Do dogs like being picked up? (answered!)

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Do dogs like being picked up? To be honest, if dogs like being picked up or not have countless factors involved, which as a dog parent, you must know.

Whenever I receive a query related to a dog’s behavior in general, I approach it by making a detailed post on this blog to share all the jumbled-up bits and pieces of information under one roof.

In this article, I am going to elaborate on one of the most asked questions in my inbox: do all dogs like being picked up?

Let’s find out.

Do Dogs Like Being Picked Up?

Do dogs like being picked up - How do dogs feel about being picked up

Yes, most dogs seem to like being picked up. However, whether a dog enjoys being picked up has many contributing factors, such as which breed you have, if you have raised the dog or adopted it, the dog’s mood, the dog’s personality, and the way you approach your dog to pick up.     

Some dogs prefer physical interaction with humans more than their counterparts. For example, golden retrievers, Labrador, Greyhound, Pit bulls, and Collies just can’t let go of their owners and want to be held all the time. 

Whereas, Scottish terrier, Chow-chow, Fox-hound, and Shar-pei are not very snugly and prefer to be on their own mostly. If you want a super-cuddly dog who wants to be picked up like babies, you may look into dog breeds that like to initiate physical interaction.

For some dogs, being picked up is a gray area, and they are neutral, which means they don’t mind being held, but it does not excite them as well. Others may hate it, and they outright refuse to pick up by showing aversion signs.

Then, some dogs cannot curtail their excitement, especially when the owner approaches them after a long day at work. You may have seen dogs jumping on their owners and wanting to be picked up by them immediately.

Raising dogs requires a lot of patience and a keen eye for noticing what makes your fur baby comfortable and which are the behaviors they clearly dislike.

How Do Dogs Feel About Being Picked Up?

Dogs cram through social behaviors via associative learning, which means they repeat rewarded behaviors. Thus, whichever action is associated with a pleasant memory and makes them feel comfortable tends to be repeated

In the same way, actions linked with discomfort and painful feelings are avoided by them.

You may offer a corrective emotional experience to your dog by associating positive feelings with being picked up. Be very gentle and make sure your nails are well-trimmed so you may not accidentally scratch your dog’s back. 

Then, pick your dog up in your arms gently and offer any treatment. Keep repeating this practice until being picked up becomes an enjoyable experience for your dog.

Signs That Show That The Dog Does Not Like Being Picked up

If the previous owner mishandled the dog or picked him up roughly, the chances are high that the dog wouldn’t like being picked up and may protest. 

Yelping, howling, barking, showing half-moon eyes, or licking lips upon being picked up indicate that he struggles and does not want to be held.  

Be watchful of these signs and instantly put him back on the floor if you feel your dog is restless and unhappy.

3 Reasons Why a Dog Does Not Like Being Picked up

Do dogs like being picked up - How do dogs feel about being picked up

#1 You Pick up Your Dog in The Wrong Way

Always lift your dog by sliding your dominant arm under his chest and support his back against your body using the other arm. This way, your dog would feel safe, and his body wouldn’t hang in the air while you lift him.

Avoid picking your dog up by his limbs. Lifting a dog by its front limbs can cause the limbs and joints to degenerate and may lead to the early onset of arthritis.

#2 You Are Missing The Signs of Discomfort  

A dog’s personality is another point to ponder upon before deciding if the dog likes being picked up or not. Some dogs are dramatic and yelp out loud even in the slightest discomfort, while others may suffer in silence, so “if he isn’t yelping, he isn’t hurting” is not the shoe that fits all. Notice the signs of discomfort and reattempt later when the dog seems ready.

#3 Your Dog Is Not Ready yet

You may not allow strangers and children to pick your dog up if he is currently in the training phase and you are trying to teach him to make peace with it. One negative experience while being picked up could spoil all your prior efforts.

How to Get Your Dog to Like Being Picked up

Do dogs like being picked up varies greatly with their life experiences and is directly proportional to the number of positive experiences they have had while being lifted by humans. 

Rough handling can scare the dog off while approaching gently, making him want to be held around the clock.

Offer your dog his favorite toy or treat if he allows you to pick him up. This way, your dog will ultimately start liking it, as this strengthens the positive association between a dog’s feelings and picking up behavior.

Tips to Properly Pick up Your Dog (Dos & Don’ts)

  1. Extend your arm towards the dog and let him come to you instead of picking him up forcefully.
  2. Lift your dog up by supporting his body with both of your arms, and keep the dog close to you for added safety. Being nice is the key.
  3. Strictly avoid picking your dog up with his arms while the dog’s body is hanging in the air.
  4. Offer a reward if your dog lets you pick him up.

FAQs About Picking up a Dog

FAQ - What Breed is My Dog How to Identify ANY Dog Breed - Is my dog a pure breed (4)

Why Do Dogs Growl When Picked Up?

Your dog wants to communicate his message that he does not like being picked up via growling. If you ignore minimal growls and keep picking him up, it will eventually increase. 

Why Does My Dog Want to Be Picked Up?

Dogs love human encounters, provided they feel safe and comfortable. A dog always welcomes affectionate physical interaction, and it is one way for them to express their loyalty and compassion for their valued owner.

Why Does My Dog Back Away When I Try to Pick Him Up?

Picking up a dog takes away a huge part of their freedom, so you have to understand that even the friendliest dog wouldn’t like to be held for a long time and would want to roam around freely. Let your dog decide the frequency and try to match his pace to ensure a positive concurrence.

How Can You Tell if Your Dog Likes to Be Picked Up?

If your dog does not yelp or shows signs of struggles while being picked up rather gets excited, it means he enjoys the attention and wants you to pick him up more often.

Why Do Big Dogs Not Like Being Picked Up?

Bigger dogs may look strong, but their limbs are not designed to support the whole body weight while the body is dangling in the air. Picking up a dog by his limbs can convert it into a painful experience. 


Dogs are witty creatures with opinionated personalities and strong sentiments. You may not want to hurt your dog or create trust issues by overdoing any action, even though you intend to communicate love and affection. 

Thus, always let your dog decide if he wants to be picked up or not. If he does not show any sign of discomfort upon being picked up, then go ahead.

Seeing a happy dog with cheerful dog parents always appalled me and worked as a driving force behind my efforts to make this dog-parent journey smooth for my people.

I am thankful for your credulous eyes on my posts.

Let me know if you have any other query.

Goodbye until the next read.

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Paws up for sharing this dog-related article!
Housam Ayouni
Housam Ayouni

I am a professional in the field of canine behavior and care with many years of experience. Through my dog blog, which has reached over one million dog owners, I offer practical tips and guidance to support dog owners in creating strong, positive relationships with their pets and promoting the well-being and happiness of all dogs. My goal is to help dog owners create a harmonious and fulfilling life with their furry companions.

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