You’re having a lovely time rubbing your dog’s belly when all of a sudden, a paw shoots out and starts pushing against you!
This action might come off as strange, but there are reasonable explanations for this odd behavior.
Dogs push you away when you pet them because they are just playing with you or asking you to stop. They may also be asking for more attention, mimicking your petting, or you may just be hitting a feel-good petting spot that triggers their reflexes.
In this article, I will list some of the reasons your pup might be pushing you away when you pet them!
Dogs with strong bonds to their owners learn how to be polite and gentle. Not all dogs enjoy constant petting or rubbing, and if you have a dog with a more independent nature - pushing you away when petting can actually be a sign to stop.
Your dog may be trying to simply ask you to please stop.
To determine if the motion is asking to stop rather than keep going (like some of the reasons above state), be observant of your dog’s other behaviors. If your pup isn’t one to want constant hugging, cuddling, or petting - that’s a key clue right there. If your pup is tense in body language, that’s another sign.
Others claim that dogs pushing during petting can be a subconscious reaction. Much like we make noises unintentionally or have a reflexive action to certain stimulus, dogs may have the same thing!
By giving your dog very good scratches in their favorite place, they may be outstretching their limbs and putting pressure as a reflex.
You can figure out whether or not this is a reflex-based on how your dog’s other limbs respond. Oftentimes, all of the limbs will stretch, only the limb you are scratching closest to will stretch, or limbs will stretch in pairs.
Our proximity to our pups when petting often becomes the reason their reflexively stretched legs reach us, and the reflex to stretch is what causes the pushing sensation.
Playful creatures by nature, dogs will more often than not use their paws for playtime. This is especially prevalent for those owners that use their hands to play with their dogs! Petting can signal playtime, and as such, pushing us away when we pet them can be a dog’s method of playing a game.
You can usually tell if this is playfulness based on how energetic and almost spazztic your pup gets! If the tail is wagging, that’s another sure sign that the pushing motion has to do with playtime.
If your pup begins placing their paw(s) on you and pushing you after your petting has slowed down, they may be asking for more attention! Dog owners all over the world can likely all express the same sentiment: our dogs probably think that our hands were specially made to pet them all day!
When we start lapsing in our petting speed or rubbing veracity, the dogs notice. As such, they may communicate that they want more petting by pushing us with their paws.
Dogs communicate with body language - and their paws are one of the most useful tools! If your dog is quite paw-centric, you might be used to behaviors such as pawing at the door indicating potty time or pawing at your legs asking for attention.
But for some dogs, a pawing gesture accompanies pushing when petting to indicate a wanting. Submissive dogs tend to roll over on their backs when they are asking for something specific from you, and many humans interpret this as a request for belly pets!
If your dog is trying to ask for something else, such as potty time or food, but you rub the belly instead - they may push you with their paws to say, “that’s not what I’m asking for.”
Granted, determining this really depends on how well you understand your dog. Dogs find ways to communicate with us, and the better you know your pup - the easier it is to read their language.
If the dog constantly rolls over around dinner time, potty time, or walk time - that is a strong indication that this behavior is associated with a request. The paw is an extra add to ensure you understand what your dog wants!