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How To Carry A Large Dog

How To Carry A Large Dog (Step-By-Step)

It is common for large dogs to dislike being carried. It could be uncomfortable or even scary for some. However, certain circumstances make it necessary to do so. It pays to know how to carry your dog safely and to keep them calm when those situations arise.

This article will provide you with a step-by-step guide to learn how to carry your dog properly if you ever need to do so.

Reasons Why A Dog May Need To Be Carried

Even though you might not do it in everyday situations, it is useful to learn the proper way to carry your dog and to get them used to being carried. Here are some situations when this might come in handy:

  • For vet examinations. Your dog won’t always willingly jump up on a vet’s table. In many cases, it’s easier and safer to carry them up yourself.
  • Avoiding dirty ground. Sometimes, the ground gets muddy or there are unsafe substances on the floor. It can also be too hot for paws or have harmful chemicals. In these cases, it’s safer to carry your dog away.
  • Going on escalators. These moving stairs can be scary and incredibly unsafe for dogs. It’s always better to carry them up the entire flight than risk getting them getting caught in the moving parts.
  • Help when injured. If your dog ever hurts themselves or gets in an accident, you might need to carry them to seek medical attention. Additionally, they might need to be carried around when they’re recovering from an injury.
  • Mobility in old age. As dogs get older, their bones and joints become weaker and possibly arthritic. Many senior dogs need to be carried to go places or use assistive devices.
  • During emergencies. Sometimes, you need to remove your dog from a situation immediately. Being able to pick up your dog and run away keeps you both safe in emergencies.

The Importance Of Carrying A Dog the Right Way

Avoiding injury is the most important reason why every dog owner should learn how to carry their dog the right way. The proper technique keeps dogs as comfortable as possible and will keep them from struggling to break free.

The correct form also distributes the pressure across the strongest parts of the dog’s body so it minimizes the risk of injury. Even if the dog tries with their might to wriggle out of your arms, they’re not likely to break their legs in the process.

Additionally, carrying a dog the right way protects you as much as it protects your dog. Given their large size and heavier weight, you need to make sure you don’t injure yourself whenever you have to lift your pet.

Learning the proper form and getting your dog used to being carried will help you in this regard.

Lastly, being carried can be scary for a dog. Making sure they’re comfortable, pain-free, and calm when you do this will help them to trust you and will eventually make the task easier to do.

Step-by-Step: How to Carry a Large Dog

Carrying a large dog isn’t overly complicated if you know how to do it properly. Here are the steps you need to take so that you can lift your dog safely and securely:

Step 1: Position your dog

Make your dog stand in front of you. You’ll want to face their side rather than stand face-to-face. At this step, it helps to offer plenty of positive reinforcement to keep them calm. It also helps to associate a cue so they eventually learn when they should expect to be carried.

Step 2: Place one arm at the chest

Hold your forearm across your dog’s chest. This should be in front of the forelegs and not under it. Getting this step right will keep them from getting hurt. It will also limit their movement in case they decide to flail around to get free.

Step 3: Scoop underneath the rump

Your other forearm should support your dog right below their butt, around the area of their upper thighs. Never hold them around the belly as this will cause them much discomfort.

Step 4: Lift up

When you have your arms properly supporting your dog, you’re ready to lift. Make sure you do so as if coming up from a squat. Bend your knees and lift up by harnessing power from your legs and not your back.

Once you’ve lifted your dog up, take a moment to stabilize yourself before carrying your dog away or moving towards another space.  

Step 5: Place your dog down

To lower your dog back to the floor or on another surface, squat straight down and let go only when their feet touch the ground. Don’t let them jump off your arms as the awkward positioning of their legs might cause injury.

Make sure you use your legs or you might hurt your back trying to bend over while carrying a large and heavy dog.

If you’re still unsure about the right way to carry your dog, check out Carmen the Golden Retriever’s demonstration on Youtube.

How To Pick Up A Large Puppy

Picking up a large puppy properly isn’t too different from carrying an adult dog. You just have to be mindful of the fact that puppies are more fragile.

When you pick them up, do so carefully with your palm supporting their entire chest. Then, use your other arm to support them under the rump. Hold the puppy close to your body and let them feel safe and secure.

When taking them back down, always make sure their feet are firmly on the ground before you let go.

Puppies don’t pounce gracefully as kittens do. The impact of jumping might be too harsh on their joints and growing bones.

Is It Bad To Carry A Puppy Often?

Carrying a puppy often isn’t necessarily bad. In fact, it can be a very good part of your dog’s socialization. It gets them used to being carried and builds their trust with you.

However, it is not natural for puppies to be carried just like human babies are. Doing this unnecessarily could easily injure them or might interfere with proper growth and development.

Additionally, letting a puppy walk rather than being carried in your arms is better for physical growth and socialization. Not only are they able to strengthen their muscles and expend their excess energy but also experience their environment in much more immersive ways.

This helps raise confident dogs that are less prone to fear-based aggression.

What To Avoid When Picking Up A Dog

No matter why you need to pick up your dog, using the proper technique is always important. This is the only way to avoid injury both on your dog as well as yourself.

This will also keep them from pain or discomfort that will cause them to fear or hate getting picked up.

Whenever you need to pick up your dog, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Never pick up under the legs. Doing so is uncomfortable and puts unnecessary strain on their joints.
  • Don’t pick up by the scruff. It is a common misconception that handling a dog by the scruff is natural, but this can actually cause a lot of pain.
  • Don’t press on the belly. This area is filled with sensitive soft tissue. Pressing on the belly can also cause digestive distress and vomiting.
  • Be mindful of the tail. Always make sure that the tail is tucked in as you scoop by the rump. Otherwise, it can be hurt or even broken.
  • Determine if carrying is safe. If your dog gets in an accident, lifting them is not always the best thing to do. Make sure you assess the situation properly so as not to cause further injuries. Additionally, medium to large-sized dogs typically weigh at least 70 pounds. You could easily hurt yourself if you try to lift them without being conditioned to do so.

How To Get Your Dog Used To Being Carried

Learning the proper technique to carry your dog is undeniably important. But it’ll still be very difficult for you to do if you have a large and strong dog that resists being lifted from the ground.

In fact, having them thrash about because of their fear of discomfort from being carried can cause injury both to you and your dog. So, it’s critical to do what you can to get your dog used to being carried.

Here are some tips for success:

  • Start young. Getting them used to being carried as puppies teaches them early on that it’s nothing to fear. Additionally, it helps to start while they’re still much smaller and lighter.
  • Start slow. Practice lifting your dog for short durations and setting them down right away. Keep increasing the time you carry them until you can do so for longer without having them squirm.
  • Use positive reinforcement. Use treats and plenty of sweet talk and praises. Let your dog know that they’re doing a good job by staying calm and letting you lift them. This will help them associate positive feelings with being carried.

Final Thoughts

Even if your dog dislikes being carried, it is something you both need to get used to. This will help you make sure that you both are safe in the eventuality that you need to pick up your dog from the ground.

For some guidance on how you might approach this, check out this article on tips for training German Shepherds are similarly large breeds.

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