Why Dogs Don’t Like Being Picked Up? Explained

Dogs have long been considered man’s best friend, providing companionship, loyalty, and unconditional love. However, there are certain behaviors exhibited by dogs that can sometimes puzzle their human counterparts. 

One such behavior is their aversion to being picked up. While it may seem strange to us, there are several reasons why dogs might not enjoy this seemingly harmless action. 

In this article, we will delve into the world of canine behavior to understand why dogs don’t like being picked up.

Instinctual Nature

Dogs are descendants of wolves, which were highly social pack animals with a strong sense of hierarchy and territoriality. 

Being lifted off the ground can make a dog feel vulnerable and trigger their natural instinct to protect themselves. 

In the wild, predators often lift their prey off the ground to immobilize them, and this instinctual response can still linger in domesticated dogs.

Loss of Control

Dogs are creatures of habit and thrive on routine and predictability. When they are lifted off the ground, they lose control over their immediate environment. 

This loss of control can be stressful and cause anxiety in dogs. They prefer having all four paws on the ground, where they feel secure and able to move freely.

Physical Discomfort

Picking up a dog improperly can cause physical discomfort or pain. Dogs have sensitive areas such as their abdomen, legs, and joints. 

If they are lifted incorrectly or in a way that puts pressure on these areas, it can cause discomfort or even injury. 

See also  Is it Better to Brush a Matted Dog Wet or Dry? Unraveling best Practices

Additionally, dogs may have pre-existing conditions like arthritis or joint problems that make being picked up painful for them.

Past Negative Experiences

Dogs have remarkable memories, and they can associate being picked up with unpleasant experiences. 

If a dog has been mishandled or dropped in the past, it can create fear and apprehension about being lifted off the ground again. 

Traumatic experiences can have a lasting impact on a dog’s behavior, making them wary of being handled in certain ways.

Lack of Socialization

Early socialization plays a crucial role in shaping a dog’s behavior. Puppies that have not been properly socialized to being handled and picked up may grow up to be fearful or anxious when subjected to such actions. 

It is important to introduce puppies to gentle handling and positive experiences with being lifted to ensure they develop a healthy attitude towards it.

Body Language and Communication

Dogs primarily communicate through body language. When a dog shows signs of discomfort or avoidance, such as turning away, flattening their ears, or tensing their body, it is essential to respect their boundaries. 

Ignoring or dismissing these signals can lead to further stress and anxiety in dogs. Understanding and respecting their communication cues is vital for building trust and a positive relationship.

Personal Preference and Individuality

Just like humans, dogs have individual preferences and personalities. While some dogs may tolerate or even enjoy being picked up, others may simply not like it. 

It is crucial to recognize and respect their personal preferences. Forcing a dog to be picked up against their will can strain the human-dog bond and potentially lead to negative consequences.

See also  Do Dogs Know Their Name Or Is It A Command?


Understanding why dogs don’t like being picked up requires us to look at their behavior through the lens of their evolutionary history and individual experiences. 

Dogs may feel vulnerable, lose control, experience physical discomfort, or associate being picked up with negative experiences. 

As responsible pet owners, it is our duty to respect their boundaries, communicate effectively, and provide a safe and comfortable environment for our furry companions. 

By doing so, we can strengthen the bond we share with our dogs and ensure their well-being and happiness.