Dog Yelps When Picked up Under Chest – Why and What to Do?

Well, for any dog owner, it is extremely heart-wrenching and worrying to see their pet dog cry. It may be common due to their being startled at some point, but it becomes a point of concern if they continue to yelp and cry.

There can be multiple reasons why a dog yelps when picked up under the chest. Usually, the dog will yelp when they are in severe pain. It can be difficult to find the actual cause behind the sudden yelping of your dog, no matter how strongly you see it. Sometimes, instead of outer injuries, there are inner injuries.

Here, we are going to cover some major reasons behind the sudden yelping and crying of your dog and will try to find a possible solution to this problem.

Reasons For Dog Yelps When Picked Up Under Chest

Reasons For Dog Yelps When Picked Up Under Chest

The most common reason, as stated by studies, is that they may get surprised if you pick them up suddenly. However, if the dog repeatedly cries, then there can be some serious issues. 

You should consult a veterinarian immediately to find out the exact reason behind the dog’s yelping. Sudden yelping and crying is a matter of concern, and the veterinarian can guide the owner best in this matter.

Here below is a list of some of the main causes of yelping in dogs. Have a quick look.

1. May Get Startled When Held for the First Time

The most common reason for small newborn puppies or those who are not trained properly to yelp loudly is that they have never been picked up and cuddled before. Not even by the breeders in the breeding homes. The main reason, they are unaware of the fact that they can look forward to some affection and cuddles from the owner. So, as a reflex, they suddenly yelp.

Some dogs don’t like being picked up, and they yelp suddenly whenever someone picks them up, and thus, the person immediately releases them. Your dog may lack socialization and be unaccustomed to being picked up.


  • Having such a puppy requires a lot of patience. Make sure you are patient while handling them.
  • Make sure your dog gets a lot of cuddles and pampering so that they get used to your touch and affection.
  • Don’t scoop the dog at once and scare them out.
  • Approach them slowly, call their names, and pick them up. They will become habitual gradually.
  • Keep giving them affection and love. Try to feed them with your hand so that they get accustomed to your touch.
  • Don’t stand over your dog, shadowing your dog; that will freak them out.
  • Come down to the level of the dog and then pick it up.

Don’t expect your dog to learn everything all at once, as this process is time-consuming. If their inability to recognize you is what caused them to yelp, they will no longer yelp when you touch them if they become accustomed to your touch after proper training.

2. Manner of Picking Up Under the Chest 

One of the main reasons for dogs’ yelping when picked up is the way they are picked up. Some people simply scoop up the dog or pup harshly or suddenly. Their way can be rough and painful, which leads the dog to yelp suddenly.

It’s noticed that when kids see a new puppy, they immediately go towards them and pick them up. This can be harsh and harmful for the pup, which is the reason that they mostly yelp when kids pick them up.


  • Teach kids how to handle dogs.
  • Don’t let anyone pick your dog roughly.
  • Keep the dogs down gently, and then pick them up gently from the sides. 
  • Small-breed dogs often die when they fall from their owners’ hands, so make sure they are handled properly.
  • Whenever you pick them up, support the dog’s underarms with a pointed finger and thumb.
  • Don’t use one hand while picking up the dog; use both hands. 
  • Hold them firmly by spreading your one hand wide under the dog’s chest and place the other hand on their croup and caress them.
  • Be careful while picking them, so you don’t hurt them anyway. 
  • If your dog is picked up by a kid, make sure you are there to guide them.
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3. Your Dog Could be in Excitement When Picked Up

Your Dog Could be in Excitement When Picked Up

It’s the nature of some dogs that they tend to yelp or cry out of excitement, and that is completely normal. You need to be a keen observer to decide whether your dog is yelping due to being scared or is just happy and yelping out of extreme excitement.

For dog owners, the yelping of their dog can be a tense situation, but at times it can be due to a joyful mood. So, there is no need to panic, and you need to observe their behavior first.


  • Find out whether the dog is yelping due to happiness or if there is something more to it. 
  • If it is due to happiness or sudden excitement, then there is no need to worry. It can be the nature of your dog to yelp whenever excited.
  • You can check if they are happy by their actions, like the sudden wagging of the tail, showing their tongues out and eyes wide open, and others.

4. Could be Scared

Well, the dog eventually gets scared when someone comes and picks them up suddenly. Sensing the situation, they start crying out and wiggling away from the arms of the holder.

Your dog may have been sleeping, resting, or having their own time, and if you go and suddenly pick them up, they will yelp, cry, and even try to get out of your grip.

