If your Golden Retriever is afraid of everything you might be wondering why and what you can do about it.

This post will show you a number of possible reasons why it does it and what you can do to get it to be less scared.

So, why is my Golden Retriever afraid of everything? Possible reasons are that previous owners mistreated it, a lack of socializing as a puppy, being in a new environment, illness or injury or you might have rewarded the behavior.

There are actually many different possible causes and it could be due to a combination of different causes. But there are some clues that you can look for when trying to figure out the exact reason. There are also a number of options you have when getting it to be braver.

Why your Golden Retriever is afraid of everything

Below are some possible causes of why it has been being afraid and what would make them more likely.

Previous owners

The cause could be that previous owners mistreated it and it has caused it to be fearful of things now. This would be more likely if you recently adopted it from a shelter.

In this case, it should begin to improve as it becomes more comfortable with you and it would help to give it lots of positive attention in the form of training, exercise and by playing with it. If it doesn’t improve over the course of a few weeks, it would help to get help from a vet or dog behaviorist.

Someone has been mistreating it

It could also be the case that someone in its current environment has been mistreating it. This would be more likely if your Golden Retriever spends a lot of time around people other than you and if it avoids certain people.

It was not able to socialize as a puppy

The cause could be that it did not get to socialize much as a puppy. When dogs are puppies they will naturally be very curious and this is the time where they learn about the world most. If they do not get the chance to interact with people or dogs then it will have a large impact on what they are like as adults.

It’s in a new environment

If your Golden Retriever is in a new environment it could be the case that it is afraid because it does not know whether or not its new environment is safe. In this case, it would be likely that it will begin to improve over the course of a few weeks as it gets more comfortable with its new environment.

It is ill or injured

The cause could also 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. In this case, the best option would be to take it to a vet.

Nature

Some Golden Retrievers will be naturally a lot more outgoing than others. It could be the case that your Golden Retriever is just naturally timider.

This would be more likely if you know that it was able to socialize as a puppy, it has not been mistreated and if it has always acted that way.

Rewarding the behavior

It could be the case that you have encouraged it to behave that way by giving it things it wants when it does it. If you tend to give it things such as toys, treats or extra attention when it becomes afraid, it might be doing it more in order to get more rewards.

Instead, it would help to reward it when it shows signs of being less afraid but to avoid rewarding it for being afraid and to prevent other possible causes of it being afraid.

Things to Consider

If it is always afraid or if it is only afraid at certain times

It would help to consider the timing of when it becomes afraid since it could be the case that the timing has something to do with it.

For example, if it starts being afraid when there are noises outside, it would be much more likely to be due to the noises. Whereas, if it does it when a certain person is around, it would be more likely to be due to it having negative feelings towards that person.

If it becomes afraid at random times, it could be due to illness or injury, rewarding the behavior, a lack of socializing as a puppy, being mistreated when it was younger or being in a new environment.

It is not unusual for Golden Retrievers to be afraid of things such as thunder

If your Golden Retriever tends to be afraid of things such as sirens, fireworks or thunder then it would not be such an unusual thing and not something to be too concerned about.

How old it is

It would also help to consider the age of your Golden Retriever. If it is a puppy then it will be normal for it to seem to be slightly timid at times. However, it would help to make sure that it gets lots of interactions with other people and dogs so that it learns not to be afraid.

If it is an adult, it would be more likely to be due to one of the reasons mentioned above.

How to get your Golden Retriever to be less afraid of things

Below are some options you have when getting your Golden Retriever to be braver.

Allow it to meet new people and dogs

If it didn’t get to socialize much as a puppy, it would help to get it to meet other friendly people and dogs so that it can learn not to be afraid of them.

Reward it when it is not afraid

It would also help to reward it when it shows signs of not being afraid when it normally would. By doing so you should be able to reinforce the behaviors that you want to see.

Avoid punishing or rewarding it when it does become fearful

It would also help to avoid punishing it since it might not know why it is being punished, it could cause it to develop feelings of resentment and it will likely make it more afraid. Instead, it would help to use positive reinforcement training to get it to learn how to behave.

On the other hand, it would also help to avoid encouraging the behavior by trying to recognize when it is likely to start being timid and redirecting its focus onto something else.

Take it to new locations

One way to get it used to new stimuli would be to take it to new locations often. One way to do this would be to walk it on a different route than you normally would.

See a vet or a certified dog expert in your area

If you can’t figure out why it has been doing it, you can’t get it to stop or it has been being very scared then the best option would be to get help from a vet or dog behaviorist. By doing so, you will be able to get expert advice tailored towards your particular Golden Retriever.

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Author

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.