Why Does My Dog Want To Put His Paws On My Shoulders

Dogs have all sorts of ways to show affection, dominance, frustration, and other types of behavior. The best that you can do as a dog lover it’s to try to understand what each one means, so you can better communicate with your pet.

There’s nothing worse than the frustration of wanting to help them but having no clue what they want or are trying to tell you. Your dog may not speak English, but you can try and learn a bit about his language. The body language of dogs. For instance, when your dog jumps on you and tries to put his paws on your shoulders.

So, if you have ever wondered, why does my dog want to put his paws on my shoulders? Your dog wants to put his paws on your shoulders for different reasons depending on the context. It’s usually a sign of affection. An attempt to get near you. Now, there are times that could be an attempt to show dominance. The best way to be sure of which one is to pay attention to the context.

Now, it may be hard for the inexperienced dog owner to be certain whether it’s dominance or affection. That’s why you need to analyze the context. For instance, pay attention to how your dog is acting and what preceded the attempt to put his paws on your shoulder.

So, below you can learn how to differentiate between friendly and unfriendly behavior. Also, you can see how to train your dog to stop the behavior, even if he just wants affection. Not everyone likes when dogs jump on them, so it’s important to teach him that.

You Need To Read Into The Situation

There are two main reasons a dog may put his paws on your shoulders. To show affection or dominance. So, you need to read into the situation to know when it’s one or the other. This is, perhaps, the main challenge when it comes to this. The good news is that it’s not that hard to figure out when you know how to look for the signs.

Now, the important thing to keep in mind is that you need to analyze the context because your response should be completely different for each situation. You can usually figure out by the way that your dog’s body positions itself. Also, when it happens also helps determine the intention of the situation. The reason you should know this is because dominance is bad and affection is not in this case.

So, you can read below how to determine each situation and what to do once you know what you’re dealing with. Dogs are a lot like kids. You need to pay attention to bad behavior, so you can correct it early on.

When It’s Dominance

The theory that a dog putting his paws on your shoulder is a sign of dominance is discarded by many experts. Still, others do believe that this is the case here. When dogs do this as a sign of dominance, they’re usually confrontational as well. They do it while you’re confronting him or when he wants something from you.

Now, when your dog wants to show dominance, he also acts more quietly and sometimes even calm. There isn’t the usual agitation. If this is the case, the best way to respond is to show him that you’re the boss. You do this by being calm and assertive. Firmly order him to sit down. Never react in a way that encourages the behavior.

So, make sure that you correct this behavior every time your dog tries to do it. It’s important to always be calm so you don’t lose control over the situation. Dogs are smart, and if you’re assertive and firm, they’ll know that they aren’t supposed to do it again.

When It’s Affection

Now, when your dog puts his paws on your shoulder while playing with you, or when you get back home from work, it’s likely that he’s just showing affection. If the display excitement and joy while doing it, they’re just showing some love. There’s nothing wrong here, but you might still want him not to do it.

First of all, some people don’t like it, and he’ll certainly do it with visitors. Second of all, he may ruin your clothes with a habit like that. The best that you can do it’s to train him to stop it, which you can learn more about it below.

For now, understand that affection is pretty clear. Your dog will try to lick your face and will clearly show you that he’s happy. When that it’s the case, there’s nothing to worry about.

So, teach him not to do it if you don’t want him to, or leave him be if you don’t care. The good news is that you don’t need to worry about the behavior becoming a problematic one.

Train Him To Understand That It’s Ill-mannered

The first thing that you should do it if you want your dog to stop doing this, is to teach him that it’s not okay to do it. When he tries to put his paws on your shoulders, stop him from doing and tell him no. Then, ignore him until he’s calm and paying attention to you with some focus.

Once you have his focused attention, tell him to sit and calm down. When he reaches the mental state that you want, give him a treat and pet him. This is a reward system that encourages good behavior. In this case, being calm and responsive gets him treats and your affection. When he doesn’t act the way you want, ignore him.

So, train your dog to understand that putting his paws on your shoulders is ill-mannered. With patience and repetition on your part, your dog will learn how to behave when he wants to show affection and how to control his excitement. Give him treats and the system works like a charm. The Rocco & Roxie Gourmet Jerky Dog Treats is the best dog treat for training. Grab a pack here.

See If He Tries To Be Cuddled When You Sit Down

One great way to help you determine whether it’s affection or dominance when you’re in doubt, it’s to sit down and see what your dog does. Here’s what you’re going to do. Take his paws off your shoulder and sit down. If your dog tries to be cuddled when you do it, it’s definitely a sign of affection.

Sometimes, large dogs have no clue how big they are. They still try to jump on your lap as they used to when they were just little puppies. That’s why it’s up to you to let him know that it’s not the case anymore. Now, it’s still good to know that your dog just wants your love.

So, you don’t need to be mad if he tries to be cuddled. But you can decide whether or not you want the behavior since a lot of people are not fond of large, unknown dogs jumping on them and putting their paws on their shoulders. It can be terrifying for them.

Always Pay Attention To Odd Behavior

The secret to determining when a behavior is worrisome in a dog is to know when it’s odd. This means that when your dog does something that he usually doesn’t do, there’s a greater chance that he’s developing behavior that you don’t want to.

For instance, most dogs that eventually become aggressive don’t start out that way. They usually present odd behaviors of dominance, too much energy, and territorialism. Those behaviors later become something that you don’t want to like aggressiveness. That’s why it’s so important to correct it early on since it’s a lot easier to deal with it.

So, make sure to pay attention to any new behavior as soon as it starts. If you feel you need, don’t hesitate in consulting an animal behavioral expert to find out what to do.

If Your Dog Is Too Needy Give Him More Playtime

Now, if you sit down and your dog tries to be cuddled, he may be a little needy. A dog may develop this personality type due to spending many hours alone or just because they’re naturally that way.

When that’s the case, you should give him more playtime to make sure that he’s happy. Needy dogs are more likely to develop depression. So, the best thing that you can do is to set aside 5 minutes to play with him.

Make sure that you get his favorite toys and play with him once he’s calmed down. For this, always use a high-quality pack of toys. The Pacific Pups is the most recommended one. Dogs of all breeds and sizes love it. Get yours here.

Final Thoughts

So, this is why your dog wants to put his paws on your shoulders. Keep in mind that in most cases your dog just wants to show you affection. Still, if you want the behavior to stop, you now know what to do.


As a kid, J. Cesar has always dreamed of becoming Dr. Dolittle. When he isn't writing, you can find him supporting his favorite football team or eating ice cream with his best dog-friend by his side. Linkedin Profile, My Website

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