Ask the Trainer

Ask the Trainer: Changes at Home Have Made My Dog Cranky

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Dear Kevin,
My dog, LittleWolfe, and I have had many changes this year that has brought about a total disruption of what been the norm for almost ten years. He gets really cranky if i pick him up- he growls at me and has tried nipping at me at times. He is now 10 and is a Chinese Pug. I have had him since he was 8 weeks and I love this little guy so much. Not sure why he has this behavior or how to address it. Any and all suggestions appreciated.

Thank you,

Hi Karen,

Lots of sudden changes in the environment can result in behavior changes for dogs. Often times it’s caused by all the stress involved with those sudden changes. That being said things could possibly go back to normal once everything settles down.

In some instances, if a dog that has always enjoyed being picked up suddenly becomes cranky, there could be an underlying health issue. Assuming that you and a veterinarian have ruled out anything that may be causing LittleWolfe pain, there are some things you can do to make him comfortable with being carried again.

I would recommend getting him use to being picked up again by breaking it down into small increments. I would start off by getting something that he can lick off of a spoon, like peanut butter. As he is licking the spoon, get next to him so he is on your side and get him use to being in a position to be picked up. Do some repetition of that so he gets use to it.

From there I want you to continue on but move a little further in the process. The next step would be putting your arm around him while he is licking the PB. Once again do lots of repetition with this.

From there the next step would be applying some pressure just as if you were getting ready to pick him up. Do not actually pick him up though. Do lots of repetition of that with the peanut butter. From there you are ready to start doing small increments of picking him up.

Like I said, the overall idea is for him to get use to being picked up in small steps while getting something good. This should help get him over the hump of not enjoying being picked up. Also, do each of these steps over a period of days. Do not try to rush it. Don’t be afraid to hire a trainer to help guide you through this process.

Thank you for the question!
Kevin Duggan CPDT-KA

Kevin is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (  and is a Canine Good Citizen Evaluator through the American Kennel Club. He currently resides in Ohio with his dog, V, a six-year-old Shepherd/Lab mix, where he operates All Dogs Go To Kevin, LLC, specializing in helping build positive relationships between humans and their canine companions using clear communication, not pain and fear. For more training tips and tricks, and to meet his amazing dog, V,  follow him on Facebook by clicking here.

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