Why Does My Puppy Growl When I Pick Him Up? | What To Do

Puppies are cuddly, cute, quirky, but most of all, a lot of fun. Puppies enjoy expressing their devotion to their humans, whether it’s by playing with their humans, cuddling, or following orders and doing tricks. So when your fur baby growls as they are being picked up, it can be a little perplexing. Do puppies despise being picked up? Is this something to be worried about? Why does my puppy growl when being picked up? 

Growling does not indicate aggression in your puppy. It’s merely a way for dogs to get their message through to you. When a dog growls, it’s usually because something is wrong with what you are doing with him.

The same idea applies when your puppy growls when being picked up. There are two main reasons why your dog growls when being taken up: medical or behavioral. It is often necessary to better comprehend what our dogs are trying to communicate in order to resolve behavioral issues, which can be resolved through improving interspecies communication.

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  • Pain

When a puppy is in pain, it is common for them to growl or even snap. If your dog has always tolerated being picked up, but now he appears to detest it and growls, it’s possible that you’re dealing with an underlying health condition. Your dog may be aching following a recent vaccine, or he may be suffering from muscle discomfort, stomach pain, or back or disc trouble. For dogs with long hair, you may want to check for mats or signs of irritation in the area where the dog is groomed.

What to do: If you notice changes in your dog’s behavior and can’t come up with a reasonable explanation, you should take him to the vet. Any injuries or health difficulties that your dog may be experiencing after being picked up can be ruled out with a veterinarian’s examination and diagnosis.

 

  • Mishandling

If you are handling your puppy carelessly, you risk injuring him, which will make him anxious to be picked up. Pets that aren’t used to being handled and canines that aren’t picked up properly may have a stiff, rigid physique and may growl or even attempt to bite when they are touched or lifted improperly. Puppies are not fond of having no lack of control like when they are off the ground so when you pick them up, they might be growling because they are scared.

What to do: When picking up your dog, the best approach to guarantee that your dog is comfortable is by holding him in a position that does not place any strain on their legs or back. Maintaining support for the chest of your dog is important, so place one hand on it while using the other hand to support the hind legs.  You don’t want to damage your dog, but you also don’t want to drop them, so use a firm yet gentle grip on them.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Dogs that have not been adequately handled when still with their mom and littermates, can exhibit fear and mistrust when being picked up later on in life. This is why it is crucial for breeders to handle and socialize puppies under their care correctly.

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  • Negative Experience

A puppy can be trained to tolerate, if not enjoy, being handled, but if anything unpleasant occurs when the puppy is being picked up, the puppy may interpret being picked up as a bad occurrence and behave in accordance with that classification. For example, if you tend to pick up your dog when it’s time to leave the dog park or when you wish to stop rough play, it’s like telling your puppy that picking him up is an indication that playtime is over.

What to do: The most important part of treatment is to make picking up your dog a joyful experience, so that he looks forward to it rather than dreading it. Desensitization and counterconditioning are frequently used to achieve this.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Dogs who have been abused in the past may growl as a fearful protection strategy.

  • Negative Consequences

Even if a dog may be taught that being picked up is something to be tolerated or even enjoyed, if something unpleasant happens while being picked up, the dog may then categorize being picked up as an unpleasant occurrence and react appropriately. Picking up your dog when it’s time to leave the dog park or when you want to stop rough play is a way of signaling to him that wonderful things come to an end the instant he is picked up.

What to do: Make picking up your dog a wonderful experience, so that he looks forward to it rather than dreading it. Desensitization and counterconditioning techniques are useful in this kind of situation. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: Dogs who have been subjected to abuse in the past are more likely to growl as a protective strategy when they are afraid.

Evaluating why your puppy growls when being picked up is a good start, but you should not stop there. If not addressed right away, growling can quickly turn into aggression and biting. Let’s look at how we may deal with pups growling upon being picked up, as well as other related concerns.

HOW DO YOU GET A PUPPY TO STOP GROWLING WHEN THEY ARE PICKED UP?

