Why doesn’t my dog let me pick him up?

If you’ve ever owned or been around dogs, you’ve likely noticed that some love being picked up while others shun away from it as though it’s the most frightening experience on Earth. If your dog falls into the latter category, it can be a bewildering experience, especially if you’re trying to provide care and love or want to cuddle. A dog also likes to be picked up. But what are the underlying reasons for such behavior, and how can you help your dog become more comfortable? This article sheds light on these questions.

1. Trust and Past Trauma

For many dogs, the mere act of being lifted off the ground is intimidating. It takes away their control and can evoke feelings of vulnerability. If a dog has had traumatic experiences—like rough handling, being dropped, or negative interactions when lifted—they’ll likely be wary of being picked up again. It’s crucial to approach dogs gently and patiently, especially if unsure of their past.

2. Physical Discomfort or Pain

Another reason dogs may dislike being held is due to physical pain or discomfort. If your pet has an injury or a condition like arthritis, picking them up could exacerbate their pain. It’s always essential to be mindful of your dog’s health and any potential physical issues they may be experiencing. If your dog suddenly starts resisting being picked up, it might be worth consulting a vet to rule out any health concerns.

3. Fear of Heights

Yes, some dogs can be scared of heights! Being several feet off the ground can be an unsettling experience for a dog, especially for breeds closer to the ground, like Dachshunds or Corgis. It’s a new world up there, and they might not like the view.

4. Natural Instinct

In the wild, being lifted off the ground can signal danger. Predators often pick up prey animals, so some dogs may have a deeply ingrained instinct to resist being lifted. Those age-old instincts might be hard to overcome even if your dog is safe in your loving arms.

5. Lack of Familiarity or Training

Some dogs aren’t used to being picked up. The sensation could be unfamiliar and scary if they weren’t held often as puppies or rescue dogs without much human interaction. Training and acclimatization can help in these situations.

Making Your Dog More Comfortable:

1. Start Slow: Start slowly to get your dog accustomed to being held. Begin by touching and gently lifting one part of their body at a time, rewarding them with treats and praise.

2. Positive Association: Make sure every experience your dog has with being lifted is positive. When you pick them up, offer treats, praises, or their favorite toy.

3. Proper Technique: Make sure you’re holding your dog in a way that feels secure to them. Support their back and hindquarters, ensuring they don’t feel like they’re going to fall.

4. Consult a Professional: If your dog shows aggressive or highly fearful behaviors when you try to pick them up, it might be a good idea to consult a professional dog trainer or behaviorist. They can offer tailored advice and training techniques.


Understanding and respecting your dog’s boundaries is key to a happy and trusting relationship. While it might be disappointing that your furry friend doesn’t enjoy a lift now and then, remember that their comfort and safety come first. With patience, understanding, and the right approach, it’s possible to help your dog become more at ease with being picked up, but always prioritize their well-being above all else.

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