Why Do Dogs Put Their Front Leg Up



Does your dog put one of his front legs up? If you have noticed your dog lifting one of his front legs and curling his paw under, there are a variety of reasons that can cause this behavior. Body language is one of the ways dogs communicate with each other and with humans. Learning the subtle signs your dog gives you through body language is essential to strengthening your bond. This secret language between you and your dog also reveals secrets your dog is keeping. The following information will help you reveal the messages your dog is sending you and how to react properly.

The Root of the Behavior

The lifting of the front paw is usually a signal that your dog is trying to tell you something. The first thing you want to rule out is if the behavior is due to an injury. Dogs that have an injured paw, joint pain, or broken leg often lift their injured limb to avoid putting pressure on it. As soon as you notice your dog lift his front leg, think about what he just did and if an injury could be possible. If your dog just came inside from playing out in the yard and is suddenly holding his front leg up, he could be telling you he hurt his paw or leg. Sometimes dogs can step on sharp objects, jump off something that is too high and land on their leg the wrong way, or simply get bit or stung by an insect such as a bee. It’s essential that you rule out an injury or bite. If you do find this is the cause of the lifting the front leg, you need to get your dog medical attention immediately. A broken or injured leg that goes untreated can become worse and cause further pain and issues. 

Once you rule out an injury, you need to focus on the body language your dog is using. Dogs are intelligent and repeat behavior they receive rewards for expressing. You might have accidentally trained your dog to pretend he’s injured to get attention from you. If you are running around the house busy and not paying attention to your dog, then suddenly you stop everything to cuddle him because you see his paw is up and could be injured, your dog might catch on that it’s the best way to get your attention. If your dog has his paw up several times throughout the day, he’s most likely trying to get your attention so he can get all the kisses and cuddles you can give him at the time. 

Encouraging the Behavior

There is no need to encourage or discourage this behavior in your dog. It’s a natural behavior and an excellent way for him to communicate with you. This behavior is very important since it can tell you he is injured and needs your help. Or, he can be an excellent actor and just be trying to get your attention. Even if your dog has acting abilities that can win him an Oscar, there is a reason he is expressing the behavior. As a pet parent, this is the time you need to evaluate the situation and make sure you are giving your dog plenty of attention.

Owners that spend several hours a day away from at work, then come home and ignore their dog because they are too busy cooking dinner, might not notice their adorable dog is feeling left out. If your dog suddenly raises his front leg after you just discovered he did something wrong like dug through the trash or pooped on your new rug, he is in a submissive stance. This is your dog telling you, “oops, I did something wrong and I know it.” If you don’t notice anything unusual, take a good look around the house, because chances are he did something somewhere that he is alerting you to. 

Other Solutions and Considerations

Pet parents that have a busy schedule often feel guilty about leaving their sweet dogs at home alone for several hours a day. Most pet parents would like to either work from home or quit their jobs to stay home with their beloved pets. But, the real world doesn’t work that way. The pet industry does provide alternatives that help keep your dog happy while you are at work or away from home for long periods of time. You can hire a dog walker to take your pup for a walk and get fresh air. You can also enroll your dog in a doggie daycare so he can spend time with other dogs in a safe environment. 


Your dog lifting up his front leg can tell you a variety of different things. It is up to you to decode his message. Pet parents gradually learn their dog’s body language and verbal queues throughout their lifetime. Whether your dog is an Oscar-winning performer or injured, he is trying to tell you something important.