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The Golden Retriever – a gentle soul, adorable face, big heart, wagging tail, and happy-go-lucky personality. The true epitome of a loving dog breed with a heart of gold. 

These dogs are all-time favorites for many reasons; moreover, it’s simply impossible to resist their adorable charm. I have yet to meet a person who doesn’t like these pooches, and I am happy to stay like that. 

With all their special quirks and traits, they are truly unique among many other dog breeds. 

“Why does my Golden Retriever put his paw on me?” a question many of you ask. Dogs can’t speak, but they can say a lot with their body language. 

A dog’s paw speaks many languages – you only need to pay special attention in order to understand the true meaning of the action.  

Why Do Golden Retrievers Put Their Paw On You? 

1. To Say, “I Love You!” 

little girl holding dog's paw in the parklittle girl holding dog's paw in the park

Why do we pet dogs?

I’m guessing it’s to show them love and affection. Well, guess what?! Dogs do the same. 

If your Golden Retriever puts his paw on you, he might be saying to you, “I love you”, and “I care about you”. 

Golden Retrievers are smart dogs, and they learn pretty quickly that humans love physical contact, so they use touching with their paw as one of the ways to communicate love. 

2. Seeking Attention  

Golden Retrievers are very active dogs that require a lot of attention, and at least one hour of  physical and mental stimulation. They are outgoing, goofy, and eager-to-please dogs that appear to be always happy and smiling. 

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However, even these dogs can become bored and depressed if they don’t receive enough exercise and social interaction to keep them happy and healthy. If your dog is bored and craves your attention, he might put his paw on you to attract your attention. 

Read also: How To Keep A Dog Entertained While At Work: 19 Tips & Tricks

3. Showing Affection 

Just like expressing their love to you, your Golden Retriever might be pawing you in order to comfort you and show his affection. 

Dogs are very social animals, and according to the 2020 study published in the Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology, they have “affective empathy” and the ability to understand and “catch” emotions of people important to them. 

Dogs do not only have an ability to feel empathy, but also an ability to act on it and lend a helping paw. If you are sad, crying, or distressed, it is very likely that your Golden Retriever will somehow try to comfort you and be there for you like a true best friend. 

4. Asking For Rewards 

golden retriever gives a paw to the male hand in the parkgolden retriever gives a paw to the male hand in the park

Training your dog to give paw is one of the first and most basic tricks that everyone teaches their puppies. Basic obedience training is usually done with positive reinforcement and yummy treats that give you excellent and quick results. 

If you want to teach your pup to high-five or give paw, you only need to hold a closed fist containing his favorite treat until he touches your hand with his paw. 

Therefore, when your dog puts his paw on you, it might mean that he is asking for his treat for being the goodest boy ever

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For the full guide on how to train your dog to give paw/high-five, please consult these step-by-step instructions. 

5. To Say, “I’m Sorry!”

A 2009 study done by a dog cognition scientist, and author, Dr. Alexandra Horowitz showed that dogs display “guilty” body language as a learned behavior of submission followed by the owner’s angry emotions or expression. 

The reason why your Golden Retriever puts his paw on you might be his own way of saying, “I’m sorry!”, and apologizing for his bad behavior that made you upset or angry. 

6. Asking For Help

It is often very hard to understand what is wrong with your dog or even see that something is not alright. Unfortunately, dogs cannot tell us what is going on, so as a responsible dog owner, you need to learn to distinguish between normal and kind of weird dog behavior.

When a dog paws you, it can also be one of the nonverbal cues that send an SOS signal asking for help. As I have mentioned previously, this action will usually be accompanied by weird or strangely unusual behavior of your Golden Retriever. 

7. Asking For Food

owner giving golden retriever meal in bowlowner giving golden retriever meal in bowl

Dogs express their hunger in many ways, such as barking; however, one of the very common methods of communicating the feeling of hunger is actually putting their paws on you. 

This is closely related to basic training and our habit to give our dogs food immediately when they raise their paw.

Since it is often hard to understand why dogs put their paws on us, many dog owners correlate this kind of behavior with asking for food, which involuntarily creates a learned behavior and an unhealthy habit in dogs. 

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Related: 9 Types Of Golden Retrievers: Get To Know All Of Them

8. Pet Me, Human…

It’s a cozy Wednesday night, and you and your adorable Golden Retriever are cuddling on the sofa. You’re petting him gently when all of a sudden, you decide to stop with the petting because of something… First of all, how rude! And, second of all, why’d you stop, human?!

Admit it… this has happened way too many times. Dogs adore being petted because of the energy you’re conveying through that touch. Not only does it feel great, but it also shows your dog that you love him and care a lot about him. 

When you stop petting abruptly, your Golden Retriever will most likely put his paw on you in order to ask for more pets. 

9. You Have Something That’s Theirs

The act of raising a paw can also be a way to ask for something that belongs to them. You might hold their favorite toy, blanket, ball, or pretty much anything that they recognize as theirs, and they want it in their possession. 

This is similar to the way toddlers behave when they raise their hand in order to ask for something that you took from them. This behavior is often accompanied by a sweet face and “puppy eyes”. 

10. Permission To Go Outside

man cuddling his golden retriever indoorsman cuddling his golden retriever indoors

When a dog wants to go outside for playtime or potty time, he will most likely never leave your side; however, a very efficient way of gaining your attention proved to be gentle caressing of the paw. 

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Related: Puppy Potty Training Regression: Fixing What’s Broken

Dogs that live indoors cannot open the doors by themselves, which means that they have to communicate to you somehow that they need to go outside. Putting their paw on you is one of the very signs of this behavior.

11. As A Stress Relief

Although it might be hard to believe, canine stress and anxiety are very common feelings in the canine world. Even a slight change in the dog’s environment can cause him distress and fear. 

Loud noises, thunderstorms, or shouting can all make your pooch super-stressed. The reason why your Golden Retriever puts his paw on you might be exactly because of that. He wants to tell you that he’s scared and wants to be comforted by his favorite person in the entire world. 

A lot of dogs also suffer from separation anxiety, which means that they hate to be left alone. When they sense that you’re leaving, they might try to stop you by putting their paw on you. 

Recommended reading: 13 Reasons Why Golden Retrievers Are The Worst 

Paw-some Thoughts 

Dogs might not be able to talk, but they sure know how to tell us what they’re thinking. If you’re one of those owners who continuously wonders, “why does my Golden Retriever put his paw on me?”, I hope that you have found your answers. 

Each dog is special and unique in his own way. Take your time to learn all your dog’s quirks and little traits, which will help you understand his behavior much better. A paw can mean being happy, but it can also mean being sad, so it’s up to you to figure out what exactly does your dog want. 

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You know your furry babies the best, so I have no doubt that you’ll be able to communicate with them without any problems. 

Read next: 58 Golden Retriever Mixes: Goldie Cuteness Alert

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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