Physical injury risks

Moreover, a dog jumping up to place its paws on your shoulders could also result in physical injury, especially for kids and elderly individuals who might lose balance and fall. Even for a healthy adult, the surprise jump and weight of the dog could lead to minor injuries, scratches, or falls.

Recognizing concerning behavior

It is vital as a dog owner to understand when this behavior crosses the line from being adorable to becoming worrying. Signs to look out for include increased aggression, frequent attempts to place paws on the shoulders even when it seems to cause discomfort to the dog, and any indication that the dog is ignoring your commands and doing as it pleases.


Being able to understand a dog’s body language can initiate a deeper connection, remove behavioral misunderstandings, and predict potential issues before they escalate. Armed with your new understanding of what your dog jesters signifies, notably their ‘paws-on-shoulders’ action, will help enhance your companionship.

It’s crucial to remember, though, each dog is unique in its own right, and interpretations might not apply universally. However, knowledge about their behaviors can act as a valuable tool in uncovering what goes through your dog’s mind.

With this understanding, we can provide them with fitting responses and shared mutual respect, culminating in a bonding experience that is as enlightening as it is enjoyable.


  • Brad

    Hi I'm Brad, the founder of bulldogpapa.com. Having been a vet of 6 years I work alongside our team to provide valuable insight into your dog's health. I have a frenchie myself named Senzu who is my pride and joy!

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