Why Do Golden Retrievers Put Their Paw on You?

Golden retrievers are energetic and social dogs, and often communicate their needs through sounds and body language.

As a golden retriever owner, you probably know a lot of the ways your golden tries to communicate with you, but there may be some behaviors you haven’t quite decided yet.

Why do golden retrievers put their paw on you? Golden retrievers are known for doing a lot of their communication through body language, and when they put their paw on you, it most likely means they want something from you. Most often, they want your attention.

There are some different reasons golden retrievers might put their paw on you, and we’ve researched some of the most common for you.

Not only that, but we’re going to walk you through how to determine which reason your golden is putting their paw on you and when you may want to consider controlling their paw habit. Let’s check it out!

Why Golden Retrievers Put Their Paw on You

If you’ve experienced a golden retriever putting their paw on you, you may think it’s a funny quirk and brush it off. But did you consider there might be a reason for a golden retriever putting their paw on you? As it turns out, there are several.

The main reason golden retrievers put their paw on you is that they want something – often just your attention. However, we can break it down more than that.

We’ve got a breakdown of some of the main reasons golden retrievers may put their paws on you to help you decipher why your pooch is using their paw to communicate – and if you may need to consider putting a stop to the behavior.

Reasons for Golden Retriever “Pawing”

Wanting to be petted, wishing for the food you have, even trying to show you’re in control – did you ever think these were some of the possible reasons behind your golden retriever “pawing” you? They are, and there are even more reasons than that.

Let’s find out just what golden retrievers – the socialites of the dog world – might be trying to get across with their paws.

An Overview

List lovers, this one’s for you! Here’s an overview of some of the reasons for the golden retriever “pawing.” Don’t worry–we’ll go into them in more depth.

  • They want attention
  • They want to be petted
  • They want to go outside
  • They want your help with something (i.e., their toy is stuck somewhere)
  • You have something they want (a toy or your food)
  • They want to apologize for something they did
  • They want to show you’re in charge
  • They want to show they’re in charge

Let’s take a closer look at some of the reasons for the golden retriever “pawing.”

Reason #1: They Want Attention

As we mentioned, golden retrievers are a very social breed. They desire social interaction and attention frequently, and without it, they can even become bored or turn to undesirable behaviors.

A golden retriever may be putting their paw on you simply because they want attention. When he puts his paw on you, you’ll likely notice – therefore, your dog has turned your attention away from whatever you were doing and get it redirected toward him.

What kind of attention does the golden want, though? It may be more than just getting your attention in general.

Reason #2: They Want to Be Petted

It’s no secret that golden retrievers love to be petted. When their social nature and desire to be loved come together, it can result in just simply wanting some affection and pets.

If a golden retriever puts its paw on you, it may be because they want to be petted. It’s common to notice this behavior after you’ve been working for a while, or when you’ve been busy with other tasks.

Reason #3: They Want to Go Outside

Golden retrievers love being able to go outside – not only because it’s likely where they go to the bathroom, but also because they love to have the space to run around, play, and get energy out.

Goldens are energetic, and typically need at least an hour or two of exercise and play every day to stay content.

Golden retrievers sometimes put their paw on you when they want to go outside. This might be because they have to go to the bathroom (in which case you should probably adhere to the “pawing”), but this also might be because they’re feeling antsy and need to go expel some energy.

Consider if the golden retriever has been to the bathroom recently, or if he or she has been able to exercise that day. Putting a paw on you could be a signal that the great outdoors are wanted!

Reason #4: They Want Your Help With Something

You likely know that dogs count on people to do just about everything for them – get them the necessities, feed them, water them, allow them to play, give them toys – the list goes on and on.

A golden retriever might be “pawing” you because they want your assistance with something.

The golden might want some help fetching a toy that’s been stuck somewhere, or they may want you to fill up their food bowl.

Dogs in general, and especially golden retrievers, are often more intelligent than we give them credit for. They may have a problem that they know they can’t solve, but that you can help with – so they extend a paw to ask for help.

Reason #5: You Have Something They Want

Golden retrievers have wanted and desire just like we do. Just think of the “puppy eyes” dogs may give to people with some tasty food; they’re probably trying to get some for themselves!

If a golden retriever is putting its paw on you, it might be because you have something they want, like some food, a toy, or even a blanket.

Consider what you’ve got around you when a golden retriever puts its paw on you. Are you eating? Are you near a toy they can’t access? The golden might be trying to get your attention so that you can give them something they want. Whether you give in is up to you, of course!

Reason #6: They Want to Apologize for Something They Did

Dogs certainly don’t apologize, right? They do! All kinds of dog breeds have been known to apologize when they realize they’ve done something they shouldn’t have.

The New York Post notes that this has to do with dogs’ long-ago evolution from wolves. Wolves, and young wolves, especially, are known to cower or bow when they have done something wrong. Modern dogs have picked up that same behavior, and some have even modified it and made it their own.

A golden retriever might be putting their paw on you if they’re trying to apologize for something they did wrong.

The body language that comes along with the “pawing” is often what indicates that the golden retriever is trying to apologize to you.

The paw on you is often accompanied by a cowed head, a tail between the legs, and a generally submissive stance. The golden might also be averting your eye contact.

“But I don’t think the golden retriever did anything wrong! They just came over to me and put a paw on me.” Check around the house or the area around you if a golden retriever exhibits behavior like he or she is apologizing – you may just not have figured out what they did wrong yet.

Often, this turns out to be an accident inside or an object chewed up that shouldn’t be.

Reason #7: They Want to Show You That You’re In Charge

Goldens have been known to put a paw on someone, most often their owners, to show that the owner is in charge.

