What does it mean when a dog lifts its front paw?

Dogs have a very varied body language that is sometimes not adequately understood by their handlers. However, the key to a harmonious coexistence between people and dogs depends largely on the correct interpretation of gestures and canine language.

In this article from Animal Expert we will explain what it means when a dog raises its front paw , showing you up to 8 different situations in which you can observe it. Each of them will be accompanied by other signs that will indicate more precisely what our dog is trying to say. Keep reading!

You may also be interested: How to teach my dog ​​to paw


  1. The body language of dogs
  2. Common behavior in certain breeds
  3. The hunting sequence
  4. Curiosity for some smell
  5. Invitation to the game
  6. Fear, submission, or discomfort
  7. Punishment
  8. Request for affection for learning
  9. Dog training and skills

The body language of dogs

As with the human being, dogs carry out signals, vocalizations and postures of their own that serve to express their desires and states of mind, in addition to communicating with their fellow humans and with other species, known as ” signs of calm down . ” In this sense, on many occasions people misinterpret the gestures and reactions of their pets, especially when they compare them to human standards, as occurs, for example, when they attribute feelings of guilt to the dog or humanize it.

This not only generates a misrepresentation of what the dog is really trying to express, but it also prevents their human companions from understanding what they want, which in the long run generates problems at home and can lead to stressed and aggressive dogs by not see your basic needs covered.

If you do not understand many of the things your dog does, it is very possible that you have not stopped to analyze its behavior or understand the language in which it addresses you. Among these gestures, one of the ones that generates the most curiosity occurs when dogs raise their front paws . Do you want to know what this means? Here we detail all the possibilities!

1. Common behavior in certain breeds

Some breeds stand out for their surprising ability with their paws, as is the case of the boxer dog , to which many attribute their name precisely to the innate ability to use both front paws in various situations, much more noticeably than in other dog breeds. Another example is the English pointer , which owes its name to the posture it adopts when it smells its prey, raising its front leg. [one]

2. The hunting sequence

When a dog lifts its front paw during an excursion , the meaning is clear: your dog is carrying out the hunting sequence. It is very common that we observe it precisely in hunting dogs , such as beagles, bracos and hounds, however, practically any dog ​​can carry it out.

The hunting sequence has several phases: tracking, stalking, chasing, capturing and killing, however, it is when the dog sniffs its prey when it lifts its paw. Some signs that accompany this characteristic posture are the stretched tail and the raised muzzle. You can also do this when looking for a trace in the environment.

3. Curiosity about some smell

Likewise, it is not necessary to be in the middle of nature for our dog to raise its front paw, it is enough for it to find a special smell or trace in the city for it to carry out this instinctive behavior. Maybe you’re looking for a slice of pizza or trying to follow the urine of a bitch in heat. In this specific case, in addition, the dog can lick the other dog’s urine to obtain more information about him or her.

3. Invitation to the game

Sometimes, we can see how our dog lifts its paw and, right after, it does the posture of invitation to the game , extending the two front paws, together with the lowered head and the raised half tail.

If your dog takes this position, you should know that this is the so-called “game reverence” and he is inviting you to have fun together. You can also dedicate it to other dogs.

Raising the front leg as a synonym for play can also be accompanied by a slight tilt of the head, with which the dog wants to communicate that he is curious about you. It is even possible that their favorite toy is nearby or that you hold it in your hand, so the dog will put a paw on you to indicate that you give it to him, since he wants to play with it.

5. Fear, submission or discomfort

Sometimes when two dogs are related and one of them is especially fearful or submissive , the scariest can lie down and raise his paw as a sign of calm to end the game or to indicate that he is not comfortable. It usually occurs when the other dog is especially active, rough, and even aggressive.

6. Punishment

Another situation that causes the dog to lie down and raise its paw is when it has been punished . It is important to note that this is not a position of submission, as occurs in the relationship between dogs, since dominance in dogs is intraspecific, that is, it occurs only with members of the same species.

In these cases, in addition to showing the belly and lifting one or both legs, the dog will show the ears back, the tail lowers and can even remain motionless. In this case the dog is indicated to us that he is afraid and wants us to stop scolding him .

7. Request for affection for learning

When the dog raises the front paw to place it on your hand or knee while looking at you, it means that he wants you to pay attention or pet him. This gesture with the connotation of wanting caresses can also be accompanied by other signs, such as rubbing the muzzle of your nose against you and even small soft bites on your hand. There are also dogs that, once they have been petted, repeat the gesture of placing the paw on the hand of their human companion to indicate that they want the pampering to continue.

Generally it is due to learning , because the dog learns that by carrying out this behavior humans pay attention to it, in addition, we usually reinforce this gesture with caresses and affection, so the dog continues to manifest it.

8. Dog training and skills

If you have taught your dog to paw , he will likely carry out this command on a regular basis when practicing obedience exercises and canine skills with him or simply seeking a reward for it. It is important that we reinforce the dog only when we have requested the order, not when he wants to, as only in this way will we strengthen dog obedience well

by Abdullah Sam
I’m a teacher, researcher and writer. I write about study subjects to improve the learning of college and university students. I write top Quality study notes Mostly, Tech, Games, Education, And Solutions/Tips and Tricks. I am a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.

Leave a Comment