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11 Reasons Why Your Dog Groans When You Pick Him Up

Why Does My Dog Groan When I Pick Him Up

Did you notice something weird when you picked Fido up?

You heard your dog make groaning noises and it made you wonder…

“Is this something to be concerned about?”

“What should I do?”

In this article, you’ll discover:

  • Whether acrophobia causes your dog to groan.
  • 11 reasons why your dog groans when you pick them up.
  • What breathing problems can cause a dog to be a groaner.
  • And a lot more…

Why does my dog groan when I pick him up?

Your dog groans when you pick him up because he’s sleepy, excited, guarding, uncertain, or a vocal breed. He could also suffer from osteoarthritis, stomach problems, injury, or breathing problems. Or you might pick him up wrongly. 

11 reasons why your dog groans when you pick him up

#1: Your dog is excited

Vocalizing is a form of communication in the doggo language. One way a dog communicates is through groaning. 

A dog’s groan could mean a lot of things. 

First off, it could mean excitement. Soft and low-sounding groans express excitement and happiness.

But the question is… 

What’s your dog excited about?

Picking your pooch up might be rewarding to them. Let’s say you shower them with kisses after picking them up. Or hand them a treat. 

Most pooches love rewards. If you do this often, your dog will associate being picked up with something they enjoy. They may be excited about the reward and they groan to express it. 

This can be compared to some people who shriek when they’re excited. 

I mostly notice little kids doing it. For example, when they’re about to open a wrapped gift. They make these sharp, high, and loud sounds due to their excitement. 

You can spot excitement in dogs by looking at their body language 

An excited pooch will have:

  • Tongue out.
  • A soft gaze.
  • Mouth open.
  • Ears are down.
  • Posture is relaxed.

Reading tip: Find Out Why Your Dog Acts Hyper All of a Sudden + 3 Tips

#2: Your dog is a talkative breed

“I’m just stating my opinion, Mom/Dad.”

Does your dog vocalize often?

If so, your pooch could be one of the vocal dog breeds. And that’s the answer to why they groan when you pick them up.

There are dogs who’re more talkative than others. The vocal breeds will seem to always have something to say. They do it in different ways. 

It may be through:

  • Yelping.
  • Barking.
  • Howling. 
  • Whining. 
  • Grunting.
  • Groaning.
  • Whimpering.

Being a talker is natural for guard dogs, herding dogs, and toy breeds. The reason for that is mainly to communicate better. 

For example, a guard dog will bark a lot when they detect a threat. It’s their way to alert their humans of what they’re sensing. 

The most vocal breeds according to vets are:

  • Beagle.
  • Chihuahua.
  • Bloodhound.
  • Pomeranian.
  • Basset Hound. 
  • Siberian Husky.
  • Yorkshire Terrier.
  • Alaskan Malamute. 
  • Miniature Pinscher.
  • German Shepherd.
  • Miniature Schnauzer.
  • American English Coonhound. 

#3: Your pooch is sleepy

Sleepy Dog Groans When Picked Up

Did you pick your dog up while they’re sleeping?

Or you did it when they’re about to fall asleep?

“You’re disturbing my sleep, Mom/Dad.”

Dr. Benjamin Hart says that it’s common to hear soft groans from sleepy or sleeping dogs.

Now, let’s say your dog guards your family during the night. Which results in them having little sleep. 

So, your dog’s groan when they’re picked up might be a sign of protest. Just imagine that happening to you. It’ll be annoying if someone disturbs your sleep. Even if they want to hug you.

A sleepy dog may appear:

  • Grumpy. 
  • Forgetful. 
  • Unfocused.
  • Disoriented.

Trivia: Did you know that a lack of sleep affects a dog’s health greatly?

Dogs need sleep as much as humans do. Sleep actually makes a dog’s body heal faster. It also improves their immune system. 

#4: Being picked up is new to Fido

“I prefer my feet to be on the ground, hooman.”

Your dog’s groan when being picked up might be a sign of uncertainty. 

This most likely happens to pups who’ve never been picked up before. As a result, this new experience might give them an uncomfortable feeling. 

Have you ever gone on a high roller coaster at an amusement park?

It could be super scary the first time. Some people are screaming at the top of their lungs. Personally, I’m too scared to even make a sound.

One thing’s for sure though…

It usually gives you an odd feeling in your stomach. Some people like it. While others panic at the sight and feeling of being off the ground.

That certain feeling could be the same to a dog who’s new to being picked up. 

Trivia: Did you know that familiarity starts when dogs reach 5 weeks old? Familiarity is when a dog starts to be aware of their surroundings.

