As a dog owner, it’s only natural to want to pick up your dog and hug them. This is a really lovely thing for most dog lovers, allowing us to get close to the dog and give them a friendly hug.
But do they really like being picked up?
While some dogs love being picked up, others don’t. Dogs that like being will be relaxed if you do so. Dogs that don’t like it will show signs of distress (that might be quite subtle). So, it’s important to watch their body language to learn if it’s okay to pick them up or not.
This post will explain why your dog may not like being picked up and the signs to look out for. It will also show you how to train your pet pooch to enjoy being held.
How to Tell if Your Dog Likes Being Picked Up (or Not)
As mentioned earlier, not all dogs will want to be carried or picked up. If a dog likes it, they will either seem happy or at least content when you have them in your arms.
Some dogs will like it so much that they will follow you around or jump on you until you pick them up.
On the other hand, other dogs who don’t like being scooped up will express signs that let you know their dislike.
Some of these will be obvious, like running away or growling at you. But some dogs will display more subtle and harder-to-spot signs of distress.
These signs of discomfort can include stiffening of muscles, yawning, leaning away, lip licking, and barking. Or they may tuck their tails between their legs, lower their ears, or turn their heads away from you.
Whenever you spot any of these signs, you should stop trying to pick them up. It’s not fair on the dog to pick them up if they don’t like it.
Why Your Dog Doesn’t Like Being Picked Up
If your dog does not like being picked up or carried, it is probably due to one of the following reasons.
1. It Might be Painful or Uncomfortable
You could be holding them in an uncomfortable way resulting in some pain or discomfort for the dog. Or there could be an underlying injury or illness causing your dog issues when being carried.
If you think this might be the case, you should take them to the very for a thorough checkup. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
If you are in financial difficulty and are worried about vet bills, this website has helpful resources for charities to help you pay your bills. (If you don’t live in the US, you can use Google to find similar help in your country).
2. They Might Have Had a Traumatic Experience
Your dog may dislike being carried because of a scary experience. They might have been picked up in a scary or painful way in the past and don’t want it to happen again.
Some dogs will also associate being picked up with uncomfortable experiences like getting an injection at the vet or having their nails trimmed, so they might struggle until they are put down.
3. The Dog Might Just Not Be Used To It
This could be especially true for a rescue dog or a foster dog that has come into your life as an adult. They may not have been picked up much in the past, so they are not used to it and naturally wary of it.
If this is the case, it should be easy to resolve (more on this coming up).
3. The Dog Might Just Not Enjoy Being Picked Up
Just as all humans have their individual preferences, the same can be said for dogs. They all have their personalities with different likes and dislikes.
Sometimes as dog owners, we just have to accept that our dogs are the way they are, and there is nothing that we can do to change it.
Teaching Your Dog To Get Used to Getting Picked Up
If your dog doesn’t like being picked up, you should avoid doing it as much as possible. However, sometimes it might be necessary, so it can be worth using some training to get them used to it.
You can follow this training process:
- Pick a time and location where the dog is relaxed, calm, and can’t run away.
- A quiet room with the door closed is perfect for this.
- Gently pick them up (following the advice below) and put them down immediately.
- Then give them lots of praise and a tasty treat.
- Repeat this multiple times until they get used to it.
- Then pick them up but this time hold them for about thirty seconds.
- Give them lots of praise and another treat, then put them down and give them more praise and treats.
- Repeat this multiple times until they get used to it.
- Then repeat this step, but keep the dog in your arms for longer and longer.
- Repeat this every day for a week and then once a week for a month or so.
- After this, your dog might not enjoy being picked up, but they should at least hate it a bit less.
How To Properly Pick Up Your Dog
Whenever you pick your pooch up, it’s essential to do it properly to minimize pain and stress and make it as comfortable for them as you can.
Here’s a YouTube video that demonstrates the process clearly:
Always make sure that you don’t lift your pooch by its legs, tail, or neck. Doing so can put a lot of stress on specific muscles and ligaments, resulting in pain or even injury.
Also, remember that it is important to teach your children and other family members the proper ways of picking the dog up.
Final Thoughts on Dogs Liking Being Picked Up
So dogs will naturally enjoy being picked up, and some won’t. For those who don’t like it, you can use training to get them used to it.
Tim is a proud, vetted, and experienced dog foster carer for a charity helping dog owners escape domestic abuse.
He has years of experience training and caring for dogs, both his own and other people’s.
He is an expert in canine behavior and is highly skilled in dealing with all dogs but specializes in the difficult ones that other people may struggle with.
When he isn’t fostering dogs, he is making friends with other people’s pups!