shih tzu growling when picked up

Shih Tzu Growling When Picked Up in 2023: Managing the Behavior

Is your shih tzu growling when picked up? This might indicate discomfort or fear. Understand why your shih tzu growls when picked up and how to respond to it.


Brief Overview of Shih Tzu Breed and their Common Behavior Traits

Shih Tzu is a small dog breed originating from China and considered to be one of the oldest breeds in the world. It is known for its long, silky coat, cute round face, and friendly temperament.

Shih Tzus are highly adaptable dogs that can live comfortably in small apartments or large homes with yards. They are also great with children and make excellent family pets.

However, like all breeds, Shih Tzus have their own unique behavior traits. One of the most notable is their tendency to bark excessively, whether out of excitement or fear.

They can also be stubborn at times and may require patience during training sessions. Additionally, they are prone to separation anxiety when left alone for extended periods.

Explanation of the Issue of Growling When Picked Up and its Potential Causes

While Shih Tzus are generally friendly dogs, some may exhibit growling behavior when picked up by their owners or other people. This can be concerning for pet owners as it may indicate a deeper underlying issue that needs addressing. The potential causes behind growling when being picked up by a Shih Tzu vary widely and can include fear or anxiety related to being lifted off the ground.

This could stem from an earlier negative experience such as rough handling or falling from a height. Pain or discomfort due to an underlying medical condition could also be a factor.

If your Shih Tzu growls when picked up frequently, it’s important to identify the root cause before deciding on an appropriate course of action to address this behavior problem effectively. Understanding the common behavior traits of Shih Tzus along with identifying potential causes behind growling when picked up is essential in managing this problem effectively while maintaining a safe environment for both you and your furry friend.

Possible Causes of Growling When Picked Up

Shih Tzus are known for their playful and affectionate nature, but it is not uncommon for them to display aggressive behaviors such as growling. Growling can be a sign of fear, discomfort, or anxiety and can be triggered by various factors. In this section, we will discuss the possible causes of growling when picked up.

Fear or Anxiety Related to Being Lifted Off the Ground

Dogs who have not been socialized properly may develop a fear of being lifted off the ground. This fear can be triggered by a previous negative experience, such as rough handling or being dropped. Shih Tzus are small dogs that often feel vulnerable when they are off the ground, making them more prone to displaying fearful behaviors.

In addition to past experiences, other factors such as loud or sudden noises, unfamiliar surroundings, and new people can also contribute to a dog’s anxiety and fear when being picked up. Dogs with separation anxiety may also display signs of distress when their owners lift them up as it signifies that they are being separated from their owner.

Pain or Discomfort Due to an Underlying Medical Condition

Growling can also be an indication that your dog is experiencing pain or discomfort due to an underlying medical condition. It is essential to rule out any medical issues before assuming that the behavior is a result of emotional distress. Common medical conditions that could cause pain include arthritis, hip dysplasia, and spinal problems.

Any movement that involves lifting your dog off the ground could trigger pain in these areas leading to growling behavior. If you suspect your dog may be in pain due to an underlying medical condition, take them for a thorough veterinary exam immediately.

Lack of Socialization or Negative Experiences with Being Handled

Dogs who have not been adequately socialized with humans or handled frequently may feel uncomfortable when being picked up. This can be due to a lack of exposure to human touch and interaction. Negative experiences such as rough handling can also lead to fear and aggression towards being picked up.

It is important to handle your Shih Tzu gently and ensure that they have positive interactions with humans from an early age. If your dog has not been socialized properly, it is never too late to start.

Gradually expose them to new people, environments, and situations in a controlled manner. Growling behavior when being picked up is multi-faceted and can be caused by various factors.

Identifying the cause can help you determine the best approach for addressing the issue effectively. In the next section, we will discuss behavior management techniques that can help reduce growling behavior when being lifted off the ground.

Behavior Management Techniques

Dealing with a Shih Tzu that growls when picked up can be a challenging experience. However, by using positive reinforcement training and other behavior management techniques, it is possible to train your dog to behave calmly when being lifted off the ground. Some of the most effective methods for managing this behavior include positive reinforcement training, desensitization exercises, and addressing underlying medical issues.

Positive Reinforcement Training

Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool for changing your Shih Tzu’s behavior. It involves rewarding good behavior with treats and praise while ignoring undesirable behavior.

This technique can be used to teach your dog to associate being picked up with positive experiences. To use positive reinforcement training for this issue, start by approaching your dog slowly and calmly.

If they growl or show signs of anxiety or fear, stop immediately and give them space. Once they have calmed down again, repeat the process while gradually getting closer until you are finally able to pick them up without any negative reactions.

