Top 3 Reasons Why Your Dog Growls When You Pick Him Up

Disclaimer: The content on is for informational purpose only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a veterinarian when in doubt.

Not all dogs like being picked up and growling is one way they will express their displeasure. The reason for growling, however, isn’t always straightforward. It could be explained by one of the following reasons.

1. Your dog is in pain

This could be a common reason for dogs that were fine with being picked up before. The dog could be feeling discomfort and pain when you pick him up. Perhaps the dog has some kind of injury with the joints, bones, and muscles. The dog could also be feeling some sort of stomach pain. It would be wise to stop picking up your dog until his injuries or sickness are fully healed.

2. Sensitive to touch

For new dogs, they may not be quite ready to be touched by people. Vocalizations such as growling is one way for dogs to discourage people from picking them up. This could happen to puppies and rescue dogs that haven’t been exposed to a close-knit people environment. Socialization and desensitization might help make a dog feel more comfortable to being picked up.

For example, one method that may work is to apply the concept of positive reinforcement. Start off with gently touching certain parts of the dog’s body such as the belly and the sides. Reward the dog with the treat every time you do so. The dog should eventually feel comfortable enough to be picked up without expressing any sort of aggression.

3. Your dog needs personal space

We normally associate dogs with affectionate behaviors such as enjoying a good cuddle. The reality is that dogs come with many different personalities. You might just have a dog that enjoys his own personal space. Picking him up is one way you might be violating his personal boundaries. The dog might also growl at you in other situations such as when you approach him from behind or when you pat him a bit too much.


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