Why Does My Dog Hit Me When I Pet Him?

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Why Does My Dog Hit Me When I Pet Him?

A frequent question dog owners have is why does my dog hit me with his paw or bumps me with his nose? It’s a common and natural way for him to communicate his needs and wants. These body signals can sometimes mean different things depending on your dog’s breed, but many times they’re learned behaviors from everyday interactions between you and your pooch.

Paw Communication

Your dog’s paws help them do more than get around the house and neighborhood. In fact, they have a language all their own. Once you understand it, it can help build a wonderful bond between you and your pup.

  • Sometimes they simply crave attention and affection. Dogs love being included in human activities and will use their paws to say “Hey, what’s going on?”
  • Many dogs say “I’m sorry” after being reprimanded by placing a paw on your leg, arm, or lap. When they sense by your tone of voice you’re not pleased with them, they’ll gently touch their paw to your body and give you a plaintive look. Who can resist?
  • Pawing is often used to say I’m hungry, hurting, or in need of something.

And sometimes your dog just wants to feel connected to you, using a gentle pawing to say, “I am here” or “I love you.”

Nose Bumps and Pokes

If your dog touches you with his nose, odds are good he is looking for attention and this is the way he learned to get it. Yep, just like a child, they do it because it works! So, if your dog comes up and nudges you with his nose, you might think petting him gets him to stop. In fact, he’s learned the opposite—it gets you to pet, play with, or walk him. Sometimes he wants to be fed.

Many dogs are highly empathic and will often give their humans a gentle brush of the nose if they sense they’re not feeling well or are sad. A firmer nudge could mean, “Hey, get off my blanket!”

If you don’t mind the nose bumps, then it’s good to know why it happens. If you want the behavior to stop, just try changing your typical response and see if it stops when he realizes he’s no longer getting the hoped-for reaction.

Of course, there are times your dog will nudge you just because he feels like it, but usually it’s because he wants you to perform some action or give him attention. Just remember, if you want to completely change the behavior, don’t substitute in another reaction like giving him a bone or toy or he’ll just learn to nose bump you when he wants one of those things!

Speak Your Dog's Language

Understanding your dog’s nonverbal communication and giving the appropriate reaction can help curb annoying behaviors while still encouraging your dog to interact with you. It’s a terrific way to ensure a solid, respectful relationship between you and the canine member of the family.

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