Our Privacy/Cookie Policy contains detailed information about the types of cookies & related technology on our site, and some ways to opt out. By using the site, you agree to the uses of cookies and other technology as outlined in our Policy, and to our Terms of Use.


Should I Hold My New Puppy a Lot?

| Updated September 26, 2017

You should hold your new puppy a lot. After all, nothing is more snuggly than a soft, furry new puppy. Holding your pup bonds him to you and keeps him off the ground in places where he can be exposed to harmful diseases. While he’s in your arms, your puppy can explore lots of new sights and sounds while still feeling safe. However, you shouldn’t hold your puppy all day; sometimes he needs to sleep, play or take a break from the family.

Newborn Puppies Need Their Mom

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals notes that it’s important not to overhandle a newborn puppy. He loses body heat easily, so he shouldn’t be away from the warmth of his mother and litter mates for long. During the first two weeks of life, you may hold your newborn pup occasionally, but keep snuggling to a minimum.

Once the puppy is 3 weeks old, his eyes and ears are open and he’s ready to be handled more. Hold him several times per day for brief snuggle sessions.

Puppies Need Lots of Love

Hold your puppy to enjoy bonding with him, as long as he’s calm and happy. During his first three months of life, socialization is critical. Introduce him to lots of different people. Let them hold and snuggle him so he’ll learn that people are nice, not scary.

Before he’s fully vaccinated, your puppy shouldn’t be allowed to walk around in public places where he can be exposed to harmful diseases. Socialize your pup by holding him in your arms and walking down the street or around the park. He’ll be able to see lots of different people and animals, and hear noises like sirens, barking dogs and loud garbage trucks -- all from the safety of your arms. This way, he’ll learn that the world is an exciting place and won’t develop social anxiety.

Puppies Can Be Overwhelmed

A young puppy can easily become overstimulated, especially when he’s just moved in with his new family. When he’s passed from one family member to the next, he may become stressed and need some quiet time alone. Your pup might react by whining, crying, nipping or trying to wriggle out of your arms. Take him to his crate and let him relax with a chew toy while he settles down.

A 12-week-old puppy needs 15 to 20 hours of sleep. If he’s overwhelmed and anxious, it might be time for a nap. Move his crate to a quiet location in the house so he can sleep. Check on him occasionally; when he’s rested he’ll want to rejoin the family.

Puppies Want to Play

Sometimes squirmy puppies don’t want to be held. Your puppy needs plenty of play and exercise, in addition to snuggle time. He needs to explore his environment, and it’s good for him to bond with you in other ways.

Take cues from your puppy’s behavior. If you try to hold him when he’d rather run around, he could develop an aversion to snuggling. Instead, play with him. Roll or throw a ball for him to chase, play with a toy or just run around the yard with him.

Alternatives to Holding Your Puppy

If your puppy is a large breed, you may not want him to become accustomed to jumping into your lap for snuggles -- especially if he’ll weigh 150 pounds when he’s grown.

Instead of holding your puppy on your lap, place him on the floor and sit next to him while you pet him. You might allow him to rest his head on your knee. Introduce your preferred method of snuggling while he’s young and maintain the same practice consistently.