Why Do Dogs Cross Their Paws?

Dogs are truly one of the best pets you can have.  Not only do they love you and play with you, they have some seemingly funny habits that can be real head scratchers.  For example, why does a dog feel the need to sit on you?

Along with their funny behavior, dogs can also contort themselves into to some positions that are endearing, make you giggle too. 

So, what about dogs crossing their paws?  Why do dogs cross their paws?  The quick and easy answer is: Dogs cross their paws when they are getting into a more comfortable position.

Why Is Crossing Paws Comfortable For Dogs?

Crossing front legs is the result of your dog getting into a more comfortable position.  When they are laying down a lot of their weight is carried by the shoulders straight down the leg to the ground. 

To distribute their weight better, dogs push their elbows out away from their body to relieve the discomfort in their shoulders.  The farther they push their elbows out, the closer their paws will come closer together and may cross.

Do Dogs Cross Their Paws To Express Themselves?

While it is cute when your dog crosses their paws and has a big smile on its face, the ‘polite paws’ posture by itself doesn’t mean they are happy.  You need to read more of your dog’s body language and face to understand how they are feeling and what they may be trying to tell you.

My dog crosses his paws when he is happy.  And other times he will cross his front legs and lay his head down on them, sulking as I leave the house.  My neighbors old dog does something similar when there are bigger dogs around. 

In these situations, the dogs certainly aren’t happy and content, nor does their paw crossing paint the overall picture either. 

Do All Dogs Cross Their Paws?

Some dogs are likely to never or rarely cross their paws.  Usually this is because of their breed.  There are some breeds the don’t have the type of bodies that would make them more comfortable if they pushed their elbows far enough to cross their legs.

Wide-bodied and short-legged breeds are much less likely to cross paws.  Most Cardigan Welsh Corgis would have to really make an effort to cross paws. 

Can You Train A Dog To Cross Paws?

It isn’t that difficult to train a dog to cross paws.  The slow way to do it will be to give your dog positive reinforcement when they have their paws crossed.  Say your command and give your good boy or good girl a treat or an ear scratch.  You’ll need to stay consistent, so they catch on to what is going on.

Video Tutorial

If you want quicker results, you’ll need to spend some time actively training your dog.  Here’s a quick, video example of how to go about it:

Teach Dog to Cross Their Paws Video Tutorial

If you need more details, Udemy has some good online dog training courses.

Summary: Why Do Dogs Cross Their Front Legs?

Why do dogs cross their front legs?  It happens when they get in a more comfortable position.  To get the weight off their shoulders, a dog will shift their elbows out which causes their paws to cross.

Crossing paws by itself, isn’t an indication of a happy, sad, or scared dog.  You need to read all of you dog’s body language to see what he or she is trying to tell you. 

If you think polite paws make your dog look extra lovable, you can easily train most dogs to cross its paws.  Just remember, for short-legged and wide-bodied breeds it’s not always possible for them to do it. 

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