Golden Retrievers are beautiful animals. Famous for being loving, caring companions, on rare occasion this might not be the case. So what drives a normally caring breed to ‘break bad’? In this article we are going to talk about what to do if your golden retriever is aggressive. Let’s take a moment and talk about that angry golden retriever.
Help! My Golden Retriever puppy is aggressive!
So, is your Golden Retriever aggressive to you or to other dogs? There are a number of reasons why a dog might exhibit such behaviors. First, when was your puppy weaned? If your puppy was weaned before spending at least 8 – 10 weeks with its mom and the other pups then this could be a contributing factor.
Early puppy socialization
When a puppy is young it spends a lot of time getting used to people and other puppies. This is actually a very important phase in your puppies life. Play with other dogs, for instance, teaches your dog how hard to bite when playing. Playtime with the other dogs also teaches your dog to play well with others. If the puppy was weaned too early then this can be missed and it can get worse. Sometimes a puppy that has been weaned too early can become codependent on YOU for all of its socialization.
Golden retriever aggression problems
Aggression problems may also be the result of abuse. If you have adopted the puppy from a shelter and the previous owner was cruel then you will need to work on winning the pups trust. Don’t worry, this is something that is just going to take a little patience. Your dog wants to love you but is simply afraid. Whatever has caused the aggression, our first step is going to be the same. We want to identify the signs that your dog is about to get aggressive so that we can avoid it in the first place. Secondly, obedience training with lots of love and treats.
Warning signs of impending aggression
Most signs of aggression with a Golden Retriever may be ‘diverted’ with a well-timed distraction once you learn to recognize the signs. One thing to note, your diversionary tactics SHOULD NOT encourage treats. If you don’t want your Golden Retriever to be an ‘attack dog’ then keep the treats out of the aggression tempering. We don’t want your dog to think that aggression is rewarded. That said, commands such as ‘Sit!’ or ‘Come here’ can distract your dog and get them to listen to you instead of focusing on a new dog or person. So how do you recognize aggression? The most common signs are the following:
- Sudden energy or pacing
- Tail raised and ears pointing straight up
How to discipline a Golden Retriever with kindness
Distraction is the key as well as pretending that nothing is going on. By showing calm in front of the dog and playing with them then you are assuring them that everything is safe. Golden Retrievers are smart dogs and they are going to pick up on your cues, whether it is your aggression of an environment of fun and calm, so encourage your dog to be friendly with your own behavior.
When you are alone, bring back the treats!
When the ‘trigger’ for your dog’s aggression is no longer present then training with treats us just fine. Practice teaching your dog to sit, stay, or fetch (the last being one of the best distractions you can use. Retrievers love to fetch, it’s in the name!). The more time
” You might just be seeing your dog asserting dominance.”
that you spend obedience training your Golden Retriever then the more he or she will learn to trust you. It just takes time. So be patient, keep those treats and tricks coming, and show your dog with your behavior that everything is fine.
Keep in mind that not all aggression is bad
Sometimes your Golden Retriever may growl at a smaller dog. This is actually fairly normal. If they are not biting then you might just be seeing your dog asserting dominance. Watch your dog closely to make sure that it does not escalate but resist the urge to immediately separate them just because your dog growled. Your dog might think you are playing favorites with the other dog. Instead of pulling them apart you might also consider petting your dog and telling them ‘this dog is okay’. Pet the back, as you don’t want to touch the dog’s head until some of that aggression has been worked through.
Don’t ignore the aggressive behavior which IS bad
Aside from the ‘pecking order’ style of aggression, if your dog is being aggressive towards people or is overly aggressive to other dogs then you will want to address this as soon as possible. If your dog is a pup, that is the best, but older dogs can be taught as well. You just need to be very patient with your dog and ensure that the atmosphere at home is calm, fun, and loving.
Bring other people to playtime
If your dog is being aggressive to other people then maybe they just need to get used to more than one. If you live alone, the dog might be relying on you for all of their attention. Have a friend come over, introduce them, let your friend give the dog a treat (supervised) and start showing off some of the tricks that you have learned together. See if your dogs will do some of the same tricks for your friend if there is a treat in it for them. Slowly increase your dog’s comfort around humans.
In this article we have discussed what you can do if your Golden Retriever is aggressive. Learn to recognize the signs that your pet is agitated so that you can divert the behavior with a little old-fashioned training. Before you know it, your furry friend will settle in with the rest of the family!