Every dog needs to be picked up once in a while. Be it just to load your dog in the van, or because you need to take him to the vet when he’s hurt, every dog owner should know the correct way to pick up their pet. This is even more important considering some dogs can grow to large sizes and have immense weight, which can lead to pain and injury if they are picked up incorrectly. Even if you think you’ve been doing it right all this time, it can be surprising how many people might not know some important points. Before knowing how to pick up dogs correctly though, here are some things you should NOT do:
Don’t Involve Legs
Your dog’s legs are in no way capable of supporting his entire body weight, nor are they intended to act as suspension devices. A lot of children might lift up a dog by its legs, which could cause a lot of discomfort and pain for the dog. Adults tend to life a dog up by the armpits, as they would with a child. However, this method strains the muscles in the front legs and spine, which in the worst cases can result in torn ligaments, and dislocated shoulders and elbows. Moreover, there is a risk of dropping a dog in this method. Dogs that suffer from degenerative joint diseases or arthritis also face more pain when picked up like this.
Since mothers carry their puppies by the scruff of the neck in the first few weeks of their life, a lot of people assume they can do this to their dog. Though you might not do so with large, fully grown dogs, it is still unnatural, painful and uncomfortable for larger puppies when they’re picked up this way.
No Collar Or Tail
Pulling a dog up by the collar to lift can cause the air supply to be cut off and lead to choking. Moreover, it can do serious permanent damage to the very delicate organs located in the neck, larynx and trachea. A collar can’t serve as a “handle” to lift him up. Picking a dog up by the tail is one of the worst things you can do to your dog: a serious injury could leave the tail hanging limply, no longer moving, and even affects the dog’s ability to defecate and urinate by himself.
If you think that your dog has been fine with the way you’ve been picking him up, even if it has been incorrect, it doesn’t actually mean he is alright with it or different from other dogs. Dogs can endure a great deal of discomfort or pain without yelping or making any noise. Dogs tend to send signals through actions like yawning, lip licking, looking away, or struggling to get free. These are signs that your dog is at the least feeling anxious, or at the most feeling a lot of pain.
Below are steps to pick your dog up the right way:
Tiny And Low To The Ground Dogs
A verbal cue can work wonders when you have to lift up super small dogs. They are often startled when they’re suddenly picked up, which can cause a great amount of stress. Using one single word for a cue can be enough, though, and lets them know they are going up. While training, put your hands on your pet, say the cue word, and apply a bit of pressure so he knows he is about to be picked up. When you practice this enough, the verbal cue is incorporated, and reduces the stress a small dog faces when picked up.
Small To Medium Sized Dogs
If your dog weighs less than 25 pounds, slide your dominant arm under his chest and between his front legs, and tuck his backside between your arm and body as you lift him. If your dog is between 25 pounds and 40 pounds, place your dominant arm behind the back legs, and slide the other arm in the crook of the front legs. Keep him close to your chest as you lift him.
If your dog weighs more than 40 pounds, it is always better when 2 people lift him together. One person should lift under the dog’s chest while the other person lifts the dog’s abdomen and back end. Make sure you properly support the dog as you pick him up, as he will struggle more when he feels unsupported.