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Having a GSD puppy in your home equals having tons of fun. However, GS canines can display mysterious behavior at times. The ‘‘Why does my German Shepherd put his paw on me’’ phenomenon is just one of many.

In order to answer this question, we need to get a little bit of perspective first. GSDs are known to be among the most intelligent dog breeds in the world. 

That said, these purebred beauties have a plethora of ways to communicate with their owner. Therefore, putting their paws on you can be a simple act of communication.

However, this phenomenon can also be rooted in some sort of disapproval, insecurity, or even stress. That’s why recognizing the trigger of a specific dog’s behavior is the best way towards a solution.

In the following part of this article, we’re about to throw some of the possible answers that could be the reason for your GSD putting his paw on you. Let’s waste no more time!

Why Does My German Shepherd Put His Paw On Me

owner holding dog's pawowner holding dog's paw

In order to give a proper answer to ‘‘Why does my German Shepherd put his paw on me,’’ we need to go a few steps back. For starters, it is important to know that GS puppies are creatures of habit and impeccable ethics. 

That said, they will never display any sort of unusual behavior unless provoked or learned to do so.

Putting his paw on you does not necessarily have to be a bad thing or a bad habit. On the contrary, some canines simply love to show a little extra love to their owner by creating physical contact. 

The fact that GS dogs are generally super sensitive and intuitive makes them one of the best family dogs in the world.

On the other hand, a dog’s paw on its owner can be a simple gesture of gratitude. These canines know how to appreciate good behavior of their owner. Therefore, you can also expect to be ‘‘petted’’ by your dog every once in a while.

However, there are times when a dog putting his paw on you means something more. In order to find out what it is, take a look at these eight possible answers!

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1. Attention Seeking

Have you noticed lately that your dog won’t leave your side, even for one bit? Well, I’m afraid that your GS companion may just be too clingy. 

The ‘‘Why does my German Shepherd put his paw on me’’ phenomenon can be rooted in deeply needy, high-maintenance, or even jealous dog behavior.

This happens when an independent dog breed, such as a German Shepherd, does not get enough ‘‘me time.’’ That’s right. GS puppies are naturally independent and dominant dogs that need to be on their own every once in a while. That said, you should always spare several hours during the day to let your dog be.

Otherwise, you can trigger self-destructive or extremely clingy behavior in your pet, which is something you don’t want to do. Too much attention can lead to separation anxiety later.

2. Separation Anxiety

Both male and female GSD puppies can suffer from severe separation anxiety. Separation anxiety happens as a result of improper parenting. Namely, you need to find the line between being devoted to your dog, and knowing when to let go.

Some of the obvious signs of separation anxiety in a dog are urinating and defecating in odd places, lip smacking, growling or yelping, pacing, escaping the house, and even changing their entire routine.

That said, preparing your dog to stay alone for a few hours during the day needs to be done during its puppyhood stage. Young dogs will easily accept a certain behavioral pattern and adopt the routine better than dogs in their adult age.

You can always use some tools, such as dog TV shows or entertaining chew toys. Once you teach your dog how to be on its own – half of your job will already be done.

However, you don’t want to exaggerate. No GS dog likes being left alone for more than several hours a day. If you have a much too busy business schedule to stick to – find yourself a less clingy dog breed, or don’t get one at all.

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3. Craving Food

owner feeding German Shepherdowner feeding German Shepherd

One of the possible answers to ‘‘Why does my German Shepherd put his paw on me’’ can be found in simple food craving. As we already mentioned in one of the previous paragraphs, GS puppies are dogs that just love to have a strict schedule.

Therefore, if you’re late with their meal even once, they will instinctively warn you by putting their paw on you.

Other signs of indignation can be barking, howling, or yelping. Even though GS puppies howl for a plethora of reasons, they might just as well howl as a sign of protest. The same goes for putting their paw on you.

Mealtime is a sacred event for every GS canine. They simply enjoy eating dog food, especially after an exhaustive training session.

