The Right Way to Pick Up A Dog

Whether you’re currently planning on introducing a pup into your home, or you’re already an experienced dog owner and are simply looking to become the best owner you can be, then you might find yourself wondering “what’s the right way to carry my dog?”

It’s very important to make sure that you’re carrying your dog correctly, because if you don’t, then you might be making your dog feel distressed or uncomfortable. You could even accidentally cause your dog to become injured – especially if you’re trying to lift a medium or large breed dog!

If you’re concerned about how to carry your dog correctly, then don’t panic, because we’re here to lend you a helping hand.

So, without further ado, let’s jump right in!

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woman carrying her dog

How Should You Carry a Dog?

As we’re sure you might already be aware, the correct way to carry a dog will greatly depend on the size of the dog, among other factors such as weight.

For this reason, we’re going to be breaking down the best way to pick up small, medium, and large breed dogs below.

If you’re still feeling a little confused about how to correctly pick up your particular dog, we recommend taking a visit to your local veterinarian, who we’re sure would be happy to assist and show you how to safely do it. 

How To Carry Small Breed Dogs

If you happen to have an adorable little small breed dog, then you should begin by gently slipping your strong, dominant arm under your dog’s chest, making sure that you’re going in from the direction of its front paws.

Once you have done this, you will then need to quickly take your other hand and wrap it directly around the belly of your dog, so that your dog will be nestled between your arm and your body. 

As soon as you have safely done this and your dog is not distressed, you can then proceed to gently lift up your dog in one swift motion so that it does not become startled.

Once you have lifted your dog, you should maintain the positioning of your hands, and make sure that your palms are spread evenly across your dog, in order to ensure optimum comfort.

How To Carry Medium Breed Dogs

If you own a medium-breed dog or are planning to do so, then you might be interested to hear that you can follow the exact same carrying method as owners of small-breed dogs!

So, in order to safely and comfortably pick up and carry a medium breed dog, you will need to place your dominant arm under your dog’s chest (from the front paws) and then take your other hand and gently wrap it around your dog’s belly. 

From there, you will be able to proceed to pick up your dog in one swift motion. You can also talk to your dog to prevent any distress, while maintaining your hand positioning for maximum support and comfort.

How To Carry Large Breed Dogs

As we’re sure that you might have already guessed, carrying large breed dogs requires a slightly different method of handling to that of small and medium-sized dogs.

So, if you happen to have a pooch on the larger side, you’ll need to begin by gently placing one arm behind the back of your dog’s back legs. Then proceed to move one arm around your dog’s chest in order to lift your larger dog. 

It’s important to keep in mind that carrying larger dogs should be avoided where possible. Their larger size and weight carries a higher risk of accidental injury to both you and the dog.

Nevertheless, we still recommend that you take the time to learn how to pick up your large dog, as it means that you’ll know how to safely do it should the need arise, regardless of whether that be to help your dog get into a vehicle, or during the event of an emergency. 

Top Tips For Safely Carrying Dogs

In addition to the correct handling methods above, it’s worth discussing how not to pick up your dog. There are a variety of common mistakes that many dog owners can make when carrying their dogs.

Below, we’re going to be breaking down the most common handling mistakes:

  • Avoid Lifting Your Dog By The Collar:

While handling or carrying your dog, you should avoid pulling or tugging on the collar, as this can cut off your dog’s air supply and in turn cause damage to the trachea. You should never opt to carry or pull your dog by the collar area, as this can be very dangerous to your dog’s air supply and neck.

  • Don’t Carry Your Dog By Its Scruff:

Though it is well-known that mom dogs carry their babies by the scruff of their necks, you should never do this. Carrying your dog by the scruff of its neck can be life-threatening and downright scary experience for your dog.

Instead, you should make sure that you are following the appropriate methods listed above.

  • Make Sure That You Aren’t Picking Up Your Dog By Its Underarms:

Though this one should go without saying, it’s very important to never pick up your dog by its underarms. This method is not only uncomfortable for your dog, but it can also cause damage to your dog’s shoulder muscles and ligaments.

  • Act Calm and Confident

Dogs often follow the emotional state of their people (you might have heard the term “emotions travel down the leash”). The same applies when you’re trying to pick up your pup. If you are anxious, you’re making it harder on both and your pup, as picking up a wiggly dog is pretty difficult. So, take a deep breath, talk calmly to your dog, and scoop them up (safely!)

PuppyLists is written by Kat, who has owned, trained, volunteered with, and loved dogs for nearly three decades. When she isn't writing or researching, she's out adventuring with her 15 year old Lab mix.