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Why Does My Dog Yelp When Picked Up

Dogs use different methods of communication to tell us how they are feeling or what they need.

They tend to use sounds to communicate with their humans and packs, and each sound has a different meaning depending on the context. 

Yelping is one of the main six sounds that dogs use to communicate. Depending on the situation, it can mean a variety of things.

It can indicate pain, fear, anxiety, or stress. Understanding why your dog is yelping will help you keep him healthy and stress-free.

In today’s guide, we’ll tell you why a dog yelps and what it means when you try to pick him up. We’ll also share with you recommendations on how to help your dog and what you should do if he yelps when you are trying to pick him up.

Why Do Dogs Yelp?

Photo of Dog Yelps

Your dog can yelp to communicate distress or pain to a member of its pack or a human. They can cry during playtime when the play is getting too rough. They do it to communicate to the other puppies that they should lower their intensity. 

Dogs use the yelp to communicate distress to their humans if they are friendly with them, so they usually do it with their owners.

Another reason for them to yelp is to show excitement and enthusiasm. They do it when their owners get back home, and it is usually accompanied by barks, licks, and a moving tail.

Your dog could also be yelping because of separation anxiety. This type of yelp can be produced by you leaving the house or locking him in another room.

Suppose you wish to reduce the problems caused by separation anxiety. In that case, you should start training your dog and help him understand that you won’t leave him and you will return eventually. 

A dog’s yelp is less intense than its whining and a bit less high-pitched and softer than a puppy’s crying. 

Reasons Dogs Yelp When Picked Up

Yelping is a way for dogs to communicate with their owners about a distressful situation or something that produces fear in them.

If your dogs are yelping when you try to pick them up, there might be a health-related reason or a physiological reason for it. 

Health Issues

Photo of Dog with Health Problems

If it is a health issue, you must pay attention to which part of your dog’s body you are touching when trying to pick him up. If you notice that the yelping only starts when you try to pick them up from the chest or back, then it is probable your dog might have suffered an injury. 

This reason is possible if the yelping has recently started and it didn’t happen in the past. So, if your dog has begun yelping all of a sudden, then there might be a health issue producing discomfort when carried. 

There’s a possibility that a ruptured disc is causing the pain. If that’s the case, pay attention to his walk and his energy throughout the day. If you notice something uncommon, then there’s a possibility that he yelps because of a ruptured disc. Ruptured discs can cause extreme pain for dogs. 

Other possibilities are neck or back injuries. Both injuries produce an enormous amount of pain for your dog. So, if that’s the case, you should act immediately and take your dog to the vet.

If your dog is a senior or a breed that suffers from joint issues, then avoid carrying him if he yelps. He is probably suffering from joint or muscle problems, and you trying to pick him up will only worsen the pain.

Other health issues could produce pain and, therefore, yelping. Try to check your dog’s skin for sores or an outside injury. If you find one, then that might be why he feels pain when you try to pick him up. 

Psychological Issues

If your dog yelps whenever you try to pick him up, regardless of which part of his body you are touching, then the reason could be psychological. 

He might yelp because of fear of being dropped. If you have dropped your dog in the past, he may hold onto this fear. If your dog has been dropped when carried, he will now be afraid of it happening again. 

One more reason for a dog to yelp is distrust. If you’ve done something to make your dog fear you, then your dog won’t feel comfortable when you try to approach him. If that’s the case, then he will also be distrustful of your touch and will growl at you. 

Additionally, a dog can yelp if he or she is stressed or feeling anxious. So, try to understand what your dog is trying to communicate with you before picking him or her up.

What To Do To Help My Dog?

Photo of Dog Yelp When Picked Up

The most important thing you can do is to pay attention to your dog throughout the day. Check on him to collect all the information you can, and then use it to find the right solution.

Try to find out the following information:

  • Where the pain comes from 
  • For how long your dog has been yelping when you try to pick him up
  • How and when your dog got injured

With all this information, you can help your veterinarian when the times come to contact him or her. Make sure to visit the vet with all of the details, especially if you don’t know how your dog got injured. 

If your dog is yelping because of fear, stress, or anxiety, you should understand what is causing the reaction. If your dog is afraid of being dropped, then do it slowly and step by step. Try to make your dog comfortable before fully picking him up. 

When your dog yelps because of stress or anxiety, the solution is a bit trickier. You need to find the source of anxiety or stress and remove it so that your dog feels calm around you. 