If you want a well-behaved and happy puppy, then teaching them to tolerate being picked up should be a component of their overall training. Here are some pointers on how to get your puppy used to being lifted up.

  1. ELIMINATE MEDICAL ISSUES 

To rule out any physical issues, always begin with a veterinarian exam. It is pointless to attempt behavior modification when there is an underlying medical problem.

  1. PROPER HANDLING

A growling puppy may be telling you he doesn’t like how he’s being picked up and handled by you. Most dogs do not prefer to be pulled up under their arms, despite the fact that this is a typical practice. Especially in smaller breeds, this can cause pain and suffering.

The desensitization technique works best in properly handling your puppy.  Desensitization in this case means making the act of picking him up less threatening. Instead of taking up your dog all at once, you’d gradually and carefully work on softly touching his chest, supporting his back legs, and then raising him slightly off the ground slowly until you can lift him off the ground.

  1. POSITIVE INTERRUPTION

Positive interrupters are an excellent technique commonly used by dog trainers to prevent your dog from displaying undesirable behaviors like growling. By encouraging and rewarding positive behavior, this technique prevents undesired behaviors. You won’t have to discipline your dog as a result of their misbehavior this way. Instead, you’ll be encouraging excellent behavior while replacing poor behavior.

  1. CHOOSE A COMMAND 

The choice of a command for clarity builds on the positive reinforcement strategy. With repetition and consistency, choosing a single magic word like “Quiet” or “Stop” will teach your puppy what you want them to do over time.

  1. APPRECIATE GOOD BEHAVIOR

Showing your appreciation everytime your puppy does not growl when you are picking him up will help your puppy understand that growling is not a good behavior. You can give him praises or treats whenever he does not growl. 

  1. PATIENCE AND CONSISTENCY

Your puppy needs to be able to trust you first before he can get comfortable with you picking him up. He needs to know that he is safe and can depend on you before he won’t be afraid of you picking him up. That’s why, even if it’s easier said than done at times, you should always treat your pet with kindness, gentleness, and patience.

Remember to speak in a pleasant, happy, and soothing tone when you are speaking to your dog in order to ensure that your dog feels comfortable in your presence. It’s critical to keep this behavioral therapy going even after your dog has become accustomed to being picked up. Make sure your dog enjoys being picked up, but not to the point where they demand to be carried all of the time.

WHAT NOT TO DO WHEN PICKING UP YOUR PUPPY

When it comes to picking up your puppy, there are a few things you should avoid.

  • Avoid Picking Up Your Puppy When They are UNAWARE

Many pups are frightened by the prospect of being lifted into the air especially if they are unaware that you are going to do it like when they are sleeping. By making sure that your puppy sees your hands, and is aware of what’s coming next, you’ll avoid accidentally surprising your puppy when you pick them up.

  • Avoid Picking Up Your Puppy When They are Getting Naughty

Another common error made by dog owners is picking up their puppy when it is misbehaving. What would you do if you could no longer pick them up? Instead of picking up your puppy while they’re chewing on anything, practice redirecting them to something else or eliminating the object they’re chewing on from their environment.

  • Don’t Scold Your Puppy for Growling

Growling is a way for a puppy to communicate and if your puppy is getting reprimanded everytime he growls, the tendency is they won’t try to communicate anymore and will go straight to biting whenever they are afraid or threatened.  The goal is to alter your dog’s attitude toward being lifted up and not for your puppy to stop growling when he is not comfortable with the situation. If you react aggressively to their growling, it will just reinforce your dog’s resistance to being picked up.

Does a Puppy Growl When Being Picked Up to Show Dominance? 

Despite popular belief, puppies growling to demonstrate authority is a myth that is completely untrue. When puppies growl, it usually is due to behavioral concerns explained in the first part of this article. Using the scruff shake or the alpha roll to discourage your puppy from growling because you think he wants to be dominant will only make your puppy distrust you more.

Should I Scold My Puppy for Growling While He’s Being Picked Up?

Growling is a form of communication for your puppy, and he should not be penalized for it, as stated previously. Growling should never be suppressed in dogs since it will result in a dog who may bite without warning.

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