Having a Golden Retriever that growls can be a very concerning thing and is something that you’ll be wanting to stop. This post will help you to figure out why your Golden Retriever is growling and how to stop it.
So, why does my Golden Retriever growl? Possible reasons are that it is protecting food or possessions, it’s fearful, in pain, uncertain about what’s happening, having fun or that it is being dominant.
There are a number of reasons why it might growl a lot 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.
Why your Golden Retriever growls
Each of the different reasons why it does it will likely come with some clues.
Below are a number of possible causes and what would make them more likely.
The reason why it growls could be that it is warning you not to touch things that it thinks belong to it. This would be more likely if it does it in situations such as when it is eating or when you are trying to sit where it normally sits.
Dogs that are normally friendly can become aggressive when they are being possessive so it would help to seek the guidance of a dog trainer or behaviorist in your area to see how to get it to stop safely.
The reason why it growls might be because it is fearful of something. This would be more likely if it does it more in situations such as when there are noises outside.
It could be that your Golden Retriever is injured. When dogs are in pain it is common for them to growl. If your Golden Retriever has been growling recently in situations when it normally wouldn’t then this would be more likely to be the case. If pain is the cause then you’ll probably notice other symptoms such as limping or a change in behavior. In this case, the best option would be to take it to a vet for a checkup.
Uncertainty of what’s about to happen
It could also be the case that your Golden Retriever is scared or unsure of what is happening. If your Golden Retriever is unsure of what is about to happen and it thinks that something bad will happen then it could start to growl. This could happen when trying to take it to new locations or if someone it doesn’t know is trying to interact with it.
It’s having fun
Often dogs will growl when they are having fun. If your Golden Retriever growls more when your are playing games such as tug of war with it then it would be more likely to be because it is having fun.
It could be the case that your Golden Retriever growls because it is being dominant. This would be more likely if it is also unresponsive to your command, it tries to position itself to be in higher positions that you or it tries to get you to move from a certain position.
In this case, it would be important to give it lots of training so that it learns how to behave and to see you as its leader.
Rewarding the behavior
It could also be the case that you have encouraged it to growl 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 growls it will likely do it more to get more rewards.
Instead, it would help to reward it when it is being well behaved and to avoid rewarding when it growls it until it has stopped growling.
How To Stop Your Golden Retriever’s Growling
Below are some options you have when getting your Golden Retriever to growl less.
Fix any pain
As mentioned above, the reason why your Golden Retriever might be growling a lot could be that it has an injury. If it has started growling suddenly and it has been acting unusually in other ways too, it would be best to take it to a vet. By doing so you will be able to get expert advice tailored to your particular Golden Retriever and to rule out the possibility of it being injured.
Remove anything it doesn’t like
If the growling is being caused by something in its environment then you should take measures to make it more comfortable with its environment. This means that you should move any objects that it doesn’t like such as Christmas trees, noisy fans or whatever else it might be if possible.
The other option for you would be to remove your Golden Retriever from the environment. This is hard to do if it’s your home but if your Golden Retriever growls on walks at specific locations then you can try avoiding those areas when you can.
Train it to not growl
Another option would be to use positive reinforcement training to get it to stop. This is where you reward your Golden Retriever for behaving the way you want it to and avoid rewarding it when it does not.
One way to use positive reinforcement training to get it to stop growling, is to get some treats that it really loves, and then give it a toy or bone that causes it to growl when you try to remove it. What you’ll want to do is to place the treats that it likes on the floor away from where it is chewing the bone so that you can pick the bone up when it’s getting the treats. The idea here is that you will get your Golden Retriever to associate taking its bone/toy away with getting the treats that it loves causing it to be more comfortable when you are near it when it’s eating.
You can watch the video below for more tips on how it is done.
Redirect its focus
Another option would be to redirect its focus onto something else whenever it looks like it is about to start growling. If you keep preventing it from growling by redirecting its focus, it should begin to grow out of the habit eventually.
Make sure to stop it when it’s still a puppy
If your Golden Retriever is still a puppy, it would be important to make sure to take the time now to train it to stop doing it and to train it a lot generally. If you have not trained it yet, it would help to start with the basics and to build up from there.
Get the help from an animal behaviorist
If you cannot get it to stop doing it or it seems to become aggressive when it growls then it would help to seek the guidance of a dog behaviorist or trainer in your area. By doing so you will be able to see how to get it to stop growling in a secure manner.
Things to consider
Keep your distance
If your dog is growling then you shouldn’t approach it since you’ll be risking it seeing you as a threat. Instead, wait for it to calm down and then try to rectify it. Alternatively, if you’re concerned, try and get help from a professional trainer who will be able to deal with it using a lot more experience.
It would also help to avoid punishing it when it growls. If you do, your Golden Retriever will likely not know why you are punishing it and it could lead to feelings of resentment. It could also cause it to become aggressive itself. Instead, it would help to use positive reinforcement training to get it to learn to stop doing it.