The Adorable Reason Why Large Dogs Cross Their Paws


The different positions that your dog can manage to get itself into can leave you bewildered, confused or just laughing at its eccentricities. Having a large dog laying down with its paws crossed can be a bit of a juxtaposition to what we usually imagine when thinking about these large, mammoth animals. But laying down this way, also known as “polite paws”, is common amongst large dog breeds.

Two main reasons are given for why large dogs cross their paws. The first is physical comfort, and the second is that your dog is feeling comfortable and content with its situation. By having the elbows rotated out and extra weight off the shoulder, it makes a more comfortable position for lying down.

Husky paws crossed

Find out more about, “polite paws”, and how you can teach your dog to do this trick further down.

Physical Comfort

The first and most obvious reason for your large dog to lay down and cross their paws is to be in a physically comfortable position. With the heavy weight that larger dogs have, spreading the load out over a larger surface area by having the elbows angled out can be good for joints and provide a more relaxing position. By having less body weight resting on his elbows and shoulders this puts less strain on the dog’s shoulders and joints, making a more comfortable and restful time for your dog.

Great Dane paws crossed

Emotional Comfort

Another idea that has been put forward as to why dogs cross their paws is the level of contentment of the dog. If your dog is in an environment that it is comfortable and relaxed in, it will be more likely to lay down in this comfortable position as it is not worried about its safety. Laying down with its paws crossed is a submissive position, so by being in this position, it shows that your dog trusts you.

Unknown breed paws crossed

Teaching you Dog to Cross their Paws

If you would like to teach your dog to cross their paws as a trick, it’s possible. It’s best to use treats to reward your dog during training, and if you have had the giant paws of your dog on you, you will know that for this exercise, something to protect your hand will be needed as well.

To start with, get your dog to touch your hand with its left paw and then give a treat and praise when it does. Do this until you can get your dog to consistently start to move your hand towards the other right paw and have you touch your hand with its left paw before rewarding it. Continue doing this until your dog is crossing its paws on command. Janet of www.loveyourdog.com has done an excellent video of her training her border collie to perform this trick by using this method.

After being able to complete the crossing paws trick confidently, you can also try a double-cross by teaching your dog to cross its feet the other way. Janet also has a video of her border collie completing this trick as well.

Related Questions

Why does my dog put his paws on me?

There are several reasons that your dog might put his paws on you including, trying to get your attention, apologizing to you, letting you know that they need something or merely reinforcing its bond with you through initiating physical contact. By learning to read your dog’s non-verbal communication, you can improve your relationship with your dog by meeting your dog’s needs as well as curbing unwanted behavior.

Why does my large dog lean on me?

A widespread trait amongst large dogs is the tendency to lean on people. Generally, they will lean on their owners or people that they trust. The main two reasons that they will lean on you is for security or as a sign of affection. Some animal behavioural scientists in the past used to also think it might be to assert dominance, but that idea has diminished in popularity.

When leaning on you for security, your dog might feel anxious and be leaning on you for reassurance and protection. In this case, try to calm your dog and remove your dog from the situation that’s giving it anxiety.

Mostly your dog will lean on you as a sign of affection and be close to you. It will usually just want a pat and some attention from you.

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