Lack of Handling
All puppies should be accustomed to being handled through positive associations. These positive experiences will pave the path to pleasant vet visits, grooming appointments, and dog owners will benefit as well as this will help encourage cooperation when being touched and picked up. These positive handling sessions should start at the breeders home when the pups are still with their mother and littermates.
A breeder gets the young pups used to being touched and handled, and then its up to the owner to continue these handling exercises during the critical socialization period.
Puppies and dogs who arent accustomed to being handled and dogs not being picked up correctly will have a tense, rigid body and may growl and even attempt to bite when theyre being touched and lifted. After all, consider that that lack of control when hes off the ground can be a scary experience for dogs not used to it!
A dog may be trained to tolerate or even enjoy being handled, but if something unpleasant happens when being picked up, the dog may then categorize being picked up as a negative event and react accordingly.
For instance, lets say you are picking up a small dog, and as you grab him from the front leg and lift him, he squeals in pain. It wasnt your intent to hurt the little guy, but its often forgotten how delicate small dogs can be.
If you often pick your dog up to do something unpleasant such as a nail trim, this may be a factor too. It, therefore, shouldnt come as a surprise if next time, the dog will naturally be more reluctant to being picked up and may emit a small growl.
Consider as well, that when dogs are restrained such as when theyre being picked up, their flight option is taken away so all thats left is to fight. For more on this, read the fight or flight response in dogs.
Why won’t my dog let me pick him up?
There are numerous reasons why a dog may not let you pick them up. Here are a few to consider first:
If your dog had other owners or was at a pound or shelter for a long time before you became their parent, they may have had a negative experience with being lifted. They may have been abused or handled roughly.
If a dog is in discomfort or pain, they’re not going to want to be lifted. Injury would be more likely if your dog has started doing it suddenly and if it has been showing other signs of having an injury such as limping. It could also be the case that you have been picking it up in a painful manner which would be more likely if you have been picking it up aggressively.
Some dogs actually have a fear of heights. Others are simply scared about being lifted because it’s never happened to them before, and they don’t feel secure.
If you surprise a dog and try to lift them up from behind without them seeing you, they are inevitably going to be scared and may nip at you, growl, or attempt to run away.
Puppy Growls When Picked Up, Moved, or Touched
One of the most difficult and heartbreaking issues dog owners may face is a bite from their beloved pup.
There are many reasons your dog may bite you. She could be guarding her resources, she may be feeling anxious or stressed, or maybe she is redirecting her aggressive behavior toward you.
This not only includes the things you’ll want to do in the immediate aftermath, but we’ll discuss some of the reasons your dog may have bitten you, and what steps you’ll want to take to address the problem.
We’ll even talk about the most horrifying question an owner may ever be compelled to ask: Do I have to put my dog down?