If your Golden Retriever has been cowering a lot you are probably wondering why and what can be done about it.

This post will show you a number of reasons why your Golden Retriever might be doing it and what you can do about it.

So, why does my Golden Retriever cower? Possible reasons are that someone mistreated it, it’s unsure of its surroundings, previous owners neglected it, illness, injury, being aggressive around it or it might be going through a more fearful stage if it is a puppy still.

Your Golden Retriever might have been doing it for multiple different reasons and it could be the result of a combination of reasons. However, there are a number of things you can consider when trying to figure out the exact reason. There are also a number of things you can do about it.

Why your Golden Retriever cowers

Below, I will show you a number of reasons why your Golden Retriever could be doing it and what would make them more likely to be the main reason.

Someone mistreated it

The cause could be that someone mistreated it. This would be more likely if it started cowering suddenly after someone was aggressive towards it or if it cowers only when a certain person is around.

However, if it does seem to get anxious when a certain person is around it could also be the case that it just doesn’t trust them yet. This would be more likely if it has not had many interactions with that person yet or if it is a puppy.

It’s unsure of its environment

The reason why it has been doing it could be that it is unsure of its environment. This would be more likely if you recently adopted it. In this case, it would be likely that it will begin to improve its behavior as it becomes more comfortable in its new environment.

Previous owners neglected it

The reason why it has been doing it could be that previous owners mistreated it. This would be more likely if you adopted it from a shelter and you do not know who the previous owners were.

In this case, it would also be likely that it will improve over the course of weeks and months and it would help to also give it positive attention. If it does not improve over the course of weeks and months, it would help to consult with a vet.

Illness or injury

The cause could be that it has gotten an illness or injury. This would be more likely if it has started doing it suddenly and if it has been showing other signs of being ill or injured such as vomiting, being fatigued when awake or limping. In this case, the best option would be to take it to a vet.

You are aggressive or emotional around it

If you are aggressive or emotional with your Golden Retriever, it could be why it cowers. This would be especially likely if it only cowers when you are around. Golden Retrievers tend to be highly responsive to their owner’s emotions. If their owner acts aggressively or emotionally with them, they will likely become uncomfortable because of it.

It is still young

If your Golden Retriever is still a puppy, it could be going through a more fearful stage that puppies can go through sometimes. It would still help to follow the tips below. If it does not stop cowering after a few weeks, the best option would be to take it to a vet.

Things to consider

Below are some things to consider when trying to understand why your Golden Retriever has been cowering.

If your Golden Retriever always seems to cower

If it does not always cower, it would help to consider the timing of when it does it since it could be the case that the timing has something to do with it.

If it only seems to cower at certain times then it would be likely that it has something to do with what is going on around it at that time. For example, if it does it more when you are about to leave home, it might be because it has separation anxiety.

Whereas, if your Golden Retriever always seems to get afraid of things then it would make it more likely that it has something to do with being mistreated when younger or not being able to socialize when it was younger.

When it started doing it

If it did not always cower, it would also help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it since it could be the case that there was an event that caused it to start.

If it started cowering suddenly, it would be more likely to be due to things such as being mistreated by someone, you were aggressive towards it, illness or injury. It would help to consider what happened when it started doing it.

Whereas, if it has always been cowering, it might be the case that you have inadvertently trained it to do it by rewarding it when it does it or it could be because previous owners mistreated it.

Who is around when it cowers

It would also help to consider if it does it when certain people are around. If it does, it could be a sign that it does it due to being mistreated.

How to get your Golden Retriever to stop cowering

Below are some options you have when getting your Golden Retriever to stop cowering.

Be calm around your Golden Retriever

As mentioned above, Golden Retrievers tend to be highly responsive to their owner’s emotions. This is why it is important to be calm around your Golden Retriever and to use positive reinforcement training to get it to behave the way that you want as opposed to using aggression.

Give it exercise and play with it

It would also help to give it exercise daily since they can behave abnormally when they do not get enough exercise. Generally, it is recommended for Golden Retrievers to get an hour of exercise per day when they are healthy adults.

Reward it when it does not cower

It would also help to reward it when it does not cower when it normally would and to stop rewarding it when it does start to cower.

It would also help to recognize when it is likely to start cowering and to redirect its focus onto doing something else such as laying down.

Avoid rewarding the cowering

It would also help to avoid rewarding it when it cowers unless it seems to be doing it for a specific reason such as being injured. If you reward it when it cowers by giving it things such as treats, toys or attention it might train it to cower more.

Instead, it would be better to reward it when it is well behaved and to redirect its behavior onto something else when it is about to cower.

Avoid physical punishment

If you punish it when it cowers it could also be making the behavior worse.

Instead, it would be better to avoid reacting when it does things that you don’t like and to use positive reinforcement training techniques instead of punishing it.

Get help from a vet

If you are unable to figure out why it has been doing it or you cannot get it to stop, it would also help to get help from a vet. By doing so you will be able to get expert advice tailored towards your particular Golden Retriever and to confirm or rule out injury or illness as the cause.

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I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.