Why Do Dogs Cross Their Paws?

Have you ever heard of the saying polite paws? This term refers to when a dog is seen crossing its paws. Why do dogs cross their paws, you may ask? Well, dogs do this for various reasons, and it isn’t a bad thing. Most likely, your dog is doing this for comfort reasons or as a submissive behavior. Keep reading on to learn all the reasons why your dog may be crossing its paws.

Why Do Dogs Cross Their Paws?

Reasons Why dogs Cross Their Paws

Here are some of the various reasons why your dog may be crossing its paws. Unfortunately, there really isn’t much research on why your dog does this, but there is a lot of speculation on why.

1. Your Dog is Trying to Communicate

Dogs are actually very clever and smart, and while your dog cannot speak to you in words, they can communicate in different ways. Dogs like to use their body parts to communicate. You may already know this about your dog with the way its head or tail looks to figure out your dog’s mode. However, you may have never thought to look at your dog’s paws to determine its mood until now.

If your dog has its paws crossed, it could mean your dog is trying to relay a message to you. What is that message? Well, that is the unknown in this factor that you will need to figure out.

2. Breed-Specific Talent

Believe it or not, there are breed-specific dogs that can actually cross their paws. This may happen naturally with just the way your dog likes to lay down to get comfortable.

What Breeds of Dogs Cross Their Paws?

Even if your dog’s breed is not on the list above, it is still possible that your dog may do this.

Dog Crossing Paws

3. For Comfort

Your dog may truly just be sitting or laying with its paws crossed because it is comfortable. Have you ever noticed other positions that dogs lay in? If you ever see your dog with its paw folded under itself, you know dogs have some uncomfortable positions. Laying with their paws in front of this is probably so much more comfortable than other positions.

4. Seeking Attention

Dogs are very intelligent, and they pick on behaviors that you reward without you even knowing that you rewarded them. When you notice your dog crossing their paws, what do you do? How do you react? Do you give your dog a treat or positive reinforcement?

Your dog picks up and remembers how you react. If it is consistently a positive experience, whether your dog gets a treat, praise, or even just some attention, your dog will remember and keep replicating that experience.

5. Your Dog Has Been Taught

Yes, if you did not know, you can actually teach your dog to cross its paws. Of course, this will take some time for your dog to learn if it does not naturally do this on its own. You will need to have consistent training followed by positive reinforcement.

Positive reinforcement can be in the form of praise or treats. Some dogs will learn things better if persuaded by treats. However, if you have a dog that is much older, it can be difficult to train your dog new things when they are not a puppy.

6. Submissive Behavior

Dogs that are not the alpha in the pack show submissive tendencies. This may be showing submission to you or other dogs inside of the home. Dogs can show this type of behavior in a lot of different ways. Some of the very common ways your dog might do this are by rolling over and laying on its back, lowering its head with its tail down, or even showing respect by crossing its paws.

You can rest easy knowing if your dog is crossing its paws it is not in submission fear; it is out of respect for you as the alpha.

Why Do Dogs Cross Their Paws Pin

How to Teach your Dog to Cross its Paws

Are you feeling jealous that other dog owners have dogs that know how to cross their paws? Well, do not worry because you can actually teach your dog how to cross its paws through training. Below you will find our quick tips on how to teach your dog to cross its paws.

  • Gather the supplies that you will need for training. Most dogs are motivated by tears to learn and perform commands. Small treats are perfect for training, but if you don’t have those, you can use cheerios.
  • If your dog already knows how to touch your hand with its paw, then you are on the right track. However, I suggest teaching your dog how to do that first if it doesn’t already know how to do that.
  • Practice this skill a few times to refresh your dog’s memory. Then, make sure to reward your dog with the trick that is done correctly.
  • Now that you practiced paw-to-hand, this time, you will put your hand on your dog’s opposite paw, and hopefully, the dog will follow you to that paw.
  • Now that you practiced paw-to-hand, this time you will put your hand on your dog’s opposite paw, and hopefully, the dog will follow you to that paw.
  • You can even manually put your dog’s paw onto the other paw.
  • You can say words to your dog like ‘across’ when your dog moves the paw over, or you manually do it.
  • Keep practicing this skill over and over until your dog masters it. Give your dog a lot of praise and treats while training.


Now you know exactly why dogs cross their paws. You can go through the possible reasons above and see which one you think best matches why your dog may be crossing its paws. Write me in the comments below and let me know if you have seen your dog exhibiting this behavior.

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