Shih Tzu Growling When Picked Up: Helps & Guide

shih tzu growling when picked up

Shih Tzu Growling When Picked Up: Helps & Guide

Ever wondered why your adorable Shih Tzu growls when you try to pick them up? It’s a common concern for many dog owners, but fear not understanding your furry friend’s behavior is the key. Shih Tzu’s are known for their gentle nature, but sometimes, they may express discomfort or anxiety through growling.

In this guide, we’ll delve into the reasons behind this behavior and explore simple steps to build trust and make being picked up a positive experience for your Shih Tzu. Let’s create a happy and harmonious bond with our furry companions!

Shih Tzu Temperament

  1. Gentle Nature:
    Shih Tzu‘s are known for their gentle and loving demeanor. They often form strong bonds with their owners, seeking companionship and affection.
  2. Affectionate Companions:
    These little dogs thrive on human interaction. They enjoy cuddling, sitting on laps, and being a part of family activities, making them ideal for those seeking a devoted companion.
  3. Playful and Energetic:
    Despite their small size, Shih Tzus are surprisingly playful and energetic. They enjoy interactive playtime and short walks, adapting well to various living environments.
  4. Alert and Social:
    Shih Tzu’s are alert and sociable, making them good watchdogs. They may bark to alert their owners of unfamiliar sounds, showcasing a protective side.
  5. Adaptable to Living Spaces:
    Whether in a spacious house or a cozy apartment, Shih Tzu’s adapt well to different living spaces. They fit into many different lifestyles because of their versatility and size.
  6. Sensitivity to Owners’ Emotions:
    Shih Tzus are sensitive to their owners’ emotions. They often provide comfort and companionship during times of stress or sadness, showcasing an intuitive understanding of human feelings.

Here are some additional things to keep in mind about the Shih Tzu temperament:

  • Shih Tzu’s can be barkers. Training and early socialization can assist to stop this behavior.
  • Shih Tzu’s can be sensitive to loud noises and sudden movements. It is important to provide them with a calm and quiet environment.
  • Shih Tzu’s require regular grooming. Their long hair needs to be brushed daily to prevent matting.
shih tzu growling when picked up

Reasons Shih Tzu’s Growl When Picked Up

  1. Pain or Discomfort:
    Shih Tzu’s may growl if they are experiencing pain or discomfort. It could be due to an underlying health issue, joint pain, or injury. A veterinary checkup can help rule out any physical ailments.
  2. Fear or Anxiety:
    Fearful or anxious Shih Tzu’s may growl when picked up. This could result from past negative experiences or a lack of socialization. Making the space soothing and tranquil can aid in reducing their nervousness.
  3. Lack of Trust:
    Shih Tzu’s thrive on trust and positive interactions. If they haven’t been properly introduced to being picked up or had negative experiences, they may growl as a protective response. Building trust through gradual desensitization is crucial.
  4. Territorial Instincts:
    Shih Tzu’s, despite their small size, can exhibit territorial behavior. They may growl when picked up if they perceive it as an invasion of their personal space. Gentle and patient handling can help address this issue.
  5. Communication of Discomfort:
    Growling is a natural canine communication method. Shih Tzu’s may use it to express discomfort or to set boundaries. It’s essential to pay attention to their body language and vocal cues to understand their feelings.
  6. Training Gaps:
    If a Shih Tzu hasn’t been trained positively to associate being picked up with good experiences, they may growl. Consistent positive reinforcement and rewards can help reshape their behavior.

Socialization and Handling

Importance of Early Socialization:

  • Early exposure to various people, environments, and situations is crucial for Shih Tzu’s.
  • Socialization helps prevent fearfulness and anxiety, contributing to a more confident and adaptable dog.

Positive Experiences with Being Picked Up:

  • Introduce your Shih Tzu to the concept of being picked up in a positive manner.
  • Use treats, praise, and gentle handling to create a connection between being lifted and positive experiences.

Familiarization with Different Handling Scenarios:

  • Gradually expose your Shih Tzu to different handling scenarios, such as nail trimming, grooming, and vet visits.
  • Make these experiences positive by associating them with treats and affection.

Building Trust Through Positive Reinforcement:

  • Use positive reinforcement techniques to build trust. Reward calm behavior during handling with treats and verbal praise.
  • Create a positive association between handling and enjoyable activities for your Shih Tzu.

Regular Interaction with Various People:

  • Encourage interactions with different people, including friends, family members, and strangers.
  • This helps your Shih Tzu become comfortable and friendly in various social situations.

Exposure to Different Environments:

  • Take your Shih Tzu to different places, exposing them to various sights, sounds, and smells.
  • This helps prevent fear of new environments and encourages adaptability.

Patient and Gentle Approach:

  • Approach socialization and handling with patience and gentleness.
  • Respect your Shih Tzu’s comfort levels and avoid forcing them into situations that cause distress.

Consistent Training:

  • Be consistent in your training efforts. Regular, positive interactions will reinforce good behavior and strengthen your bond with your Shih Tzu.

Training Techniques

Gradual Desensitization:

  • Start by adapting your Shih Tzu to your touch without lifting them. Gently stroke and pet them, ensuring they remain calm.
  • Gradually progress to lightly lifting them for short durations, rewarding calm behavior each time.

Positive Reinforcement:

  • Use treats, verbal praise, and affection to reward your Shih Tzu when they allow you to pick them up without growling.
  • Create a positive association between being lifted and enjoyable experiences.

Short and Positive Sessions:

  • Keep training sessions short to avoid overwhelming your Shih Tzu.
  • End each session on a positive note, reinforcing good behavior with treats and praise.

Association with Treats:

  • Before attempting to pick up your Shih Tzu, offer them a treat to create a positive expectation.
  • Gradually transition to picking them up immediately after the treat, reinforcing the positive connection.

Use of Commands:

  • Introduce simple commands like “up” or “lift” while picking up your Shih Tzu.
  • Consistently use these commands to create a routine, making your dog more comfortable with the process.

Respect Their Limits:

  • Pay attention to your Shih Tzu’s body language. If they show signs of discomfort or stress, stop the interaction and try again later.
  • Respect their limits and avoid pushing them beyond their comfort zone.

Consistency is Key:

  • Be consistent in your training approach. Regular, positive interactions will help reinforce the desired behavior over time.
  • To guarantee consistency, include additional family members in the training process.

Also Read: Is Shih Tzu Bite Dangerous? Helps & Guide


In conclusion, addressing a Shih Tzu’s growling when picked up requires understanding, patience, and positive reinforcement. By recognizing potential reasons such as pain, fear, or lack of trust, owners can tailor training approaches to meet their furry friend’s specific needs. Socialization and gentle handling play pivotal roles in fostering a confident and adaptable Shih Tzu.

Through consistent training sessions, short and positive interactions, and respecting their comfort levels, owners can build trust and reshape their Shih Tzu’s behavior over time. Professional guidance may be sought for persistent issues. Ultimately, a loving and patient approach will strengthen the bond, creating a harmonious relationship between owner and Shih Tzu.

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