"Doctor, It Hurts When I do this" That's how the joke starts. The punch line is: "So stop doing that!"
A student asked me what she should do about her Shih Tzu growling at her when she picks him up.
I said, "Stop doing that".
The dog is being very clear about how he feels about being picked up and it has nothing to do with "Alpha" behavior. He doesn't trust the activity. Someone has been forcing him to deal with it and it's only convinced him how lousy that behavior is.
I asked the client, "If this was an 125 pound Great Dane, would you pick him up and carry him around?" I don't think a Shih Tzu should be treated any differently, but, that's a side issue.
Creating Desire is the best way to desensitize a dog to be held.
It has to be the dog’s idea. They need to want to be held by you.
Desensitize with treats placed on your lap allowing the dog to take them from your legs.
Don’t try to talk them into it. Be as silent as you can.
Only reach for the dog when they are literally standing against your chest.
Reach out, touch and then let go. Repeat.
Keep increasing the time you touch the dog and start to lift, setting them down almost immediately. Build on this behavior.
Only train for 5 minutes at a time. Use easily chewed small treats the dog doesn’t normally get.