Top 8 Reasons Why Australian Shepherds Paw At You + 3 Tips

Pawscessories is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.


When your australian shepherd paws at you there’s a fine line between being cute and being just plain annoying. Which entirely depends on how often they do it. 

Is it normal for australian shepherds to paw at you so much or is something wrong?

Why Does My Australian Shepherd Paw At Me:

Your australian shepherd paws at you to communicate with you. Whether it is they want more attention, letting you know they need something like more food and water or to be let outside. When they paw at you it is one of their best ways to nonverbally communicate.

In this post you’ll discover:

  • 8 reasons why your australian shepherd paws at you
  • When your aussie’s pawing at you is something to be concerned about
  • Whether you should stop your australian shepherd from pawing at you
  • Tips to help with excessive pawing
  • And much, much more

Let’s jump right in.

Top 8 Reasons Why Australian Shepherds Paw At You + 3 Tips

Top 8 Reasons Why Your Australian Shepherd Paws At You

1) You Stopped

One of the most classic reasons why your australian shepherd paws at you is because you stopped giving them love or attention.

Whether it was petting them, cuddling with them, playing with them or giving them a belly rub.

If your aussie was really enjoying the attention they were getting and you suddenly stop, they’ll paw at you to get you to keep going.

It’s like if you were in the middle of getting a great back scratch and the person scratching your back decided to stop.

Since you can talk you’d ask them why they stopped and to keep going.

But since your pup can’t do the same they paw at you to get the same message across.

Related Reading: 10 Best Toys To Entertain Your Dog | Boredom Buster Toys

2) They Need Food Or Water

It could also mean that your aussie needs more food or water when they paw at you.

A lot of times when dogs paw at us, they’re trying to tell us something and we just don’t know what it is.

If their pawing has come out of the blue, meaning you weren’t recently petting them, it’s worth checking their food and water bowls.

You might find that they’re empty and as soon as you fill them your pup gets a much needed drink of water.

It’s understandable to forget to check if your pup needs more food or water every once and a while so pawing in this case is very helpful.

3) They Need To Go Potty

Another helpful reason for your australian shepherd to paw at you is to let you know they need to go to the bathroom.

If none of their other signals have done the trick to let you know they need outside, they may resort to a more physical sign like pawing at you.

My pup would always start with a quiet bark that sounded more like a huff.

Which would also be paired with a paw stomp.

If that didn’t work she’d either start huffing louder or lie right under my feet and occasionally paw at me.

If your aussie’s pawing has been consistent and it’s not because you stopped petting them, they might be trying to tell you they need to go outside.

Related Reading: 8 Real Reasons Why Australian Shepherds Are Hard To Train

4) Saying Sorry

Sometimes when your australian shepherd paws at you, they might actually be trying to say sorry.

If they’ve done something they know they’re not supposed to do or they accidentally hurt you, one of their ways of apologizing is by pawing at you.

It’s their way of asking for forgiveness and most of the time it works because.. how can you stay mad at that cute face!

I personally think it’s because they know ‘shake a paw’ is a behavior that we like to see because we give them praise when they do it.

So when they do something bad they paw at you as if to say, “I’m sorry I had an accident inside but look I’m shaking a paw/high fiving right now which you like, right??”

It’s pretty hard to stay mad at them when they look so darn cute.

5) Boredom

Another reason your aussie might start pawing at you is because they’re bored.

If they don’t have anything else to do and they want your attention, they may start pawing at you.

They’re tired of playing with their toys on their own or are patiently (impatiently) waiting for their next walk.

Pawing at you in this instance is your australian shepherds way of getting your attention because they’re painfully bored.

And if you’re just sitting on the couch watching TV they’ll think, “Quit staring at that noisy thing and play with me instead!”

Related Reading: Are Australian Shepherds High Maintenance? (Explained!)

6) Letting You Know They Want Space

Although australian shepherds are known for being velcro dogs, there are times when they may want their space.

And just like people, sometimes they need some time to themselves.

If your aussie starts pawing at you it might be their way of saying “I love you but can you please give me some space?”

It’s not a common occurrence but it does happen from time to time.

Most of the time they’ll just move away from you or go lay down in another room.

This could be because they’re too warm already and don’t want to cuddle right now.

Or it could be because they aren’t feeling well and don’t want to be touched at the moment.

Related Reading: Are Australian Shepherds Dramatic? Reasons Why + Tips

7) If Excessive – Anxiety

Excessive pawing can be a sign of anxiety in your australian shepherd.