Golden retrievers, like a lot of other dogs, are pack-oriented. They very much identify with their family order, and often, they like to express that they know their place in the family order.

Putting a paw on you could be a display from the golden retriever that they consider you the alpha of the pack, or that you’re the one in charge.

Reason #8: They Want to Show You That They’re in Charge

This reason is one of the first things golden retriever owners may think when their golden puts a paw on them. Could it be a sign of dominance? Is it a bad thing?

A golden retriever putting a paw on you actually can be a display of dominance, and they might be trying to convey to you that they think they are in charge.

The golden might think that by putting their paw on you, they’ve got control over you. Sometimes, this can be concerning; if you’re the golden’s owner, you want them to know that you’re the one in charge.

Deciphering Just Why a Golden Retriever Put Its Paw on You

As you can see, there are quite a few reasons that a golden retriever might put its paw on you. However, with all the different reasons, it can be hard to narrow down just which reason a golden retriever is “pawing” you for.

If a golden retriever puts its paw on you and you want to figure out which reason it could be attributed to, there are some things you can do to narrow it down.

Consider the Rest of the Environment

The environment you and the golden retriever are in can tell you a lot about what the golden is trying to convey to you with a paw.

If a golden retriever puts its paw on you, consider the environment and your surroundings. Have you been working for most of the day, or been unable to pay some close attention to the golden?

Do you have food around you, or have you been eating recently? Are your golden’s toys in all the usual places – or are some missing?

Consider some of these factors, as they can tell you just what the golden retriever wants when they “paw” you.

For example, the golden might want attention and pets if you’ve been gone most of the day; he or she might want some of the food you’ve got; you may need to fetch a favorite toy for the golden if it’s nowhere to be found.

Consider the Golden’s Other Body Language

As we previously mentioned, the other body language conveyed by a golden retriever in addition to putting a paw on, you can tell you just what he or she is trying to communicate.

Try to consider some of the other obvious signs of the golden’s body language (besides that “pawing.”)

Does the golden retriever put a paw on you along with a bowed head and a tucked tail? What about some big “puppy eyes” when you have a snack?

Has the golden recently gone to the bathroom, or has he or she been indicating like it might be time to go? Is the golden acting antsy or overly energetic?

These body language signs along with a paw on you can tell you things like if the golden retriever is apologizing, wants something you have, needs to go to the bathroom or needs to expel some energy.

Is It Bad When Golden Retrievers Puts Their Paw on You?

When golden retrievers “paw” you, it can often be quirky and pretty cute. However, some owners often wonder if the golden retrievers’ paw habits are a bad thing.

Golden retrievers putting their paws on you isn’t necessarily always bad, but there are some times when it can become concerning, and you may want to consider controlling the golden’s “pawing” habits.

When “Pawing” Can Be a Bad Thing

When can putting a paw on you be wrong? When might you want to consider controlling these habits or putting a stop to them? Let’s take a look.

The Golden Retriever “Paws” You Until It Gets What It Wants

If a golden retriever has been putting a paw on you to get assistance or get something else it wants, like food, pets, toys, or just attention in general, it can sometimes be nice; after all, you can give your dog what he or she wants!

However, this habit can become undesirable. If a golden retriever has learned it can get what it wants from you by putting a paw on you and doesn’t stop until it gets what it wants, you probably want to consider putting a stop to the behavior.

This goes along with dominance. As we mentioned, it’s never a good thing when a dog thinks he or she is the boss, and the owner isn’t. To make sure the golden retriever is behaving properly, you’ll want to make sure that he or she knows you’re in charge, not the other way around.

The Golden Retriever’s “Pawing” Has Hurt Someone

When golden retrievers put their paw on someone, it’s doubtful that he or she means to hurt someone. Unfortunately, that just happened.

It’s no secret that golden retrievers have claws, and when those and the rest of their paws aren’t properly maintained, they can become scratchy. So, when a golden retriever puts its paw on someone, it can result in painful scratches and cuts.

If the golden retriever has “pawed” you or someone else, and it’s resulted in some scratches or cuts or other painful marks, you’ll want to consider controlling this behavior from the golden.

You’ll also want to make sure the golden retriever’s paws are properly maintained so that in the case they do paw someone, it’s less likely that it can hurt them. After all, we love our furry friends, but we don’t want to be hurt by them!

The Golden Retriever Might Start Doing it to Others and Strangers

We love our golden retrievers, and golden retrievers love us right back. They also love others, even strangers, too! Goldens are so social that it’s very common for them to approach other people or other dogs they aren’t familiar with.

When a golden retriever has developed the habit of putting their paws on someone, they may begin doing it to others, including strangers.

Not only can this be an annoyance, but it can also be dangerous; the golden may unintentionally hurt someone else, or someone may accidentally hurt the golden by trying to get the paw off them.

This action can also be uncomfortable for those who aren’t familiar with dogs or are scared of dogs. Having a friendly dog approach them is one thing, but if the dog is putting a paw on them, it can be harmful.

Final Thoughts

Golden retrievers are a breed that’s often known for communicating by putting their paws on people. Although it can seem random, there’s a method behind the madness when it comes to golden retriever “pawing.”

Goldens may put their paws on someone for many reasons; they may want something like attention, food, or a toy, or they might want to go outside. They might even be apologizing for something they did wrong!

It’s essential to keep an eye on the “pawing” habits of golden retrievers because although it can be cute and quirky, it can also be harmful and undesirable.

Knowing just what a golden retriever wants from you when it “paws” you and knowing when to control the behavior is only another part of having and loving a golden retriever!

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