If your Golden Retriever has been grabbing or biting your arm you might want to know why and what you can do about it.
This post will show you a number of possible causes and what you can do about it.
So, why does my Golden Retriever bite my arms? Possible reasons are that it wants attention, it is teething, it has not been trained not to, inadvertently rewarding the behavior or that it is excited.
There are a number of reasons why it might be doing it but there are also some things you can consider when figuring out the exact reason. There are also a number of things you can do to get it to stop.
Why your Golden Retriever bites your hands and arms
Below are a number of possible causes and what would make them more likely.
It wants attention
The cause could be that it is looking for attention or a reaction from you. This would be more likely if it does it more when it has not been getting much attention or if you tend to give it more attention when it does it.
Instead, it would help to give it attention throughout the day by playing with it, training it and exercising it. However, it would help to avoid rewarding it with attention when it bites your arms. To do so you would hide your arms and ignore it, leaving the room if necessary and then you would give it attention once it has started to calm down. If it starts to misbehave again you would go back to ignoring it until it stops.
It is teething
The cause could also be that it is teething. This would be more likely if it has started doing it suddenly, it is still a puppy and if it has started biting on other things as well.
In this case, it would help to train it to learn not to bite your arms as mentioned above. But, it would also help to give it lots of things such as toys to chew on so that it can soothe its gums and to avoid having it chew on things you don’t want it to.
It wasn’t trained not to as a puppy
If you didn’t give it much training as a puppy then it might not have learned that it is not ok to bite your arms. This is why it is important to give it training even if it is an adult. In this case, it would help to start giving it training by starting with the basics such as to sit and stay and then to build up from there.
You have inadvertently been reinforcing the behavior
It could be the case that you have inadvertently trained it to do it by giving it things it wants when it does it. If you tend to give it things such as extra attention, toys or treats when it bites your arms then it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.
Instead, it would help to reward it when it is being well behaved and stop giving it what it wants until it calms down.
The cause could be that it is trying to show its excitement. This would be more likely if it does it more in situations such as when you come home or when you are about to take it for a walk.
In this case, it would help to withdraw your arms and attention when it starts doing it and to reward it when it stops biting.
It is exploring
Dogs interact with the environment using their mouths and their noses as much as they do with their eyes and even more so when they are puppies.
The reason why your Golden Retriever has been biting your arms and hands could be that it’s because it is interacting with them. This would be more likely if it is a puppy.
Even if this is the case it will still be important to get it to stop by training it not to bite your arms or hands.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider about your Golden Retriever biting or grabbing your hands or arms.
When it started doing it
It would help to consider when it first started doing it since it could be the case that there was an event that caused it to start doing it.
If it started doing it suddenly it would make it more likely to be due to things such as teething, learning that it gets rewards when it does it or it started getting less attention.
How old your Golden Retriever is
It would also help to consider how old it is. If it is a puppy still then it would be much more likely that it is doing it because it is teething but it would still help to give it training now to get it to stop. Whereas, if it is an adult, it would be more likely that it learned that it gets things it wants when it does it.
How aggressively it bites your arms and hands
It would also help to consider how aggressively it does it. If it has been doing it aggressively then it would be advised that you get help from a professional dog trainer or behaviorist in your area so that you can see how to get it to stop safely.
When and where it bites your arms
It would also help to consider the timing of when and where it does it since it could be the case that the timing has something to do with it.
For example, if it tends to do it when you come home it would be more likely that it is doing it due to excitement and looking for attention. In this case, it would likely help to avoid rewarding it with attention until it stops biting.
How to get your Golden Retriever to stop biting your arms and hands
Below are some options you have when getting it to stop doing it.
Train it not to
One option would be to train it using positive reinforcement training which focuses on reinforcing good behaviors by rewarding them and avoiding rewarding negative behaviors.
To use it to get it to stop biting, you would:
- Stand up and prevent it from biting your arms or hands by leaving the room if necessary.
- Wait a few moments and then go back to giving it attention and then preventing it from biting them again if it starts biting
- Repeat the above until it learns that biting causes it to lose your attention
- Reward it with a treat when it does particularly well
You can watch the video below to see more on how to get your Golden Retriever to stop biting your arms with positive reinforcement training along with more tips.
Avoid negative reinforcement training
As mentioned above, it could be the case that it has learned to bite your arms because it gets things it wants when it does it. Instead, it would help to redirect its behavior when it seems like it is about to start and to avoid rewarding it when it does do it.
Give it other things to chew on
In addition to the above, you could also give it other things to chew on so that it does not feel the need as much to bite on things you don’t want it to especially if it is teething. Things you could give it would be toys, bones or chews.
When training your Golden Retriever it is important to be consistent. It is unlikely that you will get big results with just one training session. But, you can get much better results by training it consistently over the course of weeks.
Get help from an animal behaviorist
If you cannot get it to stop or it has been doing it aggressively, consider getting help from a professional dog behaviorist or training. By doing so, you should be able to see how to train it in a secure manner.