Sometimes, your dog will yelp out of excitement. If that’s the case, your dog will be licking and jumping. Do not worry about this type of yelping, as it is just a sign of your dog being happy about spending time with you. 

If the yelp is produced by pain because of joint or muscle inflammation, you need to make sure  he gets enough water to drink. Water will help your dog reduce inflammation and pain. 

Should I Call a Vet?

Photo of Girl Holds Dog

If you believe that your dog is yelping because of pain, you should contact your vet as soon as possible. However, if for some reason you cannot get to the vet, limit your dog’s movement to avoid worsening the injury. 

Take your dog to the vet with all the information you’ve determined before. Knowing when did the yelp start, where the pain comes from, and when your dog got injured will help your veterinarian treat the problem. 

Overall, take your dog to the vet if you cannot determine why he is in pain or since when. The sooner he is treated, the sooner he will start healing. Therefore, the sooner you’ll have your dog playing and enjoying your time together. 

Other Sounds That Your Dog Can Use To Communicate With You

Here are the other sounds dogs can use to communicate discomfort, fear, anger, and other emotions. 


Dogs whine when they feel stressed about a situation. The whining is a high-pitch sound that can last for long periods, and it indicates the dog needs or wants something. Usually, they whine when they need attention or when they are away from their owners. 

The whining can also be a sign of separation anxiety. This condition is something that a lot of dogs suffer from, especially when they are puppies. To solve this, you should try to make your dog understand that you will be back if you leave them. 

The crying sound you hear from dogs is an exaggerated whine and is a product of high levels of stress or pain. 


Photo of Dog Barks

There are many reasons why dogs bark. It is their primary way to communicate vocally, and it can mean different things. They can bark to indicate they are in alert mode. They can bark out of boredom, fear, distress, play, and because they want attention. 

Learning what your dog barks mean in different situations will help you create a better relationship with him or her. For instance, your dog might be trying to communicate that he needs to go out or play with a loud bark directed at you. It does not mean he is angry or will attack you. 


The howling is usually a form of communication between pack members. However, it can also be a product of separation anxiety. Some dogs howl when they hear high-pitch noises like police sirens or firetrucks. 


Dogs growl as a warning for another dog, animal, or human to stop doing whatever they are doing. It is not usually a sign of aggression unless your dog has already shown aggression before. Do not try to confront a growling dog. Instead, try to understand what he wants. 

It is also common for dogs to growl while they play tug-of-war with you. In that case, it is a playful low-level growl that means your dog is enjoying his time playing with you. 


This sound is a more profound bark that dogs use when confronting an intruder or when they are about to start hunting. Baying is more common in hound dogs than in other breeds. 

Other Methods of Communication Your Dog Can Use

Photo of Dog Licks Painful Paw

Dogs use a complex combination of canine sounds, body movements, and scents to communicate with each other and their humans.

While body movements and sounds are their primary way of communication between them and humans, the scent is something they use more with each other. 

Their communication can be divided into different emotions. They can use it to express fear, anger, excitement, anxiety, and arousal. 

If a dog feels fear, he might start licking his lips even if he is not hungry or yawning even when he is not tired. He does this to show that he is not a threat to whomever or whatever they are afraid of. A dog may also tremble or lower his body if he is afraid of something or as a way to show respect. 

Another emotion dogs communicate with their bodies is aggression. It is a normal and natural thing for dogs to do, even if they have a calm temperament and personality. They will usually show aggression if they feel threatened by another animal or a human. 

Your dog will use this communication to show others that he will defend himself or what he considers is his property. A dog might show his teeth, growl, and stiffen his posture to communicate that he will attack if provoked. 

If the animal or human gets closer, the dog will bite, so avoid getting closer to dogs showing any aggression signs. 

On the other hand, there are ways dogs can show they are happy and enjoying your company. If they feel calm and relaxed, they will have their mouths open, almost as if they were smiling at you. Their heads and ears will be in a neutral position, and their tails might be moving from side to side. 

Understanding your dog’s body language will help you create a better relationship. 


If your dog is yelping when you try to pick him up, then the most important thing to do is determine why it is happening.

If you notice that your dog shows signs of pain or distress throughout the day,  it is imperative to take him to your vet.

Your dog could also be yelping because of fear or stress. If that’s the case, then try to get rid of whatever is producing the stress. If the reason is fear, your dog might have been dropped without your knowledge, and that’s the reason they are afraid of being picked up again.

Overall, a yelp is just another way your dog communicates what he thinks, feels, or needs. If you know what his yelp means, then you’ll be able to help him and keep him healthier and happier.