How To Pick Up A Dog That Bites

How To Pick Up A Dog That Bites?

Last Updated: August 20, 2023

In this article you will know the answer to the query “How To Pick Up A Dog That Bites“.

Other dogs seem to be especially adverse to that behavior but if your dog is being aggressive when you pick him up you may have some underlying issues to consider. 

The following article will discuss everything you need to know about this issue so you can have a better relationship with your dog and know what signals hes sending:

How To Pick Up A Dog That Bites
  • What causes dogs to growl and bite when they are picked up?
  • When picking up small dogs what is the proper method?
  • For large dogs how should I pick them up?
  • How do dogs commonly growl at their owners?
  • Do dogs bite you when you pick them up?

3 reasons that dogs growl and bite when they are picked up?

1. Pain

If your dog used to enjoy being picked up and has suddenly become aggressive pain may be to blame.

Usually when you touch an area of a dogs body they will growl and bite to show you that it hurts so do not necessarily assume they are just acting out.

Consider whether your pet is less energetic than usual or if he has been vomiting or diarrhea. These are all signs that he has stomach pain and should be taken to the vet or should change his diet. In the absence of those symptoms the pain could still be the result of a recent bruise or muscle ache. 

2. Association

Additionally your dog may associate being picked up with bad things such as taking a shower going to the vet getting his nails trimmed etc. Then he is just expressing his opinion about those activities not about the acts themselves.

We’ll talk about training in a minute so spoiler alert but if you want to avoid this association pick up your dog in other good situations. When you take him for a walk and pet him and put him on your lap try to create pleasant memories for him associated with those acts. 

3. Mishandling

This is probably the most common scenario where your dog is complaining about the way you pick him up. Picking up a pet properly requires some special care which we will discuss in more detail in the next chapter.

In the meantime just keep in mind that if you have the habit of bringing your dog up too quickly it can be extremely unpleasant and disorienting for him. As time goes on he will become uncomfortable whenever he thinks you’re about to swing him up again since he knows it will be disagreeable.

What is the proper way to pick up a small dog? 

Remember these tips if your small dog complains about being picked up so that you can make him more comfortable and support him better.

In spite of the fact that small dogs are easier to carry and hold a lot of people end up holding them like a purse or doll which will cause your dog to snap at you after a while. 

Placing your dominant arm under your dog and placing your hand on its chest should be your first step. The arm can either be placed between his legs or not. You can then place your other hand on their back and bring them close to your chest.

Your dog might not be small enough to be held in this way so you can also put your dominant arm in his chest and gently place him under your arm touching your ribcage. Here it is important to keep the dog in a safe and stable position.

It might take some time and practice for you to teach your dog to trust you again if you have mistreated them for some time. You should pamper and pet them first but if they are already upset you should wait a while before trying again. 

What is the proper way to pick up a large dog?

It gets more complicated here because if you want to pick up a large dog you need to have the strength to hold it safely. You can improvise a stretch such as using an object that is flat and firm or a wood board (make sure there are no splinters).

You can start by placing one arm in the chest of the dog and the other arm under its back legs if you feel confident you can hold it. This position should place the dogs ribs close to your chest and their back legs tucked in. 

If your dog is even larger you can place one arm around their chest and the other around their belly and then bring them close to your body. The dogs position should be straight and firm so you can better control its weight.

When you pick up a large dog keep in mind that they do not feel safe if they can see you struggling to support them. If possible you should enlist someone elses help and pick them up only as needed.

Top 3 reasons that dogs commonly growl at owners?

Next lets discuss different situations where dogs will commonly growl and what they are trying to tell you. Growing can be caused by a variety of reasons and understanding those reasons is important if you wish to have a better relationship with your pet.

1. Frustration

Growling is a way for dogs to communicate when they are taking a bath getting their ears cleaned or when they are being bothered while they are asleep. The dog will normally growl out of frustration because it is uncomfortable and wants you to stop what you’re doing. 

2. Warning

You will hear this growl when you are trying to get a toy or food away from them. That deep growl is a warning for you to leave them alone. Basically they do not want the situation to escalate and just want you to stop but if you do not they might bite you.

3. Playful growl

Growing is also a sign of play; dogs mimic confrontation while playing so you should not interpret them as signs of aggression. When your dog growls it usually means “lets play” so its more of an invitation than a warning. 

How to train a dog not to bite you as you pick it up

As previously mentioned the easiest way to teach your dog that being picked up is not bad is to associate it with pleasant events. Put a collar on them for a walk or feed them their favorite food while you put them on your lap. the dog will become accustomed to it.

Keeping them distracted when doing something unpleasant is another way to keep them from becoming frustrated. You can play with their favorite toy while giving them a bath and talk to them in a high-pitched voice while you’re doing so. Give them a treat and pamper them afterward.  

It is important to keep in mind that dogs can be much more aggressive when they are stressed so if you have noticed that your dog is growling more often lately this might be the reason. Take them out as often and as safely as you can but if you can not dedicate more time to them and play with them often. 

Keep in mind that you should never punish a growl! Even if they upset you your dog uses them as a way to communicate with you. Trying to punish your dog may just escalate the situation and cause your dog to lose trust in you. 


As a general rule if you treat your pet with care he will never want to hurt you so you should be tolerant of growls and bites from your pet. Look at your dogs acts as a way of communicating with you and see if you can help improve their situation. 

If you consider their routine you may be able to make him more comfortable with situations he hates and thus reduce his aggression. Your dog may not like to be carried at all so in that case you should avoid doing it to keep your best friend happy!

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Amanda Dogs Trainer

Amanda (Author)

With over a decade of experience, Amanda is a distinguished dog trainer. Her expertise in canine behavior has transformed countless lives, fostering harmonious human-canine connections. Through compassionate and personalized approaches, she empowers owners to understand and connect with their furry companions, creating a legacy of joyful tails and transformed lives.

Osvaldo Maciel Dogs Trainer

Osvaldo Maciel (Content Reviewer)

Osvaldo Maciel, a stalwart in the field with 14 years of experience, is a revered dog trainer. His journey is defined by a profound understanding of canine behavior, shaping unbreakable human-canine bonds. Osvaldo guides owners to connect with their beloved pets, leaving an indelible mark of happiness and transformation. His legacy shines through the countless lives he has touched.

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