If they’re pawing so much that it’s starting to hurt you or they’re leaving marks on your furniture, this could be their way of dealing with anxiety.

If you notice any other excessive behavior paired with their constant pawing at you, it could be they’re feeling anxious.

Things like excessive pacing, drooling, whining, barking, licking, etc.

The only way to fix this would be to find the root cause behind your pup’s anxiety and help them overcome it.

Then their pawing would resume to mostly being for helpful reminders and attention every now and then.

Related Reading: Australian Shepherd Anxiety: Symptoms, Causes & Solutions

8) Picking Up On Your Emotions

The last reason your australian shepherd might be pawing at you is because they’re picking up on your emotions.

If you’re feeling anxious, stressed, or overwhelmed, they may be able to sense it.

What’s interesting about dogs is, if their owners are feeling a certain way, they’ll pick up on these emotions and feel them too.

The reason for this is they see you as the leader of their pack.

Which means they trust your judgment.

So if you’re feeling anxious, sad or stressed out, they’ll trust that your assessment of the environment is accurate and feel those feelings too.

In their mind they’ll think there must be something to worry about so I’ll put myself on edge as well.

So if you’re feeling particularly blue or anxious lately and your aussie is pawing at you a lot, they could be trying to get some attention to make themselves feel better.

And thankfully, when you pay attention to your pup and pet them, both of you start to feel better because of the happy hormones that are released.

Should You Stop Your Australian Shepherd From Pawing At You?

Now that you know some of the reasons why your australian shepherd might be pawing at you, should you stop them from doing it?

And the answer to that is..

It depends on how much it bothers you.

If you find it considerably annoying and your australian shepherd paws at you constantly, you might want to help train them to stop.

On the other hand, if it doesn’t happen too often and you find it cute or that they’re usually reminding you and being helpful, there’s no need to stop them.

Pawing is a perfectly normal behavior for dogs and as long as they’re not doing it excessively, there’s no need to stop them.

If you do want to help train your aussie not to paw at you, there are a few things you can do.

Tips To Help Reduce How Often Your Australian Shepherd Paws At You

1) Don’t Reward It

The first thing you’d need to do is make sure you’re not rewarding your pup when they paw at you.

If they start pawing at you and you pet them, scratch their belly, or give them any attention whatsoever, then they’ll continue doing it because they know it gets them attention.

So if you want them to stop, make sure you’re not accidentally rewarding them when they do it.

This means no eye contact, talking to them or petting when they paw at you.

In other words, do your best to completely ignore them when they do it.

If they paw at you and you give them attention, even if you’re telling them to stop or pushing them away, this counts as a reward.

The better you are at ignoring them when they paw at you, the less likely they’ll be to continue pawing at you.

It may take a while for them to stop doing it altogether, but eventually they’ll get the hint.

2) Tire Them Out

Another way to help reduce how often your australian shepherd paws at you is to make sure they’re getting enough exercise.

Aussies are a particularly active breed and need a lot of physical activity to stay happy and healthy.

So if your pup isn’t getting enough exercise, they might start pawing at you as a way to deal with their pent up energy.

They have too much energy to do nothing and sit still so they paw at you in an attempt to play or do something fun.

Which means to stop them from wanting to paw at you for these reasons you can take them on more/longer walks, play fetch or tug-of-war, or let them run around in a fenced area.

If they’re not as active as they should be, they’ll likely start pawing at you more often.

But if you keep them active through exercise, they’ll be less likely to resort to this behavior.

Related Reading: 12 Best Harnesses for Australian Shepherds: Features and Benefits

3) If Paired With Other Behavior – See Vet

There are a few reasons why your australian shepherd might be pawing at you that warrant seeing a vet.

For example, if they start pawing at you and it’s paired with excessive licking, chewing or biting of their paws, it could be a sign of anxiety or allergies.

If your pup is starting to paw at you more often and you can’t seem to figure out why, it’s a good idea to take them to the vet for a check-up.

[Nothing brings peace of mind quite like speaking with a vet – click here to chat with a vet online now]

Other posts you might find interesting:

8 Best Dog Beds for Australian Shepherds | Beds That Last

Top 9 Reasons Australian Shepherds Pant So Much + 4 Tips

9 Real Reasons Australian Shepherds Limp + Helpful Tips

8 Reasons Australian Shepherds Get Too Skinny + 4 Tips