Can I lift my dog?

Whether or not to lift your dog in a situation where your dog feels insecure or anxious, opinions are strongly divided. Some people still believe that lifting your dog will cause him to become anxious and start to lunge.

The fanatically barking little dogs that are always carried in bags are proof of that! No, you should not lift a dog, he has legs for a reason, right?

But… what about now? Is lifting your dog bad? Or is it okay?

Lifting your dog

Lifting your dog in certain situations and constantly walking with your dog on his arm are two completely different things!

A dog, however small, should be given plenty of exercise and be able to sniff around, feel the grass, sand, and water with its paws. Carrying your dog in a bag as standard is therefore really not healthy for its development.

But there are certain situations where lifting is fine and allowed. This can be for safety (your dog is being attacked) or to prevent unwanted behavior (your dog shows unwanted behavior on the ground).

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Lifting your puppy

Opinions can also be strongly divided about lifting your puppy. ‘He got 4 legs’, ‘he never learns that way’…, those are a few comments you can get when you want to lift your puppy. But what is the alternative?

Suppose your pup finds a sliding door very exciting. You can then lift your puppy to go inside, you can pull your puppy with you, you can choose not to go in there.

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If you pick up your puppy and you quietly walk through the sliding door with your puppy on your arm and put your puppy down again, what has he learned? That you take him into account, give him safety and that he can trust you. Not bad, right? In addition, you can of course sit down with your puppy and look at sliding doors and work quietly together on walking through them.

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Lifting your dog in dangerous situations

If you don’t protect your dog in a dangerous situation, your dog’s trust in you will quickly go downhill. But… what is a dangerous situation?

When a dog rushes at you with bared teeth, clearly intending to eat your dog for lunch, there is of course no doubt about it. You MUST do everything you can to protect your dog in this situation. Of course there is a risk that you will be bitten yourself, you should be aware of that.

But sometimes a dangerous situation is not so easily recognizable.

pick up a dog in case of danger

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Picking up your dog when he’s scared

What if a situation is not immediately life-threatening, but your dog is afraid?

What if 3 enthusiastic, friendly, large dogs walk up to you and their owner yells ‘they won’t do anything’… but your dog thinks it’s really scary? Are you afraid that the dogs will waltz all over your dog? Yes, you can lift your dog.

What you can also do is squat on the floor to support your dog… but then you run the risk of being knocked over.

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When is the best time to pick up your dog?

Preferably as early as possible, so actually immediately if you expect a problem. So don’t wait until the last minute and then swing your dog into the air super fast. So take it easy on time. Except in an emergency, everything is allowed. Yes, absolutely everything!

You can always protect yourself and your dog. All the time! But… if there is no problem (someone walks by with a dog on a leash at a good distance from you) then only lift if that prevents your dog from ranting like crazy at the other dog.

lift anxious dog

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Lifting your dog and being a pack leader

This was of course ‘used to’ (unfortunately still occasionally) a point for the opponents; if you pick up your dog, he will become The Boss Over You! Your relationship goes all wrong, you spoil your dog, and I know what other excuses. What’s up?

When you lift your dog, you are exercising physical control over your dog. In other words, you are taking charge of the situation at that very moment. I just don’t understand how your dog could see this as your submission.

So, if it would be important that you are a ‘pack leader’… lifting in a risk situation certainly doesn’t make it any less.

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Lifting a scared dog

Another oft-heard ‘one-liner’… if you pick up your dog when he’s anxious, he’ll only get more scared.

hmm. Let’s look at a human example. You are really afraid of snakes. You walk in the jungle with your partner. With every rustle on the floor, your heart rate goes up and you start to hyperventilate with tears in your eyes of fear.

Suppose your partner is super strong, he lifts you up. And he carries you out of the jungle. wow. I think you then see your partner as a beacon of safety… and have you become even more anxious? I do not think so!

how to lift a dog

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How do you lift a dog?

This depends a bit on the situation. Always preferably on time and quietly. I give a signal myself before I start lifting and with me that is simply called ‘lift’. I have large dogs, but sometimes, in their work as a rescue dog, I have to lift them over a dangerous fence, for example.

I would lift a small dog that lunges at another dog in the street so that its head is back. Of course you never lift a dog by its collar, or by its paws. If your dog has a good, sturdy harness, you can lift it with one hand on the harness and with the other hand under his body.

You lift a slightly larger dog differently: with one arm under its belly and the other arm out through its front legs from your side.

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