First Step in Safely Lifting and Carrying Dogs of Any Weight

Lifting and carrying a dog, whether for grooming, medical care, or just cuddles, is a common task for dog owners and professionals alike. However, many people aren’t aware of the proper techniques to ensure the safety and comfort of both the dog and the person lifting them. 

Whether you’re dealing with a pint-sized Pomeranian or a robust Rottweiler, the first step in picking up and carrying a dog is crucial. 

In this article, we’ll delve into this essential first step and explore the best practices to ensure a smooth and secure lift, keeping your furry friend happy and injury-free.

Understanding the Significance of the First Step

Before diving into the actual techniques, it’s important to understand why the first step matters so much. Just like humans, dogs have their comfort zones and personal spaces. Sudden and improper lifting can lead to anxiety, stress, and even physical injury for the dog. 

Additionally, lifting a dog incorrectly can strain your own body, leading to back, shoulder, and wrist discomfort. By mastering the first step, you set the foundation for a safe and comfortable lifting experience.

Approach and Calmness

The very first thing you must do before attempting to lift your dog is to approach them with a calm demeanor. Dogs are incredibly intuitive creatures and can sense your energy. 

If you’re anxious or hurried, your dog is likely to become stressed, making the lifting process difficult. Instead, approach your dog slowly and speak to them in soothing tones. Allow them to sniff your hand and get comfortable with your presence.

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Assess Your Dog’s Weight and Size

The second step is to assess your dog’s weight and size. Understanding these factors will help you determine the appropriate lifting technique. Smaller dogs can often be lifted with one hand under their chest, while larger dogs might require a two-person lift or additional support. 

Be realistic about your own strength and capabilities as well. If your dog is too heavy for you to lift comfortably, it’s best to ask for help or use alternative methods, such as using a sling or harness.

Choose the Right Lifting Technique

Once you’ve assessed your dog’s weight and size, it’s time to choose the right lifting technique. Here are three common methods:

The Chest Hold: This technique is suitable for small to medium-sized dogs. With one hand under their chest and the other supporting their hindquarters, lift your dog gently, keeping them close to your body. This provides stability and comfort for your dog.

The Cradle Hold: Ideal for small dogs, this technique involves gently cradling your dog in your arms, supporting their back with one forearm and using your other arm to hold their hindquarters.

The Two-Person Lift: For larger dogs or dogs with mobility issues, a two-person lift is safer. One person supports the front half of the dog, while the other supports the back half, coordinating your movements to lift and carry the dog together.

Maintain Proper Body Mechanics

Regardless of the lifting technique you choose, it’s essential to maintain proper body mechanics. Bend at your knees, not your waist, to avoid straining your back. 

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Keep your core engaged and your back straight. Avoid any sudden or jerky movements, as these can startle your dog. Communicate with your dog using soothing words throughout the process to keep them at ease.

Be Mindful of Your Dog’s Reactions

As you lift and carry your dog, pay close attention to their reactions. Are they comfortable or anxious? Do they seem agitated or at ease? Adjust your movements accordingly. If your dog shows signs of discomfort, such as whining, squirming, or tensing up, gently place them back down and give them some space.


Lifting and carrying a dog of any weight requires careful consideration, patience, and the right techniques. The first step of approaching your dog calmly and assessing their size and weight sets the tone for a successful and stress-free experience. 

By choosing the appropriate lifting technique and maintaining proper body mechanics, you ensure both your dog’s safety and your own well-being. Remember, every dog is unique, so be attuned to their reactions and adjust your approach as needed. 

With practice and care, you’ll become adept at lifting and carrying your furry companion, fostering a stronger bond and ensuring their comfort and happiness.