Dogs often surprise us with their behaviors that are seemingly human-like, making us wonder about the fascinating world of canine psychology. One such behavior is when dogs cross their paws just like people do. It’s a sight that can melt your heart – your furry friend sitting upright, gazing at you with those soulful eyes, and crossing its paws as if in deep thought. But have you ever wondered, Why do dogs cross their paws like people? Let’s unravel this adorable mystery and explore the possible reasons behind this charming behavior.
Understanding Dog Body Language
Dog body language is an extensive and fascinating area of study. Dogs, being non-verbal animals, primarily use body language to express their feelings, intentions, and needs. It can encompass many things, including ear position, tail wagging, eye contact, and yes, even the positioning of their paws.
Just like humans, dogs have a ‘vocabulary’ of postures, positions, and movements that can provide us with significant insight into their minds. A wagging tail, for instance, might signal happiness or excitement, while a lowered tail could indicate fear or submission. A relaxed, open mouth might suggest a calm, content state, while a closed mouth could be a sign of tension or discomfort.
The positioning of a dog’s paws is also part of this expressive body language. When a dog crosses their paws, it might appear as though they’re trying to mimic a human’s relaxed sitting position. However, it’s essential to look at the broader picture. The context in which the behavior occurs and accompanying body language signs can tell a lot about what a dog is trying to communicate.
Interpreting your dog’s body language can strengthen your bond as you understand and respond to their needs more effectively. But remember, each dog is unique, and behaviors can vary greatly between different dogs and different breeds. Therefore, it’s always important to consider individual characteristics and overall behavior patterns in your dog when interpreting their body language.
Common Reasons Why Do Dogs Cross Their Paws Like People
1. Due To Breed
If you want to know why dogs cross their paws, you need to know one important fact first. Some dog breeds do this more often than others. Other dog breeds don’t do it at all.
According to research, breeds such as poodles, labradors, and border collies do this most frequently. You may know that these are some of the most intelligent dog breeds out there.
They do this in order to copy their owners. But other dog breeds want to do the same thing, but it is harder for them. For instance, the dachshund has short legs, so this position is very hard for them to stay in. This applies to all dog breeds with short legs.
2. They Want To Tell You Something
This is one of the most common reasons. When a dog crosses his paws, he uses his body to tell you something. This can mean he wants a toy, food, treat, or anything else. Yes, dogs also use the tail and the entire body for communication. They are unable to speak, so this is the only method they can use to communicate.
Don’t forget that a dog crossing his paws might be used as a sign of dominance. On the other hand, if he lies on his back, it is a sign of submission.
3. Your Dog Is Happy
When a dog crosses his paws, he will need 2 seconds more to get up and chase the threat. You know that most dogs will stay on alert at all times, so this position doesn’t make any sense. On the other side, he is happy and doesn’t have anything to worry about. He will cross his paws as a way of telling you about his happiness.
If he does this all the time and also acts happy when next to you, you are an excellent dog owner. In other words, it means that you are giving everything your pet needs, and he is extremely happy.
4. To Be More Comfortable
Another common reason is also the most obvious. Dogs do this in order to be more comfortable. You will see that once he crosses his paws, his elbows are pushed back. This means that his legs won’t have to withstand the complete weight of the body.
It is a way to get more comfort and probably the main reason why some dogs do this. Yes, it is also known that not all dogs do this for this purpose.
If you think, you are doing the same thing. You will cross your legs in order to be more comfortable. Dogs like comfort, and they will use this position for the same purpose. It is quite obvious and probably the main reason why some dogs and certain dog breeds have been doing this for a long period of time.
5. They Can Get Something From This
Some dog owners will reward their pets as soon as they do something funny or nice. The best example is crossing paws. After all, this is called polite behaviour for a reason. A dog will know that he will get a treat or petting if he does this. As such, he will do it all the time.
There is no additional explanation or anything else we can add here. He wants a reward, and he will use this method to get it. It sounds smart because it is.
If you are one of the dog owners who will always reward his dog with everything you can, he will realise that and start using it to his advantage. Yes, you can reward him occasionally, but not every single time. Just imagine how many treats you need.
