Pet Tips

Always Ask Before Picking Up Small Dogs

June 18, 2021

Small dogs often get a bad rap.  But hey, being adorably small isn’t (only) all about cookies and tummy rubs – it’s hard sometimes!  Imagine if you were walking down the street, minding your own business, and a stranger, who was much larger than you, approached.  Without saying anything in any language that you could understand, they just started sticking their hands in your face, trying to touch you, then grabbed you and picked you up.  You’d probably be pretty terrified right?  I know I would be!  I think it’d be understandable, even expected, for a human put in that situation to lash out.  Yet, it’s rather common for people to expect dogs to tolerate this type of treatment.  Have random people ever tried to pick up your small dog without asking?

Small dogs, especially, are often forced to deal with some unique situations.

While I’m, sadly, sure that it’s common for strangers to try manhandling dogs of all sizes, the number of times complete strangers have tried to randomly pick up my small dogs, without so much as asking me first, boggles my mind.  I know I’m preaching to the choir here, considering my readers are animal lovers, but I just don’t understand why some people feel it’s okay to attempt to pick up unfamiliar dogs without even asking the dog’s owner first!

Dogs are dogs are dogs, no matter the size, and they should all be treated with respect.

If you wouldn’t try to scoop up a random Great Dane (lol) or German Shepherd, then you shouldn’t do it to a Chihuahua or Papillon either.  How’s that old saying go…just because you can do something, doesn’t mean that you should.

Now that my Kitsune is older, I’m especially careful about keeping a close eye on how strangers interact with him.  Kit is the sweetest dog ever, and he loves making new friends, but he’s also 12+ years old, with some of the aches and pains that come with ageing.  It makes me nervous that if a stranger tried to pick him up and wasn’t careful enough they could hurt him.

It should be pretty common knowledge that a dog who is frightened, or in pain, can sometimes lash out at the cause of their fear/pain.  But of course, these days, being anything less than completely placid can, at best, earn a dog a bad reputation.

pick up small dog

Kit says “Hey, this belly isn’t going to rub itself!”

Kitsune and Fenrir sometimes ask people they know really well to pick them up.  Besides those rare occurrences, they both seem to very much prefer to keep interactions down on their own level.  To be honest, except for when they ask me to pick them up, or in the rare case of an emergency, I rarely even pick up my own small dogs.  I think I could count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen my partner, who lives with us, pick up Fen.

Small dogs are not toys!

If there’s something you wouldn’t do to a large dog, especially one you’re not familiar with, you shouldn’t do it to a small dog either.  In the absolute very least, if you want to pick up someone’s dog, ask first!  The person and the dog.  Meaning that, even if an owner gives you permission to pick up their dog, pay close attention to the dog’s body language.  If he/she signals in any way that they’re not comfortable in a situation, don’t force them into an interaction they’re not completely comfortable with.

/Rant.  What do you think?  If you have a smaller sized dog, have you had to deal with this issue too? 

Post originally uploaded June 15th, 2015.  Edited/reuploaded June 18th, 2021

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13 Comments

  • Reply ItalianBrian June 15, 2015 at 11:52 am

    I am really put off by parents who ALLOW their small children to walk up to a small dog and start petting it, and putting their FACES right next to the little dogs mouth. (no less the adults that do this, and feel FREE to just pick up someone strangers dog!) I have a 9 year old 4.5 lb. Chihuahua who is NOT used to children. You can BET that if my tiny dog bites you or your child you would sue ME!

    • Reply Michelle @ Paw Print Pet Blog June 15, 2015 at 3:31 pm

      Ugh I totally understand. Parent’s around here let their kids run towards Kit sometimes too and it always makes me nervous. So far he’s been fine around kids, but I don’t have children myself and haven’t taken a lot of time to expose him to children. Growing up my parent’s taught me to ALWAYS ask before going near a dog, no matter its size. Sad that so many parents these days don’t seem to teach their children that…let alone not following that rule themselves. Your dog is adorable, by the way! Thanks so much for sharing a picture and taking the time to comment.

    • Reply Joseph Robert Kennedy April 18, 2016 at 2:24 pm

      Agreed. People that take the time to understand that putting your face in most any other animals face can be perceived by the animal as a threat or challenge to them or their perceived territory.

      KIDS you NEVER put your face too close to a strange dog or really any other animals face. It is a good way to get bitten.

  • Reply Katty k June 15, 2015 at 11:48 pm

    so it’s not just ppl in my town that do this….
    I mean Pumpkin is big so most ppl don’t try to pick her up but I have had ppl run to pumpkin and give her a hug around her neck and I was thinking she was going to bite them normally I would not think she would bite anyone but this person ran up to her give her a hug around her neck then tried to pick her up she is 41lbs and is kid was like 10 maybe I told the kid to stop and she kept trying to pick her up and bared her teeth at the kid and her parents war watching the whole thing but her parents still did not see anything wrong what she did D: the kids parents kept saying it was my fault that Pumpkin bared her teeth at the kid

    I think Pumpkin did really well for the situation

    • Reply Michelle @ Paw Print Pet Blog June 16, 2015 at 9:17 am

      So horrible, poor Pumpkin. We get that a lot around here too. Usually it will be people who pet Kitsune without asking, sometimes children who don’t seem to know how to behave properly around dogs. Then once in awhile you get people like the guy I wrote about, who take it even further and actually pick up, or try to, other people’s dogs without asking! I just don’t get it, it’s disrespectful. I understand when it’s a child that they properly just haven’t been taught how act appropriately in that situation, but I’ve had stuff like this happen with adults too!

      • Reply Katty k June 16, 2015 at 12:35 pm

        I don’t understand what people are thinking I have had so many people(adults and kids) open the crates at the dog shelters adoption events and just let the dogs out for no reason and they don’t think there is a problem with them doing that

  • Reply Lauren Miller June 16, 2015 at 2:02 am

    Oh no! I’m sure that’s very frustrating! I have friends with small dogs and they complain about it all the time!

    • Reply Michelle @ Paw Print Pet Blog June 16, 2015 at 9:13 am

      It really is. I always worry that someone is going to accidentally hurt him, or best case just that it’s not a good feeling/experience for him. I know I would hate it if I were in his place. Especially since it’s important to me to make sure I don’t pick him up when he doesn’t want to be, then to have a stranger do it without any concern for Kit or my feelings is very frustrating.

  • Reply Anne( www.whiskerstopaws.com ) June 19, 2015 at 9:06 pm

    I have always had big dogs, so I have never had to deal with this. It seems like an extremely rude thing to do. I hope you gave this guy a piece of your mind!

  • Reply Random Musings June 19, 2015 at 9:11 pm

    I think it’s just rude to pick up someone’s dog without permission (unless it’s in the dog’s best interests eg the dog got loose from you and was running into a road). I’ve seen parents let a child approach a stranger’s dog and stroke it without checking the dog is ok with children that’s bad enough but to let them try and pick it up is mad! If the child is young though, you can’t blame them – if their parent’s allow it you can understand why they think its ok
    Popping by on the A to Z Road Trip
    Debbie
    http://www.myrandommusings.blogspot.com

  • Reply Greg August 21, 2015 at 8:52 am

    When my lab was only a couple months old, I was walking on the beach with him. A lady approached us, complimented my cute dog and then PICKED HIM UP. I was absolutely horrified. What if he had surgery or been injured? What if she startled him and he nipped her? What if he struggled and she dropped him?

    I was speechless at the time, but I really wish I had said something.

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