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My dog wags his tail and then paws me with his front paws and I am at a loss as to explain what he wants.

This rarely occurs while I eat, and usually occurs when I am doing normal things, like being on my phone, sleeping, or swimming in my pool (when I am floating on the edge), so what exactly does he want?

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    How is his body shaped, when he does this? The back horizontal, or maybe one end (head or tail) lower than the other? If possible: a photo would be great :) Apr 19 at 18:45
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He wants to play (or is hungry/thirsty)!

This shows several signs that your dog desires to engage with you, such as:

  • tail wagging
  • physically engaging you by "pawing"
  • occurs when you are not focused on him (instead, on your phone, sleeping, or swimming)

When this happens, I encourage you to play with him, dogs - especially younger ones - need constant healthy play and exercise.

It can be as simple as throwing a ball as fetch or running around with him.

There is also the slight possibility that he is hungry or thirsty, and he is trying to get your attention so you refill his food and/or water. Without much context in your question, I can't say what your dog is trying to tell you. Just to be safe, make sure he has had all necessary food and his water is full before playing.


This answer is from my personal knowledge and experience. No sources are listed, but more information is available on the internet by Google to back me up.

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  • Would it not train the dog, to paw always, if this is direct rewarded? Maybe it would be better, to integrate play into the daily schedule... Apr 20 at 8:13
  • We do have daily playtimes, but my dog wants to play all day every day, so your answer is probably right! I will try to extend our playtimes. Sorry for lack of context in my answer, I will keep this in mind when I formulate my future questions :)
    – ava
    Apr 20 at 13:57
  • @ava Hi, if you need some inspiration for games and other methods to entertain your dog, have a look at this question
    – Elmy
    May 13 at 18:58
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I speak from experience as I have a very playful Hound/Retriever. Usually if they jump and put their front paws on your lap and claw at you, it could be many things, they are trying to hold on, they want you to play with them, or they are worried about you if your still for too long. Usually its them saying "Its time for play". If you really think its something else, I would take your pet to the vet to get it checked up.

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