If your Golden Retriever is aggressive towards other dogs then it will be something that you’ll want to stop as soon as possible. This post will help you to figure out why your Golden Retriever does it and how to stop it.
So, why is my Golden Retriever aggressive towards other dogs? Possible reasons are a lack of exposure to other dogs, dominance, overly enthusiastic play, it’s being protective or that the other dogs previously mistreated it.
There are many different reasons why your Golden Retriever might be aggressive towards them and it could be a combination of different reasons. However, there are some things you can consider when trying to figure out the exact reason. There are also a number of things that you can do about it.
Why your Golden Retriever is aggressive to other dogs
Below are some possible reasons why it does it and what would make them more likely.
A lack of exposure to other dogs
One reason might be not getting much exposure to other dogs as a puppy. When Golden Retrievers are puppies they would normally get to interact with their littermates on a daily basis. This would allow them to learn that other dogs will not attack them, that they are friends and it also teaches them how to control their bite. If your Golden Retriever didn’t get to do that then it will still have it in its nature to be cautious of other dogs.
It could also be the case that your Golden Retriever does it because it is being dominant which would be more likely if it does it more when it is with smaller dogs. Signs that this could be the reason would include your Golden Retriever displaying other dominant behaviors such as trying to position itself in higher positions than you or being unresponsive to your command (although that could also be a lack of training).
Overly enthusiastic play
It might be the case that it is not actually attacking the other dogs. Rather, it might be playing with them in an overly enthusiastic way. When this happens it can cause dogs to display aggressive behavior like biting or growling. Regardless this is still something that you should try to stop.
Protecting territory or owner
It could also be the case that it does it because it is being protective which would be more likely if it also becomes aggressive around other people as well.
How to get your Golden Retriever to stop being aggressive
It can be difficult to stop dog aggression once it starts but there are a number of things that you can do that I’ll mention below.
Teach your dog to positively associate other dogs with rewards
One option would be to train it to have positive associations with other dogs by making use of positive association training. This is where you reward your Golden Retriever when other dogs are around and it is being well behaved causing it to have positive feelings towards being around other dogs.
One way to do this is to try the “open bar” technique where you give your Golden Retriever positive attention and a treat when you see other dogs on a walk. The positive attention and treat should stop when the other dog goes away. It should also stop if it starts being aggressive. The treat should also be a special treat that you only give to your Golden Retriever when other dogs are around.
You can also try “shaping” which is where you reward your Golden Retriever for making small steps towards being well behaved. You would start by rewarding it for not reacting when it sees other dogs and then you would gradually build up to rewarding it for playing with other dogs.
When you’re doing this you will want to reward your Golden Retriever for being well behaved before it has a chance to become aggressive so avoid making large jumps in what you ask of it.
For example, if you start out by rewarding it for being well behaved at a distance then don’t close the gap between you and the other dog too quickly. Instead, do so gradually so that your Golden Retriever can make small steps without being poorly behaved. This can be difficult to do if you just have one Golden Retriever so you could get a friend with a dog to help you out.
You can see more tips on this in the video below:
Try a “growl” class
Another option would be to take it to a growl class which is where dogs are trained to be less aggressive around other dogs.
Take it to vet or dog behaviorist
If you cannot get it to stop doing it, one option would be to get help from a professional dog trainer or behaviorist. By doing so, you should be able to see why it is doing it and how to get it to stop.
Things to consider
It would help to avoid punishing it when it misbehaves. The reason for this is that it might not know why it is being punished, it could cause it to become aggressive and it could cause it to develop feelings of resentment. Instead, it would help to give it positive reinforcement training so that it learns how it should behave.
It’s also recommended that you stay calm so that you can focus on the triggers of your dog’s aggression. By getting anxious you will reinforce its instinct to be cautious of other dogs.
It’s also important to avoid allowing the bad behavior to get reinforced. To do this, prevent the dog aggression as quickly as possible by diverting its attention onto something else. This can be done with other training exercises, by using a body block where you move your Golden Retriever away. It’s important to stop the behavior as soon as possible and preferably before it even has the chance to start acting aggressive.
Be patient. It is unlikely that you will be able to obtain big improvements with just one training session. But, if you train it consistently, you should be able to get much better results over the course of weeks or months.