Study says that 5 weeks of age is a “sensitive phase” for dogs. They’ll start to be afraid of unfamiliar things and situations. 

Researchers’ data shows that pups run away from something that is new to them. Such as new:

  • Toys.
  • People.
  • Animals.
  • Vehicles.
  • Situation.
  • Environment.

#5: Your pawed child has acrophobia

In connection to the previous reason. Groaning when being picked up might be due to a dog’s phobia of heights.

Acrophobia is an extreme fear of heights. This fear causes a dog to tremble and vocalize when being in a high place. 

“What causes a dog’s acrophobia?”

A dog’s fear of heights may be brought by…

Lack of exposure

Phobia of heights may start from a young age. Which is during puppyhood for dogs.

To puppies, a lot of things are new. Being in a high place or being picked up is one of those. 

Aside from puppies, adult or old pooches may also fear heights due to inexposure.

Let’s say you live in a stair-free home. Or your pooch has never experienced climbing couches or beds.

Given that they haven’t experienced it before. Now that they’re adults, dealing with heights which is something new will cause fear.

Traumatic experience

Did your dog experience falling from high places?

Or did someone hurt them while they’re off the ground?

If so, that could be the cause of their acrophobia.

What’s worse is if they’ve got an injury from that experience. And that could leave them disabled.

As a result, a dog will fear anything that is elevated. It could be stairs, sitting on the couch, or being picked up.

Medical condition

Medical issues might cause fear of heights in dogs. Such as injuries that cause them to feel pain when being picked up. Hip dysplasia, pelvic fracture, and fractured limbs for example. 

Signs of acrophobia in dogs appear when they’re off the ground. These are: 

  • Biting. 
  • Hiding.
  • Barking.
  • Whining. 
  • Growling. 
  • Chewing.
  • Trembling. 
  • Clinginess.

Read next: Wondering why your dog growls at nothing? Find out 9 real reasons why

#6: Your dog is guarding

Your Dog Is Guarding

Your dog could be guarding at the moment. Picking them up may cause them to lose their guard.

Hearing them groan could state that they’re resisting.

The reason?

They don’t want to lose sight of what they’re guarding. And you’re getting them away from it by picking them up.

This behavior is natural for guard dogs.

It’s common for guard dog breeds to be alert. Keeping a watchful eye on their territory and people. And they do it for protection.

“Protection from what?”

It could be a protection from intruders. Or defending their humans from potential harm. It could also be guarding their own property. Such as toys and feeders.

Here’s how to tell if your dog’s guarding – they’re:

  • Hoarding things.
  • Refusing to drop items. 
  • Being leash reactive or fearful.
  • Acting grumpy when being moved.
  • Eating faster when you approach.

Some of the guard dog breeds are:

  • Boxer.
  • Rottweiler.
  • Bull Terrier.
  • Bullmastiff.
  • Doberman.
  • Great Dane.
  • Cane Corso.
  • Belgian Shepherd.
  • German Shepherd.

Check out also: 15 Reasons That Make Dogs Growl At Night + 7 Tips To Stop It

#7: Your dog has a bone injury 

Your dog’s groan can also be due to a bone injury. Which your dog might’ve gotten without you being aware. 

So, picking them up might cause them pain. Especially if you happen to touch the injured part of their body.

Keep in mind that there are injuries that you can easily spot on. Like deformation in a dog’s body. But there are also injuries that you can’t easily see. Such as internal injuries. 

So, it’s best to watch signs of injury in dogs. These are:

  • Hiding.
  • Limping.
  • Shaking.
  • Stiffness. 
  • Vocalization. 
  • Heavy panting.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Excessive licking.
  • Change in body posture.

Trivia: Did you know that a common injury in dogs is femur fracture?

An analysis of patient records shows that 45% of injury is from femur fractures in dogs. This type of fracture occurs in a dog’s neck, head, and thigh bones. 

Now, what should you do if your dog has a bone injury?

Here’s what VEG says:

  • Never set the fracture – Trying to set the bone fracture will worsen the injury. A dog may also result in biting if they’re hurt. 
  • Don’t put any product on the injury – Ointments, creams, and sprays may contaminate an open fracture. 
  • Wrap the bleeding injury – First, your dog must be muzzled, or else they might show aggression. Then, wrap a clean cloth or towel on a dog’s bleeding fracture. Apply pressure to stop bleeding. 
  • Move to a safe location– Transfer your dog to a location where their injury won’t get worse. An example is a room with no possible obstruction. Or a soft bed to rest their body.
  • Bring someone to assist you– There must be someone to carry your dog. While the other must elevate the broken bone.
  • Head to the vet – Most importantly, bringing your dog to a vet for proper treatment. 

