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Do Dogs Like Being Picked Up or Held? Vet-Verified Facts & Tips

Written by: Jessica Rossetti

Last Updated on May 23, 2024 by Dogster Team

woman carrying smiling dog

Do Dogs Like Being Picked Up or Held? Vet-Verified Facts & Tips


Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo


Dr. Paola Cuevas

Veterinarian, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Whether a dog likes to be picked up or held depends on the breed and their unique personality. Some dogs enjoy being picked up and cradled. Others, especially dogs that are nervous and anxious by nature, may be less enthused.

Once you know your dog’s preferences, you’ll know if they like being picked up and held. In this article, we’ll look at the signs your dog can exhibit to indicate that they either like or don’t like being picked up.


When Dogs Like to Be Picked Up and Held

Small dogs often enjoy being picked up and held more than large breeds. Dogs like Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, and Pugs may even go to their owners and jump up on them, asking to be picked up. This gives them a chance to be closer to their owners and makes them feel safe and loved.

A clear sign that a dog is enjoying being held is when they are relaxed in your arms. If they are calm and content, they won’t struggle to get down or squirm around because they feel nervous.

When Dogs Don’t Like to Be Picked Up and Held

There are clear signs that a dog is not interested in being picked up and held. The action can make the dog feel confined and threatened, and some dogs don’t like their space invaded. It’s best to give your dog space and stop trying to pick them up when they exhibit the following signs:

  • Tenseness: They have a stiff body and muscles and do not relax when you touch them.
  • Flattened ears: Lowered ears are a sign of stress and unease, especially if the dog turns their head away from you.
  • Tucked tail: Dogs indicate they’re happy with a wagging tail, and a lowered or tucked tail means they are uneasy.
  • Yawning: Dogs yawn, sometimes repeatedly, when they’re feeling stressed and uncomfortable.
person rubbing dog's stomach
Image Credit: Tursk Aleksandra, Shutterstock


The Top 3 Reasons Dogs Don’t Like Being Picked Up

1. You’re Doing It Wrong

If you’re lifting your dog incorrectly, they won’t like being picked up. Lift your dog with your dominant arm under their chest, and use your other hand to support the back. Never lift your dog by their limbs, the scruff of their neck, or their tail.

A dog is lying on the grass with its frisbee and looks very frightened
Image Credit: JakubD, Shutterstock

2. You Don’t Notice Their Cues

If your dog is displaying signs of not liking what you’re doing and you’re ignoring them, they will be less likely to let you pick them up in the future. Focus on your dog to make sure they seem comfortable with being held. If they show any signs of discomfort, set them down right away.

3. It’s Too Soon

Maybe you just got your dog and they aren’t comfortable with you yet. Maybe your dog lets you pick them up but won’t do the same for strangers. Your dog may never be comfortable with anyone, even you, picking them up, but they should be given patience in the beginning so they have time to get used to the activity. You’ll know if they are uncomfortable by paying attention to their body language.

white fluffy dog looking cute lying on his back for a tummy rub
Image Credit: David Charles Cottam, Shutterstock



Some dogs never like to be picked up or held, while others ask for it and enjoy being in their owner’s arms. If your dog doesn’t enjoy being picked up, it doesn’t mean they don’t like affection shown to them in other ways, like petting and snuggling.

If you have a dog that prefers not to be picked up, respect their wishes, and don’t try to force anything on them. If you have a dog that does like being held, always look for signs that they have had enough and would like to get down. By respecting their feelings, you’ll ensure they always enjoy being picked up and held.

Featured Image Credit: Rebecca Scholz, Pixabay

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