Pet Paradise Health Can You Safely Pick Up A Dog By The Scruff Of Her Neck?
picking dog up by scruff

Can You Safely Pick Up A Dog By The Scruff Of Her Neck?Can You Safely Pick Up A Dog By The Scruff Of Her Neck?


Instinct shouts cautions seeing someone grasp a squirming, wiggling puppy or small dog by the loose skin behind their neck to lift or carry them short distances. Won’t it hurt fragile structures or choke airways getting scruffed like a clumsy kitten? Yet the maneuver clearly triggers immobilization reminiscent of newborn transports by canine mothers. What aspects of this controversial handling technique prove safe, risky or downright taboo?


The Science Behind Scruffing

That distinct loose fold of skin over dogs’ shoulders serves an evolutionary purpose beyond convenient handholds – it protects vital arteries, veins and nerves supplying the head from damage if grasped by other canines in dominance tussles or mothers repositioning offspring. Puppies also exhibit an involuntary stiffening reflex when firmly scruffed stemming from connections between nerves and hormones. This keeps wriggly bodies safer if being dragged by mom.


Potential Benefits of Brief Scruffing

Veterinary behaviorists and groomers report judicious light scruffing in short bursts can restrain squirmy dogs without trauma for procedures like giving medication, trimming faces or examining ears. Fear reactions sometimes relax once scruffed instead of anxious dogs choking themselves against flat collars. Proper technique seems critical minimizing risks.


Dangers of Prolonged Scruffing

However, generalized manuals discourage owners routinely scruffing beyond the scattered necessity:

  • Breathing constriction if suspended solely by neck skin
  • Struggling/thrashing causes musculoskeletal injuries
  • Triggering irreversible fear imprinting through restraint
  • Damage fragile eye support if too roughly placed
  • Does not substitute proper leash handling training

Essentially, scruff respectfully just when critically useful but avoid casually replacing proper conditioning emphasizing cooperation.

Appropriate Applications

Brief gentle scruffing most acceptably applies only to:

  • Giving medication to dogs not hand tamed
  • Emergency restraints preventing greater harm
  • Very small puppies yet unable to walk far

Avoid scruffing higher anxiety dogs whenever possible and absolutely never as punishment. The temporary physical control poorly compensates emotional fallout.

Handle beloved dogs predominantly with compassion – including restraining them safely in unavoidable vet or grooming situations. Reserve force only for preventing immediate tragedy, not strong-arming the sensitive souls in our care.


Frequently Asked Questions

Can I scruff my elderly arthritic dog if struggling?

Avoid it – thin fragile skin tears easily in aging dogs. Use instead slings under bellies for mobility assistance during disorientation or stumbling spells minimizing additional joint stress.

Why does my dog growl when scruffed sometimes?

Interpret growls while scruffed as warnings they don’t feel secure about vulnerable contexts, not inherent aggression towards handlers. Use alternative calming methods to gradually rebuild trusting cooperation.

Is scruffing connected to asserting dominance over dogs?

Yes, unfortunately. Scruffing should only facilitate urgent practical handling, never as correction. Dominance theory is outdated and undesirable for training pets, often worsening behavioral issues long-term.

Regard proper scruff use as limited last resorts, not your go-to wrangling move whenever dogs fidget. Prioritize conditioning willing tolerance for handling instead through desensitization preventing problematic associations. When in doubt, don’t scruff it out without guidance!

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