Read next: Why Dogs Lick Their Paws: 23 Reasons + 5 Tips

#8: You’re picking them up wrongly 

Your dog’s groan when being picked up could also mean…

“This is not right, Hooman.”

Dr. Osterfund says that it’s normal for a dog to groan when dog parents pick them up. Hearing a dog vocalize is common. Particularly if you put pressure on their abdomen. 

“What’s the right way of picking them up then?”

Here’s how to pick your dog up in the right way:

  1. Place your hand on your dog’s bottom. 
  2. Put your other hand on Fido’s chest. 
  3. Gently lift your dog up. 
  4. Keep them close to your body. 

For more details, here’s a Youtube video of Dr. Lindsay teaches how to pick dogs up correctly:

Reading tip: Discover 11 True Reasons Why Dogs Cry When Picked Up + 7 Easy Tips 

#9: Your dog has stomach problems 

It’s common to touch a dog’s belly when picking them up. 

But a dog with a stomach problem might groan because of pain. 

Common stomach problems in dogs are…


This refers to a condition of inflammation in a dog’s colon or large intestines. Common causes of this are eating inedible objects, worms, and food allergies. 

Symptoms of colitis are:

  • Diarrhea.
  • Lethargy.
  • Wet feces.
  • Weight loss.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Blood & mucus in stool.


This condition is when a dog’s stool appears to be hard as a rock. This is due to a lack of electrolytes and water on their colon.

Causes of this are: 

  • Age.
  • Stress.
  • Surgery.
  • Poor diet. 
  • Dehydration.
  • Spinal injury.
  • Lack of exercise. 
  • Excessive self-grooming.

Watch closely for symptoms of constipation in dogs. Such as:

  • Discomfort.
  • Painful defecation.
  • Stone-like hard soil.
  • Blood and mucus in stool.
  • Little production of feces.

Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV) 

A.k.a bloating. This condition occurs when a dog’s stomach becomes twisted due to:

  • Gas. 
  • Food.
  • Fluid. 

Some causes of GDV in dogs are:

  • Aging.
  • Stress.
  • Overeating. 
  • Eating very quickly.
  • Exercising after eating.
  • Excessive drinking of water. 


This stomach condition refers to stomach irritation that causes short-term or long-term vomiting. A common cause of this is when a dog eats inedible objects. 

Read also: 7 Causes For Dog Stretching + 3 Tips

#10: Your fur child has breathing problems

Does your dog’s groan coordinate with their breathing?


That could be due to a breathing problem. I bet you wonder what are the common respiratory problems in dogs. 

Let’s talk about…


This breathing condition refers to the inflammation of the larynx. Which is part of the throat a.k.a voice box. 

Causes of laryngitis in dogs are:

  • Injury.
  • Throat irritation.
  • Excessive barking.
  • Throat surgery trauma.
  • Swallowing foreign objects.
  • Inhaling dust, smoke, or gas.

Note: Laryngitis may come with distemper and tracheobronchitis, says VetManual.

Stertor and stridor in dogs 

This respiratory problem refers to the loud noises when a dog breathes. This happens when a dog’s airways narrow. 

Stertor and stridor are 2 different things. 

Here’s how to differentiate them:

  • Stertor – low-pitched snoring sound. This occurs when relaxed or flabby tissue or fluid vibrates.
  • Stridor – High pitched and noisy gurgling sound. This happens when hard tissues vibrate as air passes on the airways. 

Some causes of stertor and stridor in dogs are:

  • Narrow windpipe.
  • Muscular dysfunction.
  • Tumors in the trachea.
  • Obstruction in airways.
  • Paralysis in the voice box.

Further reading: 9 Reasons Why Your Dog Is Breathing Fast + 5 Tips

#11: Your pawed baby has osteoarthritis 

Does your dog groan and whimper when being picked up?

If so, that could be a sign of osteoarthritis (OA). 

A.k.a Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD). This condition happens when there’s inflammation in a dog’s joints. 

Some people might believe that it only occurs in senior pooches. But experts say that regardless of age, 20% of dogs suffer from DJD. 

What causes osteoarthritis in dogs?

The most common is aging. But other causes of DJD in dogs may be:

  • Obesity.
  • Giant breeds.
  • Ligament tears.
  • Joint infections.
  • Fractured limbs.
  • Improper nutrition. 

Watch closely for symptoms of OA in dogs:

  • Biting.
  • Licking.
  • Limping.
  • Chewing. 
  • Irritability.
  • Tiredness.
  • Changing behavior. 
  • Reluctance to move.
  • Whimpering when touched.

You might also like: 13 Weird Reasons Why Your Dog Groans + 5 Tips