Why Does My Dog Want Me to Pick Him Up but Then Runs Away?

As dog owners, we often encounter puzzling behaviors that leave us scratching our heads. 

One such behavior is when our furry friends eagerly approach us to be picked up, only to wriggle out of our grasp and dart away. This seemingly contradictory behavior can be perplexing, but it is not uncommon among dogs. 

In this article, we will explore the possible reasons why dogs exhibit this behavior and shed light on their complex psychology. 

Understanding why your dog behaves this way can help strengthen your bond and ensure a harmonious relationship between you and your four-legged companion.

Seeking Comfort and Security

Dogs are social creatures that rely on their owners for companionship and security. When a dog wants to be picked up, it often seeks the comfort and reassurance that comes from being close to its owner. 

Being held can provide a sense of safety and protection, especially in situations that make the dog feel anxious or vulnerable. 

However, there are instances where dogs suddenly change their minds and choose to run away, leaving their owners bewildered.

Sensitivity to Physical Discomfort

One possible explanation for this behavior lies in physical discomfort. Dogs, like humans, can experience physical discomfort or pain that may not always be immediately apparent. 

In some cases, a dog might approach you for a momentary relief from an ache or an underlying health issue. 

However, once they are picked up and their discomfort intensifies due to the pressure or movement, they may squirm away to escape the source of pain. 

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It’s essential to observe your dog’s body language and consult a veterinarian if you suspect any underlying health issues.

Fear or Anxiety Triggers

Fear and anxiety can influence a dog’s behavior in various ways. Some dogs may exhibit a “pick-me-up-then-run” behavior when they encounter triggers that evoke fear or anxiety. 

For example, if your dog is frightened by loud noises, sudden movements, or unfamiliar surroundings, they may initially seek comfort by being lifted off the ground. 

However, if they feel overwhelmed or perceive the situation as threatening, they might panic and instinctively try to escape, resulting in them running away from your grasp.

Playfulness and Seeking Attention

Dogs love to play and engage in interactive activities with their owners. Sometimes, the “pick-me-up-then-run” behavior could be a playful gesture. 

They may initiate the interaction by approaching you and indicating they want to be lifted, but once they are in your arms, they may perceive it as an invitation to playfully escape and engage in a chase. 

This behavior allows them to release pent-up energy and enjoy a game of “catch me if you can.” 

It’s important to discern whether your dog is genuinely seeking play or if there are underlying reasons, such as discomfort or anxiety, influencing their behavior.

Establishing Dominance or Control

In some cases, the “pick-me-up-then-run” behavior might be an attempt to assert dominance or gain control over the situation. 

Dogs, especially those with assertive personalities, may engage in such behavior as a way to show their independence or challenge their owner’s authority. 

By initiating contact and then quickly escaping, they may be attempting to dictate the terms of the interaction and establish themselves as the ones in charge. 

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Consistency, training, and establishing clear boundaries can help address this behavior and foster a healthy hierarchy within the household.


The “pick-me-up-then-run” behavior in dogs can stem from a variety of underlying factors, including seeking comfort, physical discomfort, fear or anxiety triggers, playfulness, or attempts to establish dominance. 

Understanding these potential reasons can help dog owners navigate and address this behavior effectively. 

By paying close attention to their body language, providing appropriate training and socialization, and addressing any potential physical discomfort, you can build a stronger bond with your furry friend and create an environment where they feel safe, secure, and loved. 

Remember, each dog is unique, and it may take time and patience to unravel the specific motivations behind their behavior.