Easy, right? Not always so with fearful and shy dogs. Picking a fearful or shy dog up can be traumatic to the dog. You are literally lifting that dog out of his comfort zone. Make sure that dog is comfortable with your touch before you try to pick the dog up. If your dog is still not comfortable with touch, try slow gentle massages around the shoulder areas and back of the neck. When your dog is comfortable with your touch, we can move forward.
Ready? I have strong opinions on picking dogs up and putting them back down.
First, picking a dog up….
Try to make it as pleasant an experience for the dog as possible. Make sure you are in a patient, calm state of mind and you really have time to do this properly. Do NOT pick the dog up by the legs or scruff of the neck. I recommend putting one hand/arm over the back of the dog and gently under the stomach/chest area. Wrap you other hand around the area just above the dogs front legs. Be careful not to go up too far and make the dog feel like you are choking him.
Okay, you’ve got the dog picked up. What should you do now? Let the dog guide you.
If dog is very nervous, hold him in your lap for just a few moments. Just hold. No petting at this point.
If the dog is relatively calm, continue and set the dog, gently in your lap, still holding him with arm over his back and under tummy. Guide with your other hand. Let him just sit there. Don’t move your hands. Make sure your lap is stable and the dog is not feeling like he might fall. When the dog seems calm, pet him slowly and gently. Feel free to reward the dog with a treat. Don’t hold him for more than a few moments the first time. Increase the time as you go and the dog lets you know he’s okay with all this.
Now putting him down…
This too should be a pleasant experience for the dog. The dog should not feel like there is any danger in being put down on the floor. Make sure the spot you are putting the dog in is secure and stable. Do not set him down on a high table, or on something that is shaky.
Before putting the dog down, be sure the dog is in the calmest moment possible. Don’t let the dog jump down. The dog could jump and hurt himself and then connect that to you putting him down. It can cause further fear.
Set the dog down on the floor. Hold on to him for a moment and do a slow, soft rub on the shoulder area. Slowly remove your hands. At first the dog may run from you as soon as you release it. But as you do this over and over, you will find that your dog will move away more slowly.
Give the dog a treat to show him that what he has done is awesome!
Continue picking your dog up and putting him down until he is really comfortable with it. Increase the lengths of time you hold him as he maintains a quiet, calm state of mind.
You and your dog are doing wonderful!