When you approached your dog, was it sleeping? If your dog yelps or cries out right away, it could be because they were picked up harshly, forcefully, or suddenly, and if they calmed down right away after a good cuddle, it could be because you scared your dog by picking it up all at once and eventually disturbing their rest time.


When you are going to pick up your dog, make sure you don’t scare him. Look below for some points that will help you not scare your dog.

  • Come up to their level before picking them up.
  • Cuddle them softly once you pick them up.
  • Never hover over the dog. Make sure you don’t put unnecessary pressure on them so that they start wiggling from your hold.
  • Be gentle with the dog when you talk to them or pick them up.
  • Try talking to your dog soothingly.
  • Keep them close to your chest to provide them with love and warmth.
  • Don’t apply sudden force or pressure when you pick up your dog.
  • Make sure that your dog is aware of your presence and is familiar with you. The best way is to spend time with them and make them eat from your own hand.

5. May Have Spinal Issues 

Dogs not only have muscle and joint issues but also suffer from spinal issues. These issues are mainly due to problems in the middle part of their spines or the neck region.

The sudden pain in their neck or spine caused by spinal issues can make your dog yelp out aloud or cry hysterically. You may notice they are walking unevenly. It can be due to the same thing.

A dog with a spinal issue will suddenly cry because of the pressure on the nerves in that region. If not treated or ignored, this issue will lead to something severe, like the rupturing of intervertebral disks. Before that happens, contact the veterinarian as soon as possible.


If your dog shows signs of spinal issues like spinal pain or problems during walking, yelling when picked up, and others, consider the steps below. They will help.

  • In such a case, your dog needs immediate medical help.
  • An MRI of that area should be immediately taken.
  • Surgery should be done as soon as possible if the intervertebral disc in the spine ruptures.
  • After the surgery is performed, the dog should be taken care of properly.
  • At times like these, don’t make your dog feel left out and provide them with extra love and care.
  • Make sure the dog is given a proper and healthy diet. It will help the dog recover more quickly after surgery.
  • Strictly follow the advice that your dog’s veterinarian gives. They will advise you on different medications and the rest time that should be especially followed.
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6. May be Suffering From Joint or Muscle Pain

May be Suffering From Joint or Muscle Pain

The possible cause behind the yelping or crying of your dog is their muscle and joint pains. This pain can have several reasons, and when you pick them up, these muscles and joints get strained or stretched, resulting in them yelling loudly.

There can be two types of muscle pain in dogs: developmental or degenerative. Degenerative muscle pain is due to the wear and tear of muscles due to their regular activities. While developmental muscle pain is hereditary in some dogs, the best way to understand developmental muscle pain is by looking at examples of hip dysplasia in dogs such as German shepherds.

Monitor the behavior of your dog whenever it tends to move. This will only inform you about their joint or muscle pains. 


  • Be careful while handling your dog.
  • Take extra care of your dog and provide them with proper medications too.
  • Give some anti-inflammatory drugs. It will provide your dog with some relief,
  • Make sure he gets enough rest because healing joints and muscles is time-consuming.
  • Apply an ice pack or heating pack to the affected area. It will provide greater relief for the dog.
  • Make your dog walk slowly instead of forcing them to strain the muscles excessively. This will help in their faster recovery.
  • Consulting a veterinarian is the best possible way to help your dog.

7. May be Suffering from Muscle Cramps

We have discussed joints and muscle pains, but just like humans, our dogs can suffer from spasms or cramps.

These cramps or spasms are caused by overexertion or overworking of particular muscles. This will cause immense pain to them, making them yelp or cry loudly.

If you notice your dog limping or is unable to keep their legs straight, or if they are suffering from trembling or tremors, the possible reason behind all this can be their sudden muscle spasm.


  • To help your dog recover from spasms, you need to give him breaks in between work. 
  • Don’t let them overstrain or overwork their muscles; this will cause spasms. 
  • Allow your dog to rest for a day or two so that they can recover from that phase. 
  • Giving them water at constant intervals will help them a lot and provide relief to the affected muscles.

8. Wounds or Injuries Present in Their Bodies. 

There can be wounds or any injury in the dog’s body that, when touched or put pressure on, causes them extreme pain. The extreme pain from the wound will make them cry, and they will try to get away from the person’s hold to protect them.

If not treated properly, this wound can further cause infection, and it will lead to some serious issues. Visit the veterinarian so they can give you the proper treatment.


  • Handle your dog with care, and do not put extra force on any part of your dog’s body if you do not know about the injured part.
  • Instead of outer injury, there can be an inner injury, so extra pressure or force on any part will worsen it.
  • Keep dressing the wounds of your dog often.
  • Consult a veterinarian and properly treat the wound.
  • Make sure you treat wounds properly and cover them so that no infection is spread to any other part of their body.
  • Put ointment on their wounds regularly for faster recovery.