That’s why some puppies will find it extremely unpleasant to find out that their mealtime is delayed. Using their simple dog’s body language is just one of their ways of telling you to speed up the process.

Still, most obedience-trained GSDs will most likely be calm and seated while waiting for their order. That’s just who they are – they are nice, polite, and well-mannered German gentlemen.

4. It Wants To Exercise

GS dogs are not quite known for being a lap dog breed. They don’t enjoy laying around the house the whole day as they naturally crave activity. In fact, not giving your dog enough exercise during the day can trigger serious anxiety or self-destruction.

Putting their paw on you can be an indication that they want to go out for a walk or have a nice playtime in the back yard. If you sometimes wonder why my dog acts nervous and restless – see whether it’s time for its daily exercise!

‘‘Why does my German Shepherd put its paw on me’’ doesn’t necessarily have to be an enigma that needs deep studying. Sometimes, all you need to do is read the telltale signs.

If your dog shows signs of anxiety, or if it paces around the house for quite some time – delay no more! Hooman… get ready and prepare yourself for some nice exercise!

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5. Affection

Even though one might think that shepherd dog breeds are not as affectionate as some other breeds, that’s not factual!

Aside from being too clingy or dependent on you, some GS puppies love putting their paw on you as a deep sign of affection. Maintaining physical contact with a dog owner is not that uncommon of behavior in any dog.

In fact, touching your arm or sitting in your lap after having a nice meal of long-grain rice and meat can be a sign of deep trust and satisfaction. Dogs are intuitive beings that reciprocate good behavior to their owner.

That said, a dog putting his paw on you is not that uncommon, even for German Shepherds. They might not want to cuddle that often, but they will show affection every once in a while.

6. It’s Protecting You

girl and her German Shepherdgirl and her German Shepherd

That’s right! GS dogs are natural guardians of their home and family, which is why they will do anything to protect you from enemies and predators.

If you notice that your GS puppy is putting his paw on you while someone is entering your house – that’s a clear sign of protection. Female GS dogs for that matter have a natural parental instinct towards their owner.

Laying over their puppies or putting their paw over them is a natural protective instinct that serves as a defense mechanism.

Other signs of protective behavior can be excessive barking, growling, or even attacking. You’ve read that correctly! This is an aggressive dog breed by default, which means that GS puppies will attack in order to protect unless they are taught otherwise.

7. Learned Habit

Beware that GS puppies are dogs that require early training. This refers to early socialization training, in particular. It is much easier to train a two-month-old GS socialization than to socialize an aggressive dog.

With that analogy, we can say that the reason why GS puppies sometimes put their paws on their owner can be found in learned behavior. 

If you have got your dog used to physical contact during its puppyhood stage, it is most likely that this habit will remain in later stages as well. That’s why it is quite important to do your best in order to teach your GS dog as many good manners as possible. 

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If, by chance, you are a first-time dog owner, and you just don’t know where to start – engage a professional dog trainer!

Not all dogs come fully socialized and obedience-trained from a breeder. That’s why it is important to start reinforcing good behavior as soon as you bring your new puppy home.

8. It’s Trying To Calm You Down

GSDs are sensitive dogs that have great intuition. In fact, this breed is known as one of the smartest dog breeds in the world, which is why they are considered to be good therapists at times.

These German beauties can sense exactly how you feel. That said, if you are stressed, sad, or hurt putting its paw on you can be your dog’s way of telling you that ‘‘It’s all gonna be okay!’’

Pay attention to the rest of your dog’s body language. If your dog is feeling down at the same time as you, the mystery is solved – your dog is truly sharing your emotions!

The level of a dog’s intuition positively correlates with its natural intelligence. That said, GSDs have a greater potential to be intuitive due to their exquisite intelligence rather than some other dog breeds. 

However, their natural intelligence doesn’t always mean that they are low-maintenance.

On the contrary, due to their high level of intelligence, some dogs seek more mental stimulation, engagement, and commitment. If, by chance, you fail to deliver – you may deal with an extremely overwhelming and challenging dog in the long run.

