Dog Lifestyle, Pets and Family

Why Dog Lovers Should Love to Celebrate Holding Hands (Paws) Day

National Hand Holding Day is celebrated every year on August 9, this is a day that was created to encourage people to hold hands as a way to emphasize the importance of touch and encourage affection towards loved ones.  

Two hands of a Caucasian person together with a brown dog paw sitting in the hands being held.

However, it makes perfect sense to us as dog lovers to rip off this day as our own since holding hands with a loved one can certainly include a dog, and holding a paw has so many great benefits!

What Your Dog Is Trying to Say When Your Dog Tries to Hold Your Hand

Person with outstretched hands holding onto dog paws.

Dogs seem to have two primary ways that they try to hold your hand and each behavior means something slightly different.  Dogs either try to mouth your hand very gently or put their paw on your hand, arm or leg when you are petting them.  

According to JenLovespets when you are petting your dog, and he puts his paw on your arm or leg, he is kind of like petting you back. While most dogs can’t do an actual stroking action, laying their paw on you is a sign of affection, closeness, and trust. This is his way of creating a special bond with you. It can also signal I like that, don’t stop. Especially if you’ve been petting him for several minutes, and you stop, and he reaches for your hand, he’s telling you more, please!

When your dog takes your hand and gently mouths your hand, kind of like trying to hold your hand with their mouth they usually want attention.  They could also be directing your attention to something they want to do, like go for a walk.  

Four Benefits of Holding a Paw With Your Dog

Researchers have identified benefits to holding hands that we think equally apply to holding your dog’s paws.  

Brown furry dog paw being held by a woman.
There are so many benefits to holding your dogs paws

Holding our Dog’s Paws Helps Us Express Love

Holding our dog’s paws, like when people hold hands is a simple yet powerful way to show affection.  Just like petting your dog holding their paw shows affection.

Holding Paws Reduces Stress

Studies have shown that holding hands releases oxytocin into the body, which simply has to equate equally to holding your furry friend’s paws.  Oxytocin is a hormone that is capable of lowering stress and anxiety levels.  In our article How Pets Help With Mental Health we discuss the many ways that researchers are discovering how pets help with mental health, including:

  • Hugging and cuddling with a pet, who won’t judge you for your feelings, is cathartic. It helps people get through rough times and depression. 
  • Pets love us unconditionally. The depth of this love is a continuous joy. 
  • Pets provide the health benefits of daily walks and the social delights of meeting other dog walkers. 
  • The responsibility of caring for pets teaches kids to be responsible, kind, and compassionate. 
  • Pets also reduce symptoms of anxiety or depression, giving people a reason to get up in the morning.
  • Pets can provide you with emotional support as you go about your day. Cuddling up with a pet can boost your spirits when you are feeling low.

See other articles on Pets and Mental Health:

Can Pets Help with Depression and Anxiety?

Learn How Pets Make Us Happy

Holding Paws is a Way to Bond With Your Dog

Physically connecting our bodies with another person or a dog also creates emotional and psychological bonds with the people and dogs that we love. 

See other articles on Bonding and Enjoying Life With a Dog:

7 Ways Dogs Help With Back to School Transition

Dog Art at Coachella Music Festival by Oana Stănescu

Holding Paws Is a Way to Get Your Dog Accustomed to Pet Care 

Brown dog with blue collar has paw out stretched and being held by a person.

You may have been through the struggle of cutting your dog’s nails (we have a laugh about this and funny ways to manage in Motherpuppin’ Adorable: What to do when your dog is better than everyone else’s) but the struggle can be real.  The more you touch and play with your dog’s paws the easier dog care becomes.  

Try painting your dog’s nails for some fun!


Holding Hands Day, like other days that celebrate and bring attention to certain common and routine things in our life (World Pizza Day! National Dog Day, National Mutt Day, Peanut Butter Day and so much more) can bring attention to it and the benefits that we may overlook in the bustle.  Take the time this Hold Your Hands Day to stop a moment and hold a paw!

Holding Dog Paws FAQs

Do dogs like it when you hold their paw?

Your dog may take some getting used to you holding their paws, if they do and get comfortable with it then nail clipping, baths and putting on and removing booties are so much easier. If you do get your dog used to holding their paws then they may learn to also like it when you do hold their paws.

Why do dogs want you to hold their paws?

If your dog is comfortable with you holding their paws they may be trying to have you hold their paws as a way of telling you something or offering affection.

Why does my dog paw me when I stop petting him?

Dogs paw you when you stop petting them to tell you to keep going. A dog may be comfortable thinking he can direct you when doing this like Dozer, a rat terrier who is under the belief everyone should do what he asks all of the time. Dozer a rat terrier getting his head patted by a boy in a blue shirt.