We often pick up our dogs for many reasons. The most common reason is that we just want to pick them up because we want to hold, nurture, and play with them. These are all great intentions and fit in perfectly with the “bond/respect/safety” relationship that our dog expects and requires from us. The problem arises when our actions don’t fall in line with our “great intentions”.
First of all, we have to remember that the dogs we are normally picking up are smaller dogs. We don’t normally pick up our seventy-pound German Shepard or our hundred and fifty pound Great Dane. The dogs that are normally picked up are the small and toy breeds. These dogs are the Toy Poodles, Pugs, French Bulldogs, Yorkies, etc. Although they are small, they are always very active around us with normally very little fear of anything we may do together.
Now comes the point that I always like to make. What we are forgetting in our actions with our dogs is the extension of seeing the world through their eyes. What are they feeling and seeing as we are interacting with them? Many times, I like to demonstrate these things to my clients as we are at our first training. Even though we are the same size and I am telling them what I am about to do, I always say “Now, don’t be scared…”.
When you get into close quarters with anyone, including our pets, things can get dicey. Quick movements are magnified when you are right next to your dog. The boundary between “hold and hurt” can be very dubious when your dog is only five pounds. A quick wiggle can result in a long drop. When holding your dog, you have moved their natural behavior of fight or flight.
These are a lot of things to think about and a lot of things that can instantly go wrong. It is important to be proactive in mitigating these possibilities so you can do the simple task of picking up your dog and have it a happy and safe experience. Robin and I have a great article that can quickly help resolve this issue. Please take a look at our dog training blog article titled “How Do I Safely Pick Up My Dog”.