Puppy Yelps When Grabbed By Scruff- Did I Do It Wrong?

Any owner wants to show their furry friends how much we love them. However, some people are confused because they don’t know how to handle the puppy properly.

Once the puppy yelps when grabbed by scruff, this could very well be a sign of a failed start.

This article of ours is a great help for those stuck in this situation.

Learn the useful information below, and you will have the safest and most effective method of training your four-legged friend.

What Is Scruffing A Dog?

puppy yelps when grabbed by scruff

The scruff is the floppy skin area on the nape of the neck, which is filled with nerve endings that are extremely sensitive to any dog.

Their control over this area is very poor, as they cannot see, reach, and groom themselves.

Sometimes, this loose skin area is so sensitive that it feels your touch, even when you’re not touching it.

When scruffing a dog for discipline, its body tends to “freeze” immediately and instinctively shrinks its legs.

Scruffing a puppy is also a symbol of domination for these adorable furry creatures. In the wild, Alpha dogs show their authority by biting the nape of other pack members.

Beginners often grab the puppy’s nape (like mother dogs do) without knowing that this action can hurt them.

For slightly larger dogs, lifting through scruffing is extremely damaging because the dog’s entire body weight puts pressure on the neck.

What Can I Know If My Puppy Yelps When Grabbed By Scruff?

When being grabbed, puppies react differently depending on their emotional state, such as going limp, whining, staring, or aggressiveness.

Here are the four most typical reactions and the messages they want to send you when the sensitive area is exposed.

Aggressiveness And Growling

When the dog begins to growl and become more irritable, it suffers from discomfort and pain.

It shows that the furry friend hates what you are doing and is trying to tell you to stop.

If the condition does not improve, some dogs will try to struggle and attack you. When free, puppies try to run away and get as far away from you as possible.

Whining And Yelping

Puppies that whine or purr when they feel someone touching their nape is a sign of anxiety and fear of being controlled.

Therefore, stop bothering them immediately, then calm their emotions by gently cuddling and caressing them.

Going Limp

A dog that limps when the scruff grabs it indicates feeling threatened and lacking a sense of security.

Like the “Whining and yelping” case, you must stop your actions immediately and give them space to settle down. Otherwise, they will never actively trust and approach you again.

Staring At The Owner’s

Most dogs look around when they are grabbed and picked up. But if your dog stares into your eyes (with a little groan), their eyes are filled with pity, fear, and sadness.

It’s showing discomfort more quietly and asking you to stop regaining control immediately.

How To Safely Pick Up A Dog By The Scruff For Training?

what is scruffing a dog

In the wild, the mother dog scruffs the puppies to move to new shelters or locations.

Many trainers mimic this action, but this mismanagement causes the furry friend to protest in annoyance.

So, how to train a dog by scruffing it?

Taking it easy without intimidation is the key to your four-legged friend’s peace of mind.

Follow the 4 tips using tone and body language compiled below, and your dog will go through the training session most comfortably.

Learn From The Professionals

First, observe how a professional animal trainer lifts a dog without causing this little friend to react negatively.

After following, you will learn techniques for proper hand posture, hand strength, or how to comfort them.

Attend pet care workshops or classes in your local area or through the Internet. You can also seek the advice of veterinarians with many years of experience working with these lovely pets.

Grasp Your Dog’s Scruff firmly But Gently

When grabbing the dog’s nape, be gentle but ensure it’s tight. Never use force at your fingertips to squeeze or pinch the puppy’s skin.

Say no to grabbing these furry friends too low. Instead, the solid scruff area right behind their heads, which is attached to the spine, is ideal for you to apply control.

Shake The Scruff Gently

Once you’ve got a firm hold of your furry friend’s scruff, you can shake it gently for a few seconds to get its attention and express displeasure.

The dog can recognize this message and stop resisting.

The key to dominance-based training is strengthening the positive bond between owner and pet. Therefore, never lose patience and apply violent sanctions on them.

Say “No” Through Eye-Contacting

Once you’ve successfully stopped your dog’s temper tantrums, issuing a warning is time. Maintain eye contact sternly and say “No” with a firm voice.

Your furry friend will quickly realize that you are displeased with their unwanted behavior. Once they get used to it, just saying “No” to you will make them stop the bad behavior immediately.


scruffing a puppy for biting

How Do Mom Dogs Use The Scruff?

Longtime dog owners are familiar with seeing doggie moms biting their puppies’ backs to bring them to new places.

It is also a discipline method to show the mother dog is unhappy with their behavior.

By grabbing the scruff and gently shaking them, puppies will succumb to their mother’s anger and become more docile.

The naughty puppy is curious about the world around them and tends to bite everything with a very strong bite force.

When playing with other herd members, they inadvertently hurt each other.

Then, the mother dog will grab the scruff for training and shake it gently. Puppies will learn to be gentle and adjust their bite force to be more appropriate.

Is Scruffing A Dog Cruel?

The answer can be “yes” or “no,” depending on how you treat your furry friend!

If you do the scruffing incorrectly, you can cause physical injury to the dog, such as pain and numbness in the nape and spine.

Repeating this control for many days also leads to serious psychological trauma, even depression, for dogs.

Once you know how to do neck grabs properly, you can lift and train the small dogs above the ground.

But when your four-legged friend gets a little bigger, never lift them, or their spine will suffer serious damage.

Does Scruffing A Dog Hurt Them?

It is entirely possible if you don’t have experience scruffing puppies properly!

The neck area of puppies is very sensitive due to the concentration of many nerves, leading to very large lesions.

When lifted improperly, their body weight pressures the scruff area, leading to their whining and protesting behaviors.

Your furry friend risks serious physical and emotional harm if you don’t stop.

Our Final Thought

In this article, I’ve shared all the helpful information regarding scruffing a dog and the signs that your dog is upset.

If a puppy yelps when grabbed by scruff, stop your actions immediately because you are making their feelings worse.

Instead, follow the coaching tips in this article, and you’ll be on your way to success.

And now, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and start the pet training session. Good luck!


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Hi I am Mitchell. Dog Growth is a blog about dog caring and training where I share my experiences to my community. Hope you enjoy it!

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