9. An Abnormal Skin Infection

An Abnormal Skin Infection

If a dog starts yelping while you’re picking it up and you notice everything else is fine, then the most probable reason could be the skin infection. In skin infections, the particular area not only becomes red or black but can be extremely painful.

In most cases, if the dog gets some blister or cyst or the formation of a tumor, then during the process of picking up, if by chance the particular skin area is touched, they tend to cry and yelp loudly.


  • Detects if a tumor, cyst, or blisters is present on the dog’s skin. 
  • Apply ointment to areas that have skin infections. 
  • Regular application of ointments will help them to heal quickly.
  • Immediately seek expert advice, if it is with tumors or cysts.

10. They may get anxious

Your dog may get anxious when picked up by a stranger. If they do not know the person who picks them up, it will make them yelp, cry, and even bite that person sometimes. 

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Not only that, if they find a larger dog nearby when you pick them up, they tend to get anxious. Thus, the sudden yelling and crying.


  • Try to remove the source that is causing your dog anxiety.
  • Make sure the owner or someone familiar is present there to make the dog comfortable with the stranger.
  • Do not give them the impression that you are separating them in any way.
  • If your dog doesn’t stop yelling, pick them up yourself and cuddle them to provide safety and affection as they tend to trust the owners most.

Signs and Symptoms that Show Your Dog is in Pain

Guessing the real cause of your dog’s yelping isn’t easy. You need to observe them and their behavior closely. The following are some of the most common things you will see in your dog if he or she is in pain.

1. Redness of the eye or eye discharge

If your dog has an infection in their eyes, they will most likely yelp and cry not only when picked up but also at other times.

Make sure you get your dog immediately checked and treated for an infection before it leads to something serious.

2. Difficulty in breathing

Due to extreme pain, your dog may suffer from breathing problems. Dogs mostly breathe quickly and heavily to prevent their bodies from overheating. If they continue to breathe heavily in cold weather, it could be a sign of a serious problem.

If your dog yelps and breaths heavily even in cold weather, immediately take your dog to the vet for medical help. The veterinarian can give you the best solution to their problem.

3. Appetite loss

Most animals, including dogs, suffering from pain show the first signs of appetite loss. They eventually reduce their eating habits or reduce the amount of food they eat when in pain.

If the pain turns out to be severe and unbearable, they will completely stop eating, and this is a matter of concern. Immediately take your dog for medical help to solve the issue.

What Should You Do If Your Dog Yelps When Being Picked Up?

Dogs are not vocal about their pain. You need to observe them by yourself, but don’t use force. Maybe during a soft tissue or joint injury, you may hurt them by applying force. Here is some advice you can follow if your dog yelps suddenly.

1. Examine them for any injuries

Examine your dog if they have an injury due to which they are crying or yelping. When they are injured and being picked from that part, they tend to cry.
Check them for any unusual behavior other than yelling, like loss of appetite, breathing problems, and so on.

2. Be careful while dealing with your dog

Be careful while dealing with your dog

Make sure you are not using one hand while holding your dog. Picking them with one hand can be dangerous. While picking up your dog, sit down, hold them with both hands, and don’t forget to cuddle them.

3. Be calm when approaching them

Be extremely calm when you are dealing with your dog that yelps suddenly—the sudden yelping demands for your caring.
If you burst on them, they may get afraid of you and will either run away or cry further.

4. Limit the movement of an injured part

If you see them with an injury, don’t force them to move that part. For the time being, tie-down that part and immediately visit the vet.
Limiting the movement of the injured part will provide the dog temporary relief until the doctor arrives.

5. Have a quick visit to the veterinarian

If you are unsure about the reasons, go to the veterinarian, even if they continue to yelp after you have made all of the necessary changes. A veterinarian knows your dog better than anyone else.

Make sure you go to a veterinarian who specializes in treating dogs of the breed that you have and who checks your dog properly. If, at any point, you find your veterinarian is not concerned about your dog’s issues, change the dog’s vet right away and go for a better one.


It is scary when your dog yelps when you pick them up, and you are unaware of the real reasons. The reasons mentioned above are some of the possible reasons, along with the advice you can follow in such situations. Make sure you are calm and composed while dealing with your dog, as during these times, they want attention and love.

Consult the veterinarian of your dog immediately if you are not informed and sure about the causes. Your veterinarian will help your dog out of this. Remember, you are the voice of your pet, so observe them and give proper information about their condition to the doctor. With proper medicine and a good period of rest, your dog will be alright again, smiling and playing around.