Why Does My Puppy Hate to Be Held?

Not all puppies know that being held is a good thing.
i David De Lossy/Valueline/Getty Images

Don't take it personally if your puppy doesn't like being held -- if he could, he would say, "It's not you, it's me." While well-socialized pups may not mind the attention, they can be unpredictable, and a number of factors could influence his distaste for being held.


The simplest explanation, and the one that you should rule out first, is that your puppy feels physical discomfort when you hold him. An injury -- even an internal one that you can't see -- can make holding a painful experience. After all, if you had a bruised rib or a shoulder sprain, you wouldn't want to be hoisted up either. You should take your puppy for regular checkups anyway as he's growing, so ruling out physical injury just takes a trip to the vet.

Poor Socialization

Sometimes a puppy just hasn't learned to be held yet. The first three months of a puppy's life are when he learns the most about what's normal and what isn't, and the way he's treated during that period drastically affects his entire life. If he isn't accustomed to being held during that time, learning to like it later on can be difficult. More seriously, if he was abused or neglected during that period, he may fear humans who want to approach and pick him up -- and all this can easily occur before you ever adopt him.

Unnatural Affection

A puppy's instincts tell him to sniff bums, pee on trees and and chase squirrels -- not to be hugged. In the wild, dogs don't hug each other -- it's strictly something imposed on them by humans. Because of that, a puppy doesn't necessarily understand the affectionate nature of a hug. Instead, all he understands is that he is being constricted, and that can be scary for an animal. If your dog hates being held, it may simply be his animal instincts telling him that it's unnatural.

Another Lover

If your dog hates being held by you but not by another owner, it means that you need to bond. Don't be jealous -- your puppy learns to enjoy the company of the people who spend time with him and take care of him. If you take your puppy for walks, play with him, feed him and pet him, your bond strengthens and he learns to trust you, and he may be more open to being held.

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