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Dog Yelps When Picked Up: Is It Something Serious?

Dogs yelp for several reasons. If your dog yelps when picked up, there is a high possibility that they are suffering from pain.

Cuddling your dog and picking them up is an amazing feeling. It can be frustrating to find your dog yelping when you pick them up. 

Pain is the leading cause of yelping by dogs. Yelping is a signal from dogs that something is not right.

If your dog yelps when picked up, you should find out the reason to treat whatever is bothering them. 

This article explores the yelping behavior of dogs and gives you suggestions on how to stop your dog from yelping.

Dog Yelps When Picked Up

Dogs mainly yelp when they are in extreme pain. If your dog feels pain when you touch them, there is an underlying problem that needs to be resolved.

Keeping their dogs fit and healthy is the responsibility of every responsible dog owner. If your dog yelps when you pick them up, there can be several reasons behind it.

Some of the major reasons are:

  • They are in pain
  • They are startled
  • They are scared
  • There is a more serious medical condition behind it

Be aware of your dog’s physical and emotional health and take the necessary steps for their well-being.

Dog Yelps When Picked Up by vet

Physical Reasons Why Dogs Yelp When Picked Up

Dogs yelp due to injury or sudden jolts of pain. They can also yelp because of a musculoskeletal issue or the way you pick them up. Infections and illnesses can also be a cause of yelping.

Yelping is a pain reflex for dogs, much like humans grunt or groan. This pain can either be in the form of psychological or physical pain. Yelping can also be an indication that your dog is suffering from muscle, spine, or bone issues.

You should always observe your dog and try to figure out the key issue behind their yelping.

Here are five physical reasons why dogs yelp when picked up.

1. Injury

Tissue injuries, bruises, and open wounds near the chest area of your dog can cause them to yelp when picked up. A dog’s chest area is soft and prone to injuries. If your dog is whining when you carry them, there is a chance they sustained a few injuries.

These injuries can have occurred during playtimes while jumping or from falling from an elevated surface.

Check for any open wounds or signs of soreness near the chest area of your dog. It is also possible that your dog may have broken a rib. If this is the case, you should be able to see a dent in their chest cavity. This can be a serious cause for concern and should be treated with urgency.

Other injuries include muscle strains, bone fractures, or sprained ligaments.

Related: Dog Keeps Yelping Randomly

Dog injury

2. Musculoskeletal Issues

Neck pain, abdominal tightness, chest pain, arthritis, or pain in the back are also some of the reasons dogs yelp when picked up. 

If your dog is keeping its head down and does not move its neck much, it can be suffering from neck or joint pain. Large dog breeds such as the Great Danes are prone to hip dysplasia which can be painful for them.

If your dog is old and yelps when you touch them, check whether they are suffering from arthritis. Arthritis can be extremely painful as the cartilage in joints become tender with time which causes pain whenever the joints move.[1]

An issue with the spine can also be a reason behind yelping. Impingement of the shoulders or spinal cord can lead to sharp pains for dogs when they are picked up.[2]

If you notice anything out of the ordinary, consult a veterinarian to get your dog checked up.

Dog Musculoskeletal Issues

3. Cramps

Muscle spasms and cramps can make dogs yelp due to pain and difficulty moving their muscles. 

Cramps can cause:

Your dog can be whining because he is suffering from muscle cramps. Notice if your dog is shaking or has trouble straightening its legs. 

Cramps can occur due to extreme workouts, dehydration, injuries, and allergies.

4. Infections

Skin infections, rashes, or abnormal growth near the chest area can also result in yelping. If your dog is suffering from a tumor or a cyst, it can cry out in pain when you apply pressure to the affected site.

Lumps or lymph nodes[3] are tiny little bumps that swell if your dog has an infection. Try checking their armpits, under the jaw, in the groin, and around their shoulders for swollen lymph nodes. 

These lumps can be caused by allergies, bacteria, ticks, and fungal infections.

5. Picking Them Up the Wrong Way

Squeezing your dog too hard or poking them with fingernails are not ideal ways of picking them up. If you pick up your dog in a way that is uncomfortable for them, they may yelp in pain.

Try picking your dog slowly and gently. You do not want your fingers digging deep into their skin. If you have children in the house, teach them how to be gentle with dogs. 

Also, try not to drop your dog.

