When is it OK to pick up my dog?

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Author: Laure-Anne Viselé
Written on: 17 Feb 2020

Is it OK to pick up your dog? Actually, that depends.  

My dog is scared, and I want to help him

In the following situations, it is absolutely a good idea to pick up your dog, as long as… 

  • Your dog does feel safe in your arms. If he hates it, you’re not exactly reassuring him by picking him up. 
  • You also look at the reason why your dog dislikes the situation that made you want to pick him up in the first place, and you work on it! Otherwise, your dog will be dependent on being picked up for the rest of his life. 
    • Do NOT force your dog do confront the problem sitaution. Do not even encourage him to. This makes things a million times worse.
    • Just work on remedial socialisation (e.g. via our make-me-brave protocol).
  • You yourself act calm and confident. Picking up your dog whilst shrieking and panicking isn’t exactly going to have a calming effect
  • You try to pick up the dog BEFORE he barks or growls or otherwise acts crazy. Otherwise, your dog is learning to act like an idiot in order to be picked up
  • Your dog doesn’t weigh 60 pound! 

My dog is being attacked by a larger dog: do I pick him up?

This one is tricky:

  • If the attacker is determined to get your dog, you can get injured by getting in the way.
  • The attacker can be further enticed by the upwards movement of your dog.
  • The attacker can see your dog even less as a dog and more as a toy/prey as a result. 

On the other hand, in some cases, your dog could get seriously injured if you do nothing.  

Simply put, it is a dangerous situation for which there is no ideal, safe answer.  

So is it OK or not to pick up my dog?

In short: 

  • Choose for avoiding the problem situation in the first place, so that picking up is not even necessary. Just walk away sooner.  
  • If you are stuck in a situation that your dog clearly can’t handle, then please absolutely pick him up (but do so calmly!)
  • If you are often confronted with that situation, it’s time to work on it. Do so in a measured way, and certainly NOT by pushing your dog in at the deep end. 


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