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How to Properly Restrain a Dog

Linda Sarhan has been a freelance writer and researcher for 20+ years and has a B.A. in English and creative writing.


Many people consider their dog a member of the family. In fact, several people will refer to their dog as their child. Knowing how to properly handle and restrain your dog will not only help you but will prevent any injury from coming to your beloved pet.

There are several reasons why you may need to restrain your dog. Some of these reasons may include giving medication, brushing their teeth, and even simply to examine your dog who may have suffered an injury. Veterinarians and Veterinary Technicians have special techniques to help keep control of your dog and allow your dog to feel safe and calm.

Keep in mind that there are other, more advanced, techniques that may be used by trained professionals. However, these techniques are basic restraint techniques that should be learned by dog owners, just in case they have to examine their dog for whatever the reason. This will greatly reduce the possibility of injury to the dog and the person handling the dog.

Greeting the Dog

Even if you have known your dog for years, it is well advised that you still greet your dog before any lifting or restraining. Gaining your dog's confidence and respect will help in the ease of caring for your pet.

Dogs don't feel as threatened if you kneel down to their level. Speak to them in soft nurturing tones and extend the back of your hand so they may smell your hand. If the appears relaxed and wags its tail, then this is a good sign that your dog accepts your approach and greeting.

Now is a good time to start scratching the dog behind the ears. Then you can move on to petting the dog along its body. This allows the dog to get used to the idea of you touching and holding it. If the dog is receptive, its body will relax more and will show little if any resistance to you. This is a good time to lift the dog onto a table or surface that you can examine it better or administer treatment with ease.

Lifting the Dog

Knowing the proper way to lift your dog can help prevent injuries and help them feel more secure. Lifting small and medium size dogs are easier than large dogs. First place one arm around the front of their chest and your other arm around their rump. When you go to lift your dog, pull the dog close to your chest. This is not only to protect yourself from injury but to help the dog feel safe in you handling it. It is good to remember to keep your dog's head away from your face because if the dog begins to panic or feel distressed in any way, you do not want to risk injury to yourself.

It is advised to have two people to lift a large dog. Large dogs are known to struggle more than smaller dogs. This is because they aren't used to being handle this way much less lifted at all. Even if you feel strong enough to lift the dog yourself, you run the risk of inflicting injury to yourself and the dog. However if you must lift the dog by yourself, you can place one arm between the dog's forelegs and your other arm under its abdomen. For a two person lift, they should both squat to one side of the dog. One person will cradle the dogs head to them with one arm and the other arms should be under the dog's chest. The second person will place one arm under its abdomen and the other arm around its rump.

More Restraining Tips

Veterinarians may need assistance in restraining a dog for a variety of procedures. If you need to examine your dog at home for whatever reason, these techniques may come in handy and help secure the safety of your dog.

  • Remember to always secure the dog's head. To do this you simply wrap an arm around its chest and hold the side of its head to your shoulder.
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  • Pulling the dog's body close to yours will limit the dog's movement and make it easier to examine. To do this, simply take your other arm and wrap it around the dog's body.
  • Most dogs will instinctively struggle. It is sometimes a good idea to practice these restraint techniques with your dog so that it will feel more secure when they visit the veterinarian.
  • If your dog still shows anxiety about being examined, try distracting your dog from the procedure by scratching the dog's back.
  • If your dog is known to bite, a muzzle with quick snap safety releases will help. Dog will bite because this is one of the few ways to communicate that they are scared or simply object to what is going on. Using a muzzle will not only keep your safety in mind, but your pet's as well.

Using proper restraining techniques are crucial. These techniques will help prevent injuries to both you and your dog. The more you work with your animal, the more accepting it may become. This in turn makes it easier on you, your dog, and your veterinarian.

© 2015 Linda Sarhan


Gabi on January 07, 2016:


Are you able to tell me the breed of the dog in the first picture? We have one the same, but no one is able to tell us what breed she is.

Mackenzie Sage Wright on March 23, 2015:

Good tips; my dog is 40 lbs, and he usually hates being picked up and struggles, except for my son, who he trusts implicitly (my son is in charge of the dog's walking/feeding/bathing/daily care). He's the only person the dog will willingly allow to pick him up. I always struggle with him at the vets and when trying to clip his nails, I'm going to try some of your suggestions.

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