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You’re casually standing there in your house or sitting on the couch when suddenly, something furry wraps around you. Looking down, you see your dog hugging your arm or leg!
Dogs do things that are strange to us all the time, but why does your dog wrap their paws around you?
Your dog could be wanting to be pet by you, showing affection, feeling overexcited, or wanting to play. It may also be because you are encouraging the behavior. Unless the behavior is due to a reason like being nervous or separation anxiety, it is usually nothing to be worried about.
These are just a few of the reasons for your dog to wrap their paws around you.
Let’s take a deeper dive into these reasons and other reasons why your dog shows this behavior as well.
Reason 1: Your Dog Wants To Be Pet
Petting our dogs is our way of showing our love for them. Everyone knows dogs like when we pet them and some dogs might even be vocal about how much they love being pet.
If your dog puts their paws around you, it could be a request to reciprocate the physical contact in the form of petting. Another way dogs might try to ask for pets is by laying on their owners!
Petting feels good to your dog not only because it’s done when you show other signs of how much you love them.
Your dog might wrap their paws around you for pets because it causes a positive chemical reaction in their brain. Petting helps your dog produce oxytocin, a hormone also called the “love hormone” due to its association with a strong bond and trust.
Next time your dog wraps their paws around you, think about whether you’ve given your pup a few pats on the head just for being the best dog in the world!
Reason 2: Your Dog Is Comforting You
Dogs have an amazing trait of being able to detect if their owners are happy or sad.
According to this article from the American Kennel Club, by using their senses of seeing and hearing, dogs are able to sense our emotions. They can tell the difference between a laugh and a cry and use this skill to determine how their owners are feeling.
Without realizing it, your body language will generally show your emotions to your pup! Putting your body language and the way you treat your dog together tells them whether or not you might need a little extra love that day.
If you’re feeling a little sad or stressed, your dog might wrap their paws around your arms as a way to comfort you after a stressful day just as if your dog might rub against your legs as a way to console you if you’re feeling a little sad.
Reason 3: Your Dog Wants Attention
Dogs are often compared to children. They both depend on their parents (or paw-rents for pet owners). They both want to play all the time. And they both love getting attention!
Your dog might wrap their paws around you as a way to grab your attention.
But why would they want your attention?
Sometimes dogs may feel like you haven’t spent enough quality time with them. Humans live busy lives so it’s not uncommon for owners to end up not being able to spend as much time with our fur babies as we’d like.
If you think your dog is wrapping their paws around your arm for attention or you’re having difficulties trying to find time to set aside for your pup, incorporating ways of being together during everyday tasks can be beneficial for both you and your pup!
Reason 4: Your Dog Wants Something
There are so many different things that can make our dogs happy!
Relating to your dog wrapping their paws around you for you to pet them, there might be something else that they want. It might be treats, time to play, or a toy.
If you’re holding something or eating a snack while sitting on the couch, it wouldn’t be a surprise if your dog jumps up next to you to ask for a bite.
Every dog is different, so understanding your dog’s favorite things might come in handy when it comes to figuring out what they want. Is it almost dinner time? Chance are, your dog might be wrapping their paws around your arm to remind you that it’s time to eat!
Check out this video of an adorable dog wanting a hug:
Reason 5: Your Dog Is Showing Affection
While some dogs don’t like making eye contact, others have strange ways to show how much love they have for you!
Some dogs also hate hugs, but your dog might wrap their paws around your arm or your leg as their way to pay you back for all the love and care you give to your pup!
Ways to show affection can different not just with each individual dog. They can also differ depending on the breed. What may ways to show affection for German shepherds can be different than affection for pit bulls.
Wrapping their paws around you isn’t the only way your dog can show their affection for you. There are many other ways including going between your legs which is often considered a dog’s equivalent to hugging.
Reason 6: Your Dog Wants To Play
When it comes to playing, there are many benefits for your pup!
If you realize that you haven’t had time to play with your dog one day and they wrap your paws around you, they might be trying to give you a sign that they want to play!
Exercise is one of the biggest benefits to playing with your dog. Not only will it help you stay active, but your dog can also stretch out their muscles.
Without enough exercise, your dog will find other ways to release their built-up energy. Many dogs tend to destroy furniture or get into things they’re not supposed to if they don’t have an outlet to play or run around.
Playing with your dog also strengthens the bond between the two of you. Spending quality time with your fur baby helps them build their trust in you.
Watch out for other signs that could indicate that your dog wants to play besides wrapping their paws around you. Other signs could be bowing or bringing their toys to you.
Reason 7: Your Dog Wants You To Carry Them
Is your dog on the smaller side? Do they normally get lifts to the couch or bed? Maybe you just like bringing them along in your arms?
