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How to Pick Up a French Bulldog: 10 Vet-Approved Tips & Tricks

Grant Piper

By Grant Piper

young girl with french bulldog

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Karyn Kanowski

BVSc MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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French Bulldogs are small and sweet dogs. Many Frenchies are small enough that they can easily be picked up. Many people like to grab their dogs, pick them up and cuddle them. Some people just pick up their dogs without giving it much thought, but there is a correct and proper way to pick up a French Bulldog. These tips will help ensure that you keep your beloved Frenchie safe and comfortable while you pick them up.

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Preparation

All you need to complete this task is:

  • You
  • Your French Bulldog
  • Some treats
  • A calm environment and a can-do attitude

Do not attempt to pick up a French Bulldog (or any other breed) that does not belong to you without express permission. To do otherwise can leave you with a nasty bite and an irate owner.

The 10 Tips & Tricks on How to Pick Up a French Bulldog

1. Tell Them You Are About to Pick Them Up

You should always let your French Bulldog know that you are about to pick them up. You can do this in two ways. You can make a verbal cue. Verbal cues include words like “up” or “lift,” or it can be a sentence like “I’m going to pick you up now.” This lets your dog know that you are going to try to pick them up. Over time, they will learn this cue, and they will not be scared or surprised if you try to lift them.

The other way you can communicate your intentions is through a physical cue. This can include something like putting your palms out or stretching your arms outward. Using a physical cue can help show your dog what your intentions are before you try and pick them up.

french bulldog with his owner
Image Credit: Funlovingukrainian, Shutterstock

2. Get The Positioning Right

Position your Frenchie so that their head is facing towards your non-dominant side (ie. if you are right-handed, have them facing side on, with their head end towards you left, their bottom to your right).


3. Scoop The Chest and Cradle the Butt (aka Under and Over)

Bend at the knees and scoop your non-dominant arm under their chest, behind the front legs, with the palm of your hand resting on the side of the chest that is facing away from you.

At the same time, reach your dominant arm over their hindquarters and gather their bottom against the inside of your forearm, your hand gently holding onto the hind leg closest to you.

This way, your dominant arm is taking the weight, whilst the other is steadying the front end.

french bulldog hold by owner
Image Credit: AnnaStills, Shutterstock

4. Hug Them Close

As you start to stand up, hold your Frenchie into your body; firm enough that they feel secure, but not so tight that they’re struggling for air!

The thing dogs hate about being picked up is feeling like they might fall, so hold them securely and calmly; if you are confident, they will trust you. If you are nervous or worried, they will be more likely to panic.

If they start to really struggle or thrash about, quietly hold them a little more firmly against your body. If they feel you loosen your hold, they might thrash all the more, but if their struggling doesn’t cause you to drop them or panic, they will usually settle down quickly.

Once you have your dog in your arms and you have picked them up, make sure you cradle your dog to your chest and make them feel warm and secure. Making your dog feel safe and secure in your arms will have many benefits, and it will teach them that being picked up is not scary.


5. Don’t Screw Up The Dismount

You might be reveling in your successful Frenchie pick-up, but the hardest part is yet to come; the putting back down. This is usually when your dog will go from a calm cuddler to a panicked pooch. As they feel your grip relaxing and see the ground getting closer, they may struggle free of your arms and flip-flop to the ground. This is where they can injure their backs, which is a particular risk for French Bulldogs.

When you’re ready to pop them down, use another verbal cue, like “down we go!” and then bend your knees, but do not loosen your grip until you’re back at ground level.

Once you have mastered the gentle pick up and put down, give your dog lots of praise, a fuss, and perhaps a treat or two.

woman holding french bulldog
Image Credit: Cookie Studio, Shutterstock

6. Know If or When To Quit

Whilst it is always an important part of bonding and training to make sure you can safely lift your Frenchie, if they, and you, are getting freaked out and panicked, or if they are struggling so much that you think you might drop them, take a break. Nothing will set things back more than a failed attempt and a dropped dog.

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How NOT to Pick Up a French Bulldog

There is both a right way and a wrong way to pick up a French Bulldog. You need to know the ways that you should never pick up your dog so you can avoid creating fear, anxiety, or injury in your dog. Here are the ways you should never try and pick up your French Bulldog.

7. Don’t Pick Them Up Without Warning

You should always try to give your dog a signal that you are about to pick them up. This can be a verbal signal like a word or phrase. It can also be a physical signal, like putting your hands out and approaching them slowly. Letting your dog know that you are going to pick them up will help build trust and understanding going forward. You should never grab your dog and pick them up without giving them some sort of warning.

french bulldog training
Image Credit: Serhii Yushkov, Shutterstock

8. Don’t Grab Them Quickly or Aggressively

If you try to run up and grab your dog in a fast or aggressive manner, you can end up scaring them. Grabbing them out of the blue can make a fearful connection between you, your dog, and being picked up. This can make it much more difficult to pick them up in the future. You should always try to move in a calm, consistent manner. Don’t run up on your dog, don’t grab them out of the blue, and don’t lash or jerk while you are picking them up.


9. Never Grab Them by the Collar or Neck

You should never grab a French Bulldog by the collar or by the scruff of their neck. It can be tempting to try and grab them in this manner when they are running away from you, but it can lead to pain and injury. You should never try to lift a Frenchie by the collar as this can cause bruising on the neck and potential strangulation. Avoid grabbing, pulling, or lifting a French Bulldog (or any dog for that matter) by the collar or neck in any situation.

girl holding french bulldog
Image Credit: Unchalee Khun, Shutterstock

10. Never Grab Them by the Legs

You should never grab any dogs by the legs, but that is especially true for French Bulldogs. French Bulldogs are stout and compact, and grabbing their legs can immediately pull on important parts of their back. Grabbing a French Bulldog by the legs can also cause injury to the legs or shoulder. It may cause your Frenchie to become fearful as well, which can make picking them up much more difficult in the future.

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Benefits of Picking Up Your French Bulldog Properly

The two biggest benefits of picking up your French Bulldog in the proper manner are that it keeps them safe and makes them feel secure. The number one priority while handling your dog should be safety. Picking up a dog improperly can cause injuries to you both. By keeping your dog safe when you pick them up, you will also make them feel secure, and over time, that security will evolve into comfort. When your dog feels safe, secure, and comfortable when you pick them up, they will be easier to pick up in the future, and the whole thing becomes a positive cycle.

When dogs do not feel safe or secure when being picked up, they will avoid it, making it more difficult and stressful the next time. That can result in a negative feedback loop rather than a positive one.

woman holding french bulldog
Image Credit: HighKey, Shutterstock

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Conclusion

It can often be necessary to pick up your dog, especially if they are small like a French Bulldog. Picking up your dog in the proper manner can ensure that your dog feels safe and secure. These tips will help prevent you from accidentally injuring your dog when picking them up. They will also help make your dog feel comfortable so that they don’t mind being picked up in the future.


Featured Image Credit: Irina Kozorog, Shutterstock

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