How you lift your dog - safely - when you need to carry it:


First a warning: Do not lift the dog as you would lift a child! The dog's front legs and shoulders are NOT capable of carrying its weight without a severe risk of permanent damage to the ligaments of the shoulders!

Here are the steps to follow when you lift a dog - without risking to hurt it, and without making your task impossible:

1. You need to get the dog up onto something that will enable you to bring your head below the dog's body. You take your arms around the dog, one at the front neck/chest, and one behind the bum, so that all four legs are between your arms:

You do not need to worry about choking the dog or damaging its throat; the muscles around the neck are some of the most powerful ones the dog has, and you can safely lift it by the head! (Please don't do it unless you really have to, for instance when lifting the dog out of water or out of a hole it cannot get out of on its own. The dog will for sure not like being lifted by the head - but it will suffer no damage from it. If you have a collar and a leash on, you can safely lift the dog through the leash. You just have to hope that your collar is tight enough....)

Did you say something about touching the bum...? You can wash your hands later!

This way, you can lift the dog safely - but you cannot carry it for very long before your arms get exhausted. But just find a stump or a log or a rock to use so you can get the dog a bit elevated.

Please notice that, for your own safety, you need to keep your bum on your heels!

2. With the dog now standing on the elevated spot you found, you kneel down and stick your head in between the dog's legs from one side.

You won't often have a bench available, but when you are out in the bush, you can easily find adequate substitutes.

This is a part that often makes the dog very uncomfortable when it does not know what to expect! Be gentle and patient with this step of the training. If you can't carry through with it all at once, then do it over several times, as you aim at making the dog comfortable with the odd situation.

You use your hands to get the legs that are closest to you gently maneuvered to your back, so you have one arm sticking out between the two front legs and the other arms between the two hind legs. With a bigger dog with long legs (like a Doberman), this is very easy. With a small dog, it doesn't really matter because you simply lift the dog with your hands till it is in the right position. But with a medium-sized dog like my Bettemuir, it is a bit tricky...

3. You keep your bum on your heel and now slowly raise your back to an almost upright position. As you do this, you must adjust the dog's position, so your shoulders continue to support it.

If you do not keep your bum on your heels and get the dog positioned comfortably before you raise, the dog will fall off your shoulders and land on the ground behind your feet!

Be very careful and continue to help the dog adjust, so it remains wells supported and comfortable.

Notice how the dog is not using its legs to support its body weight. It is actually quite comfortable to lie like that! It can become quite warm for you...

4. When your body is in an upright position, you stretch your legs and get up.

Again, you should help the dog adjust its position before you start it on "a bumpy ride"... It is very important that it is comfortable and trusts you. If it gets scared and suddenly start to wriggle, you are in trouble!

You can, as shown on the picture, grab the two paws at your chest with just one hand. That gives you a hand free to help the dog position itself so it is safe for all parties. This means that you have its body weight equally distributed on both your shoulders. With a "front-heavy" dog like a boxer, this can be tricky, but it is important that both you and the dog can feel balance. If not, the dog might try to adjust when you are unprepared for it...

5. After a final adjustment of the dog's position, you can now walk - and even have one hand free when you grab the two paws on your chest side with one hand.

Off you go!

This way, your carry the dog over significant distances without exhausting yourself.

When you are in the bush, you have to take into account that the dog's head "sticks out" to the side, so keep your distance to trees and other obstacles that could hit the dog when you pass by.

As you can see, my dog is very comfortable with this - she is almost falling asleep!

6. When you need a break, or you are at your destination, you need to get the dog down again. The procedure is exactly the reverse. Don't dump the dog on the ground. Instead, find a spot you can use as I used the bench for this demonstration. It is easy to get the dog onto a bench or a table or a car seat, and you can then lift it down from there with all four paws between your arms, just as we started.

If you want to learn more about practically useful stuff to teach your dog, you should join me on a camp course!

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