Saturday, February 24, 2007

My Labrador Retriever Likes To Paw

Readers E-mail: Mike Writes

I have two wonderful family members Courtney and Bentley. They are both Chocolate Labradors. When I am petting Bentley he likes to put his paw on my arm. What does this mean?

Answer:

Pawing with your Labrador Retriever is a behavior that is used to signify different things. Labradors will usually paw another as a form of a display of dominance, an attention seeking behavior, or as a play solicitation.

In you case with Bentley, I believe this is an attention seeking behavior. He is just looking for love from you, looking for you to pay more attention to them. It's funny, I have two Labradors myself and my oldest one (Dakota), and the one I had first, also pawed as we pet both dogs. It was her way of trying to further getting more attention to her.

If the pawing doesn't bother you (there is nothing really wrong with this behavior as long as it stays within limits) , I think you can indulge Bentley at times, but remember that Bentley will quickly learn what works and what doesn't in relation to how you respond. If you always respond when he does this, you will continue to get more of this behavior down the road.

What I did for Dakota was to ignore her when she did place her paw on me. Every time she would raise her paw when she was being pet, she would be ignored. Over time, Dakota performed the action less frequently, with her attention seeking behavior eventually fading away.
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You are also establishing yourself as the top dog in the pack. You are the boss; you dictate when things happen, not the other way around. He is an interesting article you might want to take a look at Establishing Alpha Position; number 15 on that list applies to your situation.
I hope that this helps you, and if you decide to train Bentley to stop this behavior remember to be consistent. If you give in to Bentley after you start your training, you will reinforce the behavior more.

Reply From Mike:

Thank you very much for such a detailed response. We found it very interesting. We always thought it was just cute, but after reading your response we realized it might not be as cute as we first thought. We are going to take your advice and give it a try. I will keep you updated on our results. I have also attached a few photos of our family members for the web site. Again, we thank you very much for your explanation and great links.

To see the beautiful pictures of Mike's Labrador Retrievers:

Courtney

Bentley


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