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This is an interesting article. My cats do this too. When I pet my dogs their paws often reach out to me. I always thought that meant they want more…

It’s common knowledge that dogs wag their tails when they’re happy and tuck them in when they’re anxious. Some body language, however, is a little less clear. Like have you ever wondered what it really means when they put their paw on you? Turns out, it could be a sign of affection that translates into the three words that we long to hear: “I love you.”

Rebecca Forrest, an assistance dog trainer for The Dog Clinic, wrote about how your dog’s paw could be a sign of thanks for the petting they’ve already received—and want to show that the loving feeling is mutual. “Studies have shown ‘feel good’ hormones such as oxytocin are released by both human and dog during a petting session,” wrote Forrest. “By putting his paw on you whilst you are stroking him, he is further extending contact and reciprocating affection back.”

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Nicoletta Richardson is the Senior Associate Editor of News and Culture at Apartment Therapy.