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dog growling when picked up

20768 Views 16 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  sherrymyra
My westie is 1 year 4 months old. I can't say when this pattern developed. But it is has gone on for some time. When she was younger she didn't have a problem if she was picked up. Now she has has a fit of growling, at times severe, as I am picking her up or putting her down. While I am holding her she seems to accept it. At first I thought she was afraid. Now I am thinking it is a behavior issue. And I don't think it is a medical issue because when she is around strange people or surroundings she is calm when I pick her up.

I am trying to randomly pick her up now and then and tell her no if she starts growling and will not put her down if she is growling. Her hearts pounds through the whole thing.

Am I on the right track?
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No, you're not on the right track. Think of it from the dog's point of view...mommy picks me up, I growl ( I don't like being picked up), mommy punishes me (more reason not to like being picked up). In fact, I'd reconsider all the reasons why you're picking her up. It's quite possible she's associated being picked up with many different negative outcomes. Baths, being restrained on your lap, being brushed, nail clipping...all these things dogs have to learn to tolerate. If they haven't learned to tolerate them, her behavior will show it when you pick her up.So, why are you picking her up? Do you need to? Can you work around not picking her up? I'd start there.

If you must pick her up, give her a reason to enjoy it. Start with short pets, and follow it with a game, or a tasty treat. Progress to longer touching and even more awesome rewards. You need to change the association before expecting the behavior to change. She is warning you for a reason, and if she hasn't bitten you, it's a good time to resolve why. Growling isn't abnormal behavior, irregardless of the context. She has reason, now find it.
Ok she has no reason to growl. not due to baths, nail clipping, etc. There is no association that I can see. ok. if a child objects to being picked up, or baths, or nail clipping, you just forgo it as, ok, they don't like it, I won't do it then.

Are you kidding?!!! Do I need to pick her up? Well not all of the time, but she should be ok with it. There are times when she will need to be picked up. She certainly cannot just act out and growl and I will give in.

Thanks for the advice anyway.

So I should just never pick her up and everything will be ok.? I don't get that at all. I don't know if it is an attitude problem or what but this just seems like not an acceptable thing. Give them an inch and they will take a mile seems to come to mind. If I give in to her growling once why would she think the next time it would different. I let her growl at me and she has won the battle. The next time she will win a little bit more.
Well your suggestion was just let her win. You certainly did not offer a different solution than to not pick her up, simply because if she doesn't like it, don't do it. She has no reason to not want to be picked up that I can see. Not the bath, nail clipping, etc. Honestly, it is not a tolerable habit. It is not just a concern with me picking her up, but with grooming, etc, that have a reason for picking her up. I am concerned that it may come to that type of situation.
I do feel for her concerns. I wish she could talk. I don't like having to scold her but I feel she will never accept being picked up. I hold her and talk nice to her and tell her she is a good girl and have a nice treat ready. But as I go to put her down she goes into another growling fit. It it something with the time of picking up, ok with being up, and the putting down.

Ok. I can't say that that it resembles the hair drying thing. But maybe to an extent, because you just can't read their minds. I don't know why she seems afraid or if she just has is a personal issue with being picked up.

Maybe a better description. Not much changes but maybe makes a difference.

I pick her up and she growls. And at times she really carries on with the growling. She seems more settled as I am holding her, but still a little on edge. I talk nice to her and act like nothing is amiss. I show her a nice treat and she is like "ok" treat, yum. But as I even start putting her down she will start growling again. And after on the ground spin in circles and more growling. She has never tried to bite or retaliate. she just seems to be in her own world when it happens.

I don't think is medical. I have her in obedience class and ask the trainer about this. She said, show me. I picked Maggie up and she had no issue at all. Just calm and nonchalant about the whole thing. Picked her up, held her, put her down. Nothing amiss. I can pick her up and put her down at the vets office. Nothing. She is perfectly fine.

Not ever picking her up just to ignore the situation is not an option, as I have concerns with groomers, etc. having to pick her up. So far that is ok but I am concerned that over time she will be less tolerant with these situations as well.

Also at times I think it may be an anxiety thing as well. She chases her tail, chases shadows. Also when I pick her up and put her down, she is like spring loaded and spins and growls after she is down. She tends to be jumpy at sudden movements. More so than normal in my experience in past dogs. She will spin and growl. I try to distract her right away from it and distract her into doing something different, such as doing a command like sit, down, etc. She is receptive to that and seems to get over the spinning and growling and acts right away at the request of doing the command.

I just don't know what to think at this point.
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Ok. Curbside's suggestions may be a start then. I will try working with her in that way.

I suppose I don't need to pick her up unless I have a reason to have to, if it comes down to it. I was afraid that in time that each time I pick her up and she growls that she feels like she won.

I pick her up, she growls, I put her down and she is thinking "yay" I won.

Would you say that is not necessarily her thinking on it then?
Thank you Carla. Your advice sounds good.
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