This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!


Barked: Fri Aug 22, '08 10:37am PST 
My Elkhound paws everyone. I don't know if it's for attention or for dominance. Any thoughts? He is very strong and it hurts sometimes. He paws my whole family, even the cat who screeches and rightfully so! Any suggestions on how to stop this behavior.

*Retrieva Diva!*
Barked: Fri Aug 22, '08 12:03pm PST 
I've never heard of pawing being a dominance issue. Pawing is usually just a cry out for attention.

Nallah does this to me when she has either been naughty or is just feeling in a lovey dovey mood. I know what you mean, it can hurt! Those paddies aren't always the softest things!

How much exercise does he get? You could try telling him AH AH when he does this or just try and play into it a little more and see what he really needs. He might be asking to go outside, or be saying, hey! I need a walk! or hey! I need a hug!

You could also distract him with something else like giving him something to keep himself busy like a bully stick or a kong or something.

Hope this helps...

It's ok to- comfort scared- dogs!
Barked: Fri Aug 22, '08 4:05pm PST 
Why do you think that a dog would paw for 'dominance'? The whole idea that dogs are interested in taking over and being top dog is old and discredited news. Most dogs that display behaviors that are interpreted as being 'dominance seeking', are just being rude or don't know what else to do. Dogs do what works for them. Pawing is getting this dog something it wants. Instead of just thinking about stopping problem behaviors in your dog think about what behavior you'd prefer and then train the dog to do it. Prevent, interrupt or stop the dog from pawing the cat if the cat isn't into it, and anyone else for that matter. It sounds like a bad habit, not a personality flaw.


Self-appointed- Cookie Inspector
Barked: Fri Aug 22, '08 9:19pm PST 
Hi Hunter. Snoops definately paws for attention. Yes, he too will do it to anybody around. We have been trying to stop it, but have also discovered that if he doesn't stop, its his new way of asking to be let out to go outside!

Anyways, we found that ignoring it hasn't helped and have now tried diverting his attention. Its a work in progress, so I really can't tell if its working. Too soon to tell. We did find, that unless he's pawing to go out, he doesn't do it if he's had a good workout.

Good luck! Those paws can bruise an unsuspecting leg or arm!smile
Pippin CGC

King- Dingleberry!
Barked: Fri Aug 22, '08 9:46pm PST 
1st get the word "dominance" out of your thoughts!...Dogs do what pays off!...(remember that!) The pawing gets your attention & therefore "pays off"...The whole "dominance theory" was based on short term studies on captive wolf "packs" & has been found to be horribly flawed & even the Monks of New Skete who came up with it have debunked it.
See links at the bottom of this link:
Mocha Bear- (Mokie),- VGG, KPA,

CEO of Rewarding- Behaviors Dog- Training
Barked: Sat Aug 23, '08 9:58am PST 
All behaviors are a function of the "Three Term Contingency": Antecedent: Behavior: Consequence.

In order to control the behavior, you must control the antecedent and/or the consequence.

Managing the consequence is generally the easiest. Pawing can be an attention seeking behavior as well as a calming signal.

If the dog is pawing as an attention seeking behavior, negative punishment is your best bet. This means removing something the dog desires as a response to unwanted behavior to prevent the recurrence of the unwanted behavior. What is the dog desiring with the attention seeking behavior? Attention. Remove your attention by leaving the room briefly, or looking away and otherwise disengaging.

If the dog is pawing as a calming signal, try to determine the cause of the stress and reduce the exposure...address the emotional cause of the behavior, as the behavior is just a symptom of the emotional state.
Pippin CGC

King- Dingleberry!
Barked: Sat Aug 23, '08 9:59am PST 
I made a mistake in my post last night...The Monks of New Skete have retracted their support of the alpha roll technique...The links about dominance are on the bottom of that page...Just wanted to clarify!
B.t.w., I love that name!way to go

Member Since
Barked: Fri May 10, '13 6:44pm PST 
My St. Bernard does the same thing. Sadly the 2 previous responders didn't have an answer for you (or me), only critized your comment! I do believe it's for attention, at least in my dog's circumstances. However, she often does it even when she is getting some attention. I'm searching for a training technique on how to break this bad habit. FYI to the previous responders, my dog is a rescue, so she came with this bad habit, that I'm now trying to find out how to correct. To the Elkhound owner, if I find an answer, I'll get back to you!

Member Since
Barked: Fri May 10, '13 6:57pm PST 
Oops, my apologies to Moca Bear, Pippa, & Snoopy, I should've moved down. Sorry, I'm new to this, & I guess I didn't move down far enough to see your informative responses. Ignoring doesn't seem to work, but I will try leaving the room, walking away, etc. I had started making her sit, especially while I'm trying to get ready in the mornings to head out on our walk. That works about 1/2 the time, but there's still much room for improvement!