If you said yes to any of these questions, your dog might be wrapping their paws around you to ask for a lift!
Small dogs can’t reach the same things that bigger dogs can. If your dog needs a little help getting up something like the couch or bed, they might wrap their paws around your leg and hop a little to ask for some help.
While most dogs that are carried tend to be small dogs, some big dogs like to be carried like babies as well!
Watch this video of a larger dog that asks to be carried when they’re a little scared:
It’s important to help your dog work on their fears. If you think your dog is asking to be carried because of an irrational fear, working with a trainer and having patience is the best way to help them conquer their fear.
Reason 8: Your Dog Is About To Hump You
Sometimes, a dog wrapping their paws around your leg might be because they’re are about to hump (also called mount) your leg. Dogs will also do this to beds or other items before they hump them but if you’re the main target of humping behavior then it’s probably you that your dog is putting their paws around.
While this might be embarrassing for you as the owner, humping is a normal act and can mean a bunch of different things for dogs.
According to the American Kennel Club, humping isn’t always a sexual thing. Sometimes, it could be a sign that your dog is overexcited or over-stimulated, stressed, or trying to show dominance.
Humping might also be a sign of infection or other health problems. This is more common for dogs that have not been spayed or neutered.
When it comes to humping, it is important to determine the situation and how your dog might be feeling. If your dog acting energetic, they are probably overexcited. If your dog isn’t acting like their usual self, there might be a health reason behind the behavior.
Reason 9: Your Dog Is Nervous Or Anxious
Another reason your dog could be wrapping their paws around you or your arm is because they are feeling nervous or anxious.
This can tie back to the previous reason of your dog might start humping you because they are stressed.
It is most likely that your dog is wrapping their paws around you because they are stressed if there is something nearby that usually stresses them out. Some examples could be loud noises such as thunder or traffic.
If your dog is feeling stressed, they will most likely show other signs including whining or shaking. They may also begin to pant a lot more or not take any treats from you.
Reason 10: Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety
Connecting to being nervous, your dog might wrap their paws around you because they have separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety is when your dog feels stresses and anxious when you’re not around. They might feel helpless and can’t seem to function without you.
How can you tell if your dog has separation anxiety or is just feeling nervous?
If your dog is just feeling nervous, there is usually a noticeable reason why your dog is feeling that way. Like mentioned before, there might be thunder or loud traffic.
With separation anxiety, there is no other reason they feel scared besides not having you with them all the time. They might be destructive or potty in the house when you’re out of the house or do other things they don’t normally do when you’re there.
With proper training, time, and effort, you can work with your dog to overcome their anxious feelings of being alone.
Reason 11: You’re Encouraging The Behavior
Like many other behaviors, it is possible that your dog wraps their paws around you because you have positively reinforced the behavior.
Positive reinforcement is when a reward is given for a specific behavior. The reward is often a treat. Trainers often use positive reinforcement when training a dog. They give the treat as a reward for following a command.
However, positive reinforcement doesn’t always have to be food or an object. A pat on the head, praise, or simply some attention can be enough of a reward for your pup.
Giving your dog praise or attention when they wrap their paws around you can encourage them to keep doing it more. To prevent yourself from giving them more positive reinforcement, try to act normal. This can help stop motivating your dog to continue the behavior.
Why Does My Dog Hug My Leg?
Hugging your leg and wrapping their paws around your arms might seem like they are different behaviors. However, the reasons for your dog hugging your leg are similar to the reasons listed.
One reason your dog could appear to be hugging your leg is that they’re trying to get you to bend down so they could either lick your face or check out what you’re holding.
Differences such as size and height can make it difficult for smaller dogs to reach your arms. Smaller dogs are easier to carry around so they are more likely to ask for you to carry them by jumping up and hugging your leg.
Hugging your leg versus hugging your arm doesn’t really make a difference, but it all depends on the situation. Try to find out what your dog is trying to get at and you’ll be able to understand your dog a little more!
Should I Be Worried About The Behavior?
Generally, the act of your dog wrapping their paws around you is not something to worry about.
However, if you suspect health issues or constant stress, it is best to visit the vet to find out what could be bothering your pup. The vet will always be there to help you and your dog build a strong relationship and stay healthy so no question is a bad one.
If you think your dog has separation anxiety, trying to train your dog to not be nervous when alone can be beneficial to you and them. Finding something to keep your dog busy while you’re away and gradually increasing the alone time is a great place to start building your dog’s confidence.
Keeping an eye on your dog’s behavior can help your understanding with each other.
Since dog’s can’t speak to us in our languages, we must learn other ways to communicate with them such as watching their actions and understanding the different characteristics of your pup.
The more we understand about our pets, the better life you and your pet can live together experiencing new things!