When your Shih Tzu behaves calmly while being picked up, immediately reward them with a treat or praise in an enthusiastic tone of voice. Over time, they will begin to associate being picked up with positive experiences and may even seek out physical touch from you.

Desensitization Exercises

Desensitization exercises involve gradually exposing your dog to the trigger that causes their growling in a controlled environment. For example, if lifting them off the ground causes anxiety or fear, start by getting them used to sitting on elevated surfaces such as chairs or sofas.

Encourage them with treats and praise until they are comfortable with this new height before gradually increasing the elevation until you can lift them off the ground without any negative reactions. This process takes patience as you must slowly increase the intensity of physical contact over time; however desensitizing your Shih Tzu to being picked up can drastically reduce their anxiety and growling behaviors.

Addressing Underlying Medical Issues

If your Shih Tzu continues to exhibit growling behavior despite positive reinforcement training and desensitization exercises, it may be necessary to consult with a veterinarian. Underlying medical issues such as joint pain or other sources of discomfort are sometimes the cause of growling behavior when being picked up. By treating these medical conditions, it is possible to alleviate the pain and discomfort that your Shih Tzu is experiencing, thus reducing their anxiety and fear related to physical contact.

If you suspect that an underlying medical condition may be causing your dog’s behavior, contact a veterinarian immediately for diagnosis and treatment. Positive reinforcement training, desensitization exercises, and addressing underlying medical issues are all effective methods for managing Shih Tzu growling when picked up.

It’s important to approach these techniques with patience and consistency while avoiding punishment or aggression towards your furry friend. With proper management techniques in place, you can help your Shih Tzu feel more comfortable around you and enjoy a healthy relationship filled with love rather than fear.

Additional Tips for Managing Growling Behavior

Avoid Punishment: Why You Shouldn’t React Negatively to Growling

It can be tempting to scold or punish a dog for growling, but this can actually lead to more serious behavior problems down the line. Dogs that are punished for growling may become fearful and anxious, causing them to lash out aggressively without warning. In addition, punishment can damage the trust and bond between you and your pet.

Instead of punishing your Shih Tzu for growling, it’s important to address the underlying cause of their behavior. This may involve seeking professional help or working with a trainer to develop positive reinforcement techniques that encourage good behavior.

Respect Personal Space: How Allowing Your Dog More Control Can Lead to Better Outcomes

If your Shih Tzu is prone to growling when picked up, it’s important to respect their personal space and boundaries. Avoid forcing physical contact or initiating interactions before your dog is ready. Instead, allow them to approach you on their own terms and offer positive reinforcement when they display calm behavior.

Allowing your dog more control over situations where they feel uncomfortable can also build trust and strengthen the bond between you and your pet. By respecting their boundaries and needs, you’ll create an environment where they feel safe and secure.

Seek Professional Help if Necessary: When It’s Time to Call in an Expert

While many cases of growling when picked up can be addressed through positive reinforcement training and desensitization exercises, some dogs may require additional help from a professional trainer or behaviorist. If your Shih Tzu’s growling persists despite your best efforts at home, consider consulting with an expert who has experience working with dogs with similar issues. A qualified trainer or behaviorist can develop a customized plan that addresses the root cause of your dog’s behavior and helps you build a stronger relationship with your pet.


Managing growling behavior in Shih Tzus can be challenging, but with patience and understanding, it’s possible to help your pet feel more comfortable and secure. By avoiding punishment, respecting their personal space, and seeking professional help if necessary, you can promote positive behavior and strengthen the bond between you and your furry friend. Remember to be patient, consistent, and loving in your approach – with time and dedication, you’ll see positive changes in your Shih Tzu’s behavior.


Shih Tzu growling when picked up is a common issue that can be caused by fear or anxiety, pain or discomfort due to medical conditions, and lack of socialization or negative experiences. It is important to address this behavior as soon as possible to prevent it from escalating into more severe aggression. Behavior management techniques such as positive reinforcement training and desensitization exercises can help the dog feel more comfortable with being picked up.

Addressing any underlying medical issues should also be a priority. It is important to avoid punishing the dog for growling and to respect their personal space when handling them.

If the issue persists despite these techniques, it may be helpful to consult with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist who can provide additional guidance and support. With patience and consistency, it is possible to modify this behavior and create a positive association with being picked up.

As owners of these lovable pets, it’s our responsibility to ensure they live happy lives by providing them the best care possible including veterinary checkups, healthy food and proper exercise routines along with showing them love and affection. By doing so, not only we make sure our furry friends are happy but we are also rewarded by their unconditional love and loyalty which makes us feel good about ourselves too!

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