Why Do Dogs Cross Their Paws?

Have you ever noticed your dog sitting like an old English dame with its paws crossed in a very polite manner? Why do dogs cross their paws? Let’s figure this one out today!

Some pet behaviors are eccentric. One of these behaviors is when canines cross their paws. This cute but puzzling behavior is often called “polite paws” and it is common to both cats and dogs.

According to some animal behavior consultants, dogs feel comfortable when they sit with crossed paws while resting. It is very similar to the way we humans cross our legs to feel comfortable when sitting down. 

One of the reasons might be that when canines lie down, they turn their elbows outward. This takes out the weight from the back of the shoulders, thus making them more comfortable. So they might be doing this because they want to be comfortable or they might just be exhausted and the position helps them relax.

Why Do Dogs Cross Their Paws

You may have seen canines in this posture while lying under the sun or on a playground. 

On the other hand, some people say they do so because they want to communicate with their keepers and human parents. Dogs are very eloquent with their gestures, so whenever a puppy or an adult dog crosses their paws, that might indicate that they want to shoot something.

For canines with short or wide body types (such as dachshunds), it might be difficult to cross their paws. It seems that everyone has a view on this behavior. So let me share what I understand based on my personal experiences! 

Why Do Dogs Cross Their Paws?

To Communicate

In my view, this is the most likely reason. Dogs can’t speak, so they tend to rely on their body posture to transmit their notions and affection. To understand canine emotions and feelings, you need to observe subtle signs such as when they cross their paws.

Crossed paws can be related to multiple signs that a dog can give based on the situation. Sometimes it could be a cheerful indication that they are in a peaceful and relaxed state. At other times it could also mean that they are observing what’s happening around them, ready for action.

Again, as mentioned earlier, we have to keep a close eye on them to observe their every behavior while they entangle their paws. For example, if a ferocious canine lives in your locality and is sitting with his paws crossed. Then does that mean you can approach them because they seem to be in a calm mood? I don’t think so!

Why Do Dogs Cross Their Paws

Usual Behavior in Some Breeds

Some breeds have a natural propensity to cross or entangle their paws. These breeds include Labradors, Border collies, and Poodles. Other breeds, tend to cross their paws because of the way their body is structured.

Some teacup dogs or short leg dogs such as basset hound, dachshund, welsh corgi, cairn terrier, etc., are breeds that can’t cross their paws.

To Convey Fear/Anxiousness

Sometimes, when a domesticated dog gets frightened, anxious, or tense with any situation, they will use polite paws to avoid a dangerous situation. For instance, when a huge canine barks at them, they tend to get nervous and timid and cross their paws.

In this case, they circumvent their eye and sometimes yawn, sitting with crossed paws as if nothing impacts them. Uncertainty can also be one of the reasons in these cases.


Some dog breeders and pet parents have observed that domesticated dogs cross their paws more often than wild ones, irrespective of breed. 

This habit can also be judged according to their body constitution, body language, or intelligence. The larger the canine, the more the level of intelligence and therefore the bigger the propensity to cross their paws. 


Recently an experiment done on different domesticated canines showed that dogs will copy their keeper’s behavior, thinking it is the right thing to do. Sometimes, humans unknowingly might have a habit of crossing their legs while relaxing. So our dogs might be imitating the same pattern. 

If you are a canine owner, notice what happens when you sit with your legs folded in front of your furry companion. If your dog emulates the behavior, it’s simply a sign of their admiration for you. 

Licking you, trying to lie beside you, running towards you or after you come from the market are similar examples that they imitate your behaviors. A dog can do literally anything that draws a positive response from its human parent.

Why Do Dogs Cross Their Paws

Genuine Pose

When we try to relax by leaning on our elbows it may sometimes begin to hurt. The same holds true with dogs, but they have to do this more often because they have a tendency to stay alert. If dogs want to stay vigilant while relaxing, the only choice is to rest on their elbows. 

But to make it less severe, dogs rotate their shoulders. This will make the elbow turn outward, and their paws will come in the center as a matter of course. So, proper pose or posture for a dog is essential to stay alert and to feel less pain simultaneously.

Vigilant Posture

Polite paws are also a good way to stay alert. Most dogs are almost always on, so if you notice a canine crossing their paws, it might just mean that they are watchful of the surrounding. In this situation, the crossed position of the paws aids the dog to dash and dart.

What Does It Mean When A Dog Crosses His Paws? 

It is said that dogs use their paws to communicate with others. A dog crosses its paws often to show its happiness and contentment. They also cross their paws while relaxing. The crossing of paws is a comfortable position for dogs.

Animal behavior consultants opine that crossing the forepaws while at rest probably has more to do with comfort and body conformation. For instance, crossing paws might skew the elbows outward in a more comfortable resting position.

What Does Cross Paws Mean? 

The phrase cross paws indicate the dog feeling comfortable, happy, and content. The simplest cause might be the dog is more comfortable when lying down, as rotating the elbows out takes its weight off the shoulder. 

A posture of relaxation can indicate either contentment or fatigue. This posture of a dog is also labeled as polite paws. It can also be opined that polite paws are happy paws.’

Why Do Dogs Cross Their Paws

Why Does My Dog Fold His Front Paws? 

Dogs usually enjoy curling themselves into a fetal ball while lying down. We may find that their paws are also curled up loosely on a closer look. On the other hand, the dog’s paws are curled up tightly when anxious.

It is said that a dog’s paws extrude a wealth of information to us about their moods, needs, and physical conditions. Affection, love, attention, care, and physical condition can be easily accessed from the way a dog curls its front paws.

A dog curls its paws to show affection towards its owner or master or instructor. Again, a dog curls his paws to seek their owner’s attention and continues tapping it until he gets it from their owner. A curling toed dog is healthy and a very affectionate one.

A Few Last Words

Whether it is to relax or show a polite nature, whatever be the reason, the crossing of paws is a very cute pose that makes for great pics on social media! Perhaps, it’s just as well that we let some mysteries remain hidden with our furry friends and just enjoy the fruits!

Why Do Dogs Cross Their Paws

We hope that you learned here that a dog can cross its paws to convey and communicate pleasure, satisfaction, cheerfulness, easement, relief, intellect, etc. From this point of view, polite paws can convey a lot of behaviors. Ultimately their objective is to enhance comfort.

Lastly, we hope you liked this article and the information that we have shared. If you are a dog lover and have observed some other reasons why dogs cross their paws, share them with us.