How to Handle a Squirmy Dog

A little practice will calm even the most determined wiggler.

A little practice will calm even the most determined wiggler.

If you pick up your dog and she wiggles, whines and struggles to get away, you’re dealing with a squirmy dog. Squirmy pooches don’t like to be restrained and will try everything in their power to get out of your arms. Handling a squirmer takes patience and consistency.

Items you will need

  • Collar
  • Leash
  • Treats

Step 1

Turn your dog out in the yard and let her run to her heart’s content. Many squirmy dogs are full of pent-up energy and just can’t sit still, and a good run will burn off that energy before you handle the dog. If you can’t turn her loose, take her on a long jog to wear her out.

Step 2

Restrain your dog with a collar and leash. This gives you a bit of extra control and keeps your squirmy dog from wiggling loose and escaping your grasp. Wrap the leash around your wrist to keep both hands free.

Step 3

Sit down on the floor and pull the dog into your lap. Wrap your arms gently around her and talk to her in a calm, quiet voice. If she starts to wiggle, ignore her movements and keep her firmly grasped in your arms. Most dogs squirm to get away, and if you release your hold, you’re reinforcing her negative behavior.

Step 4

Tell the dog to “settle” or “relax” and loosen your grip as soon as the dog sits still. Releasing the dog when she is calm teaches her that not wiggling will set her free, so loosen your hands only when she is completely still. Give her a treat to reinforce her positive behavior.

Step 5

Pick the dog up again and see if she resists. If she wiggles, stay patient and hold her until she stops. If she’s picked up the idea and sits still, let her go and treat her to a tasty morsel. It may take multiple training sessions, but soon your pooch will realize that resistance is indeed futile.


  • Fit your pooch with a soft-sided muzzle is she nips or bites at you when you handle her. Some dogs bite out of fear, but many struggling dogs have learned that a quick nip means they get to run free.

About the Author

Louise Lawson has been a published author and editor for more than 10 years. Lawson specializes in pet and food-related articles, utilizing her 15 years as a sous chef and as a dog breeder, handler and trainer to produce pieces for online and print publications.

Photo Credits

  • Medioimages/Photodisc/Valueline/Getty Images