Picking Dog Up the Wrong Way

Psychological Reasons Why Dogs Yelp When Picked Up

Dogs can yelp when they are startled or when they are afraid. Some dogs even yelp because of the excitement to hug their owners.

Dogs love when their owners show affection for them. They usually welcome their owners to pick them up. If your dog is being uncomfortable or yelping when you pick them up, there can be some psychological signs that you should be aware of.

1. Emotional Shock

If you sneak up to your dog and suddenly pick them up, they can get startled, which can trigger a reflexive yelp.

This is the most harmless reason why your dog yelps when you pick them up

Your dog can also be showing signs of discomfort if they have ever been dropped before.

Dogs that have had a bad experience with being lifted can be wary of their owners pick them up again. Try to make them used to it by patting them and putting them in your lap when you are sitting.

Once they are used to it, a gentle lift won’t trigger a negative emotional response. You should also speak your pooch’s name before you pick them up so you don’t scare or startle them.

Dog Emotional Shock

2. Fear

Some dogs are afraid of heights, especially big dogs. Dogs can also develop a fear of being picked up if they have been dropped before. If your dog cries or whines when you pick them up, they are scared and want you to put them down.

You can use positive reinforcements to make your dog face their fear and become used to being picked up.

3. Excitement

One of the most harmless reasons why dogs yelp is excitement. If your dog is happy and eager to get picked up, it can yelp out of excitement.

If you are unsure whether your dog is yelping due to fear or excitement, check their body language. A dog’s tail can reveal a lot about its emotional state. If their tail is wagging quickly, they are excited. If their tail is between their legs, they are frightened or anxious.

Related: My Dog Yelps When I Lift His Tail

Dog Excitement

4. Anxiety

Dogs yelp when they are anxious. If your dog is suffering from separation anxiety, it may yelp when you pick it up to find comfort.

Your dog can also develop anxiety from various stressors such as another dog, a person, or some loud noise. 

How to Stop Dogs from Yelping When Picked Up

To stop your dog from yelping when picked up, identify the root cause of their behavior. Check for signs of injuries on your dog. It is also possible that your dog is suffering from infections that require immediate medical attention.

The first step to stopping dogs from yelping when being picked up is identifying the underlying cause. This will help you deal with the problem effectively.

If your dog has injuries on its body, you should get them checked and treated. You should also limit their movements and try to tone down the exercise routine.

If your dog is suffering from a medical condition such as infections, cramps, or musculoskeletal issues, visit a veterinarian to give your dog proper care.

Try to calm your dog down by getting them used to being picked up. You should always pick them gently, but not too gently that they fall. Call out their name and mentally prepare them before picking them up. This should help calm your dog down and make them open to it.

If your dog is small, like the Chihuahua, you can try lifting them with one arm, but it is better if you use two to avoid dropping them accidentally.

Shaking or difficulty in breathing can mean that your dog is in extreme pain. You should always visit a veterinarian if your dog’s condition worsens.


It can be annoying and worrying when your dog yelps. If they are doing it when you pick them up, there can be a physical or emotional issue. You should know about the different types of yelping causes and how to manage each of them.

Dogs don’t yelp often. They only do it under extreme pain and discomfort. To stop it, observe your dog and figure out what the probable cause is that makes them yelp in pain.

If you are unsure about how to proceed forward or what the reasons are, take your dog to a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.


Why Does My Dog Yelp When I Pick Him Up?

Your dog can be suffering from pain from injuries. There is also the possibility of your dog being scared due to a previous bad experience. Identify the root cause of the problem and take the right steps to make your dog feel comfortable when you pick them up.

Why Does My Dog Cry When I Pick Him Up?

Dogs can get infected with allergies, bacteria, and fungi. These allergies can cause lymph nodes to develop. If you press on these nodes, it creates a jolt of pain for your dog, which makes it yelp. If your dog is afraid of heights, it can cry when you pick them up.

Why Is My Dog Yelping in Pain When Picked Up?

Your dog can have injuries, musculoskeletal issues, or cramps that make it yelp in pain when you pick them up. It can also be that you are not picking them upright and are applying too much pressure while gripping. Pick them up gently and get them treated for any health issues.

About Dennis Stapleton

Dennis Stapleton has a passion for animals, especially dogs, and their relatives. He’s intrigued by their social structure and loves to write and teach about the world's most popular pet animal.

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