How To Stop Your GSD From Putting Its Paw On You

owner training her German Shepherdowner training her German Shepherd

1. Training

There are two things you must do to make your GSD happy. The first is to deliver a proper and to-the-point feeding schedule. The second one is training.

Dog training is essential for any breed. However, GS puppies crave a lot more training than other dogs as they are naturally active, curious, and smart. That being said, a full-blooded GSD can be trained in almost anything, including body language.

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That’s right! If you don’t want your GS companion to put its paws on you teach it not to from its puppyhood stage.

GS generally have an impeccable working ethic, and they will do anything to please their owner. If you discourage physical contact during puppyhood – you won’t have to deal with it in the future.

In fact, the reason why GS dogs are so preferred by all types of families, including those living in small New York studio apartments, all the way to people living in the country, is because they are so easily trained and adaptable.

2. Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement, alongside firm leadership, is the number one thing in terms of GSD training. Reinforcing positive behavior in a dog with healthy snacks, interactive dog toys, praising, and petting will most likely result in a positive response.

These canines just love being good workers as they enjoy pleasing their owner all the time. That said, you can always use positive reinforcement techniques to either encourage or discourage some sort of behavior in your dog.

For instance, if you want your GSD to put its paw on you – show your approval by rewarding it with a snack. If you want to discourage it – it goes the other way around!

3. Don’t Act On It

It’s simple… if you don’t want your GSD to put its paw on you, don’t act on it! Ignoring specific behavior in a dog can result in an eventual withdrawal of those specific actions.

Generally, the majority of German dog breeds are quite intelligent dogs that understand the body language of their owner. That said, they will perfectly understand when you do or don’t approve of certain actions.

At the same time, attaching importance to a certain action, and not discouraging it, clearly can mislead your puppy into thinking that it’s okay to do it. This is why, sometimes, the best way to get rid of certain behavior in your dog is to simply ignore it.

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German Shepherd looking upGerman Shepherd looking up

1. Is It Normal For A Dog To Put His Paws On You?

It is perfectly normal for your dog companion to put his paws on you. In fact, some dogs assert this sort of behavior as a sign of affection, love, or trust.

Protective dog breeds, such as GSDs, sometimes put their paws on their owner as a sign of protection.

However, there are times when putting a paw on you means your dog is either in pain or depressed. If you notice weird behavior in your dog alongside putting its paw on you, you should seek veterinary advice.

2. Do German Shepherds Have A Favorite Person?

Most of the time – yes! GS dogs naturally crave leadership, which is why it won’t be that strange for them to bond with only one family member.

If you’re wondering ‘‘why is my dog acting clingy around a specific person,’’ the answer may be that it found its favorite family person!

However, the fact that these canines make decent family dogs makes them qualify among the least maintenance breeds, even for first-time dog owners. That said, properly-trained GSDs will have a good way with all family members.

Final Thoughts

German Shepherd standing on grass outsideGerman Shepherd standing on grass outside

The ‘‘Why does my German Shepherd put his paw on me’’ dilemma is never-ending. However, there are some pretty obvious rationales to answer this phenomenon. 

Throughout this article, we tried to give you eight basic explanations that might help you understand your canine’s behavior.

Still, the best way to understand a certain action or behavioral pattern in your dog is to observe other behavioral patterns as well. GS dogs are quite intuitive canines that have a broad set of emotions.

That said, it’s not uncommon for them to act strangely at times. However, if you are a first-time GSD owner, and you’re not quite sure whether to be amazed or concerned, it would be best to seek help from a professional dog trainer.

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By Andy Marcus

Hello, my name is Andy Marcus, and I am a passionate dog lover and enthusiast. For me, there is nothing quite like the joy and love that a furry friend can bring into our lives. I have spent years studying and learning about dogs, and have made it my mission to share my knowledge and expertise with others through my website. Through my website, I aim to provide comprehensive information and resources for dog owners and enthusiasts. Whether it's training tips, health and nutrition advice, or insights into dog behavior, I strive to create a platform that is accessible and useful to everyone who loves dogs.

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