6. Your Dog Is Submissive
We have already mentioned this reason. But, now you will get all the needed information about it. We believe that some dogs will cross their paws in order to show their submission. After all, you are the alpha in this pack, and if he wants to let you know, he gets to.
An interesting fact is that shorter dogs will do this more often. In addition, they will demonstrate submission more frequently in general. Other methods they can use to show it include lowering the tail or rolling. They need more time to react in the case of a fight or any other action, so we can see how often and how important this reason is. There is no need to add that not all dogs will use this position for this very reason.
7. He Is Trained To Do This.
You can train your dog to cross his paws. Most dog owners do this at some point. It looks great and is appealing. Yes, you can train him to do this, and you will need a few things. First of all, you need a lot of time. Positive reinforcement and, obviously, treats are essential things.
Don’t forget that some dogs will learn this position sooner than others.
One issue here is that your dog will cross his paws when he wants a treat or when you give a command. Other reasons from this list may not apply in this scenario. Of course, it is still a nice trick and one that can make a massive difference.
Is Paw Crossing a Cause for Concern?
Observing your dog crossing their paws might be quite amusing and endearing, but it’s also important to know when this behavior might be a signal for something more serious.
Generally, dogs crossing their paws is not a cause for concern. It’s often a sign of contentment, relaxation, or a mimicked behavior from observing humans. However, there are a few scenarios where paw crossing could be indicative of a health issue.
If your dog crosses its paws consistently in one direction (always having the right paw over the left or vice versa), it could be indicative of a bone or joint issue. Any irregularity in posture could signal discomfort or pain. If your pet is favoring one side or seems to be crossing its paws in order to avoid putting weight on a certain limb, it’s advisable to consult a veterinarian.
While rare, repetitive paw crossing can sometimes be a sign of neurological issues. Look for other signs such as uncoordinated movements, difficulty walking, or other changes in behavior.
Pain or Discomfort:
If paw crossing is accompanied by licking, chewing, or apparent distress, it could mean your dog is trying to alleviate pain or discomfort. This could be due to an injury, a splinter, or an insect bite.
Remember, occasional paw crossing is usually harmless and can simply be a quirk of your dog’s behavior. But consistent, frequent, or sudden onset of this behavior paired with any other signs of distress should prompt a visit to the vet to rule out any underlying health problems. Always observe your dog’s behavior in its entirety rather than focusing on just one action. Dogs communicate their feelings and health largely through their behaviors, and as pet owners, it’s our responsibility to stay attuned to these signals.
How to Respond to Your Dog’s Paw Crossing
Your dog crossing its paws may not require any specific response from you, especially if it seems to be just a quirk or a sign of contentment. However, understanding how to respond can be vital if the behavior appears to be an indication of some discomfort or health issue.
Observe the Frequency:
Keep an eye on how often your dog crosses its paws. Occasional crossing might be perfectly normal. However, if your dog is doing it frequently or obsessively, this might be a signal that something is not right.
Check for Discomfort:
Check your dog’s paws regularly for any signs of injury or discomfort. Look for cuts, sores, splinters, or signs of an insect bite. Also, inspect the paw pads for any dryness or cracks.
Notice Any Behavioral Changes:
Is the paw crossing accompanied by other unusual behaviors? Does your dog seem to be in pain, is it limping, or does it show any signs of distress? These could be indications of an underlying issue that needs veterinary attention.
Consult a Vet:
If the paw crossing is frequent, sudden, or paired with other signs of distress or discomfort, it’s a good idea to consult your vet. They can perform a thorough check-up to rule out any underlying health conditions.
Positive Reinforcement: If your dog’s paw crossing is harmless and you find it cute, you can use positive reinforcement to encourage this behavior. However, always ensure that this does not lead to any discomfort for your pet.
The Final Word
Why do dogs cross their paws? These were the seven most common and best-known reasons. In order to understand why your dog is doing this, you need to look for other signs and investigate. It is possible that he is crossing his paws due to all or most of the reasons on the list. Anyway, it is fun, and it is a position that looks like no other.