How to Properly Carry a Dog

dog being held

Dog owners have many reasons for wanting to know how to carry their loyal canines. Puppies and small dogs get picked up and carried by their humans almost every day.  Larger dogs might need a lift if they are injured or just had surgery.

If you are around dogs or own a dog, then you want to know how to properly carry a dog. Dogs might not complain but there is a correct way to carry your dog that will reduce long-term injury and pain.

If you are walking for a long time, check out our Review of the Top 5 Best Dog Carrier Backpacks.

In this article, How to Properly Carry a Dog, we will look at four specific ways to carry dogs of different sizes, equipment that can assist with carrying dogs, and ways to avoid when lifting or carrying your dog.

How to Properly Carry a Dog:

  • Handling a puppy
  • Carrying a small dog
  • Lifting and carrying a large dog
  • Methods of carrying a dog with health issues
  • Equipment designed to carry dogs
  • Ways to avoid when lifting and carrying a dog

Whatever your reason for learning how to properly carry a dog, there are methods that will make life more comfortable for your canine.

Related Articles:

How to Properly Carry a Dog: Handling a Puppy

Puppies get handled quite a bit by humans, which makes it even more important to know the correct way to help your puppy.  Puppies need to feel comfortable and not threatened by being carried.

Puppies often feel most comfortable when held with both hands.  Place one hand between their front legs and the other hand should support the puppy’s rear legs and hind end.

For very small puppies, they can often be picked up and held with one hand. Place one hand under the puppy’s chest with your fingers facing their head.  Be sure to support their chest and legs so they are confident with your hold.

Related Articles:

Puppies feel most secure when they held close to your chest or body.  Some dogs are affected by heights, which makes being held a scary experience.  Reassure your dog when you are lifting them off the ground and hold them close to you.

It is crucial that the puppies feel confident right from the beginning with you.  Always assist smaller children when they want to hold a puppy. Puppies will feel more secure if younger children are sitting down and low to the ground when first holding them.

How to Properly Carry a Dog: Carrying a Small Dog

The method that is used for carrying a small dog is the same one that can be applied to longer-bodied dogs such as Dachshunds.

Before picking up a small dog, kneel on the floor or squat down near the dog.  Gently slide one of your hands between the dog’s front legs and under their chest.  It’s important to support their upper body.  Use your other hand and place it behind the dog’s hind end, supporting their back legs.

As you begin to stand up, make sure you have a secure hold on your dog.  Lift the dog at the same time as you are standing up.  It is always good to remember to hold your dog close to your chest for a secure and comfortable feeling for the dog.

Not all small dogs like to be held and might even be frightened of the experience.  Be sure to praise and treat your dog when beginning to carry them. 

Related Articles:

How to Properly Carry a Dog
Photo by Lauren Whitaker from Pexels

How to Properly Carry a Dog: Lifting and Carrying a Large Dog

At some point in a dog’s life, they will need to be lifted and carried. It’s great to know the easiest and healthiest way to carry a dog, even the large ones!

Often dogs that are in the 20–40 pound range can be lifted and carried by one person.  Dogs that are over 40 pounds could use the two-person carry. Always take care not to injure yourself while trying to lift and carry your canine.

When lifting a large dog, begin by bending at your knees and using your legs to stand up.  Wrap one of your arms around the dog’s front, making sure to support their chest. Stay below the throat region when wrapping your arm around the dog.

Use your other arm to support and lift their back legs by wrapping your arms around their hind end up under the top of their back legs. As you stand-up lift with your legs.

Related Articles:

Large dogs that are over 40 pounds will need the two-person carry.  One person will support the front end of the dog (staying away from the throat region) and the second person will support the back and hind end of the dog.

Large dogs that have never been lifted or carried in this way may feel insecure or uneasy.  Reassure and praise your dog as you lift them.  Treat your dog and move slowly so they feel confident that you can securely carry them.

How to Properly Carry a Dog: Methods for Carrying a Dog with Health Issues

When you have to know how to properly carry a dog due to an injury you want to move carefully but confidently around the dog.  If you are lifting or carrying a dog that you do not know it would be best to put a muzzle on the dog.  If you get bit, you will not be able to effectively help the dog.

A note about muzzles, you can purchase one at the local pet store or you can use a homemade muzzle. Simple homemade muzzles can be made with athletic wraps, bandanas, or even strips of cloth.  An injured dog (that is in pain) is only responding to their instincts, so protect yourself while helping the dog.

For an older dog that is unable to walk due to hip pain or arthritis, take care by using two people to lift and carry the dog.  One person will carry the front end of the dog while the second person carries the back half of the dog.  Communicate effectively with each other and lift at the same time.

Related Articles:

In some cases, the dog might need the assistance of a lifting harness or lifting belt designed for this purpose. Dog owners often install ramps for the dogs to safely go in and out of the house.  Ramps can be used for getting in and out of the vehicle as well.

Take care around injured dogs or dogs in pain.  Use the methods for how to properly carry a dog to make the dog feel more comfortable.

How to Properly Carry a Dog: Special Equipment Designed to Carry Dogs

Special equipment can be used to assist with lifting your dog and carrying your dog. Dog owners enjoy taking their dogs on bike rides, hiking trips, and even just out for a stroll in the city park.

Always be sure your dog is safe and secure when deciding on special equipment to carry your dog. When possible, try out the equipment before purchasing to make sure it’s a good fit for you and your dog.

Related Articles:

After learning how to properly carry a dog consider the following equipment to make your life easier while carrying your dog.

  • Dog Strollers. Purchase dog strollers based on your dog’s size and weight. A few considerations are protection from the sun and good ventilation.
  • Dog Backpacks. Dogs can ride in a backpack designed for carrying dogs,
  • Slings for Pets.  Allows you to carry your dog on the front of your body.
  • Lifting belts/harness.  A lifting harness is similar to a sling in that it wraps around the dog’s body and has a long handle for assisting the dog. It allows you to take some of the weight off your dog’s hips and assist them.
  • Emergency Dog Carriers.  These are essential for dog owners that hike in the back country with their dog.  If your dog has a sprain or injured paw pad, using a dog carrier can safely get them back to your vehicle.

How to Properly Carry a Dog: Ways to Avoid Lifting and Carrying a Dog

While it is very important to know how to properly carry a dog, it is just as vital to know what to avoid when carrying or lifting a dog.  In order to prevent injuries to the shoulders, elbows, and back avoid picking up your dog in the following three ways.

  1. Do not lift your dog with his front legs or right under the armpits (this includes puppies).
  2. Avoid the one-arm carry with your dog’s hind end hanging down. 
  3. Do not lift your dog by the scruff of their neck.  (Only female dogs that have a litter of puppies are allowed to do this carry.)

When your dog’s legs hang down it puts unnecessary stress on the spine.  It can also cause twisting and muscle strains which leads to one-sided muscle shortening.

Related Articles:

The Bottom Line: How to Properly Carry a Dog

The key to remember when carrying your dog is making sure their body posture is still in a natural position.  If possible, ask a family member or friend to watch to see if you lift and carry your dog in the healthiest fashion.

Look to see if all their legs are supported and not hanging down or sticking straight out in an unnatural position. Next, always look to see if the back is in a naturally straight position and not arched unnaturally.

Dog owners can enjoy holding their dogs when they implant how to properly carry a dog. You want your dog healthy, comfortable, and happy.

Relevant Articles:

Please read our Legal Disclaimer

No products in the cart.