If your Golden Retriever has been acting nervous you might want to know why and what you can do about it.

In this post, I will show you a number of reasons why it might act nervous and what would make them more likely.

So, why does my Golden Retriever act nervous? Possible reasons are that someone mistreated it, separation anxiety, being in a new home, inadvertently rewarding the behavior, a lack of exercise or you might be acting too emotional with it.

Your Golden Retriever might be doing it for multiple reasons and it could be due to a combination of them. However, there are also a number of things you can do about it, depending on the most likely cause.

Why your Golden Retriever is so nervous

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

Separation anxiety

The cause could be that it has separation anxiety. This is where it does not like being left alone and the prospect of being left alone causes it to become nervous. This would be more likely to be the case if your Golden Retriever starts to be nervous when you are about to leave home.

If it does seem to have separation anxiety it would help to train it to be less anxious without you.

To do this you could do as follows:

  • Make it seem like you are about to leave by doing something such as picking up your keys
  • Reward your Golden Retriever for not being anxious and repeat these two steps a few times
  • Make more moves towards actually leaving such as by picking up the keys and putting your hand on the door handle
  • Reward your Golden Retriever for not being anxious and repeat the process a few times
  • Actually open the door and go outside for a few moments then come back and reward your Golden Retriever
  • Repeat the above, each time staying outside for slightly longer

Mistreatment

The cause could be that someone mistreated it and it does not trust people as much now.

If you adopted it from a shelter it could be the case that previous owners mistreated it and it has caused it to be nervous around people as a result. In this case, it might improve as it becomes more comfortable in its new home but you can help by giving it positive attention in the form of exercise, training and by playing with it. If it doesn’t improve after a few months consider getting the advice of a vet or a dog behaviorist in your area.

If your Golden Retriever started being nervous suddenly it could also be the case that someone mistreated it recently. This would be more likely if there is a certain person that it tends to hide from or if you saw someone mistreat it yourself.

A new home

If you recently bought or adopted your Golden Retriever it could be the case that it is unsure if its new environment is safe. In this case, it would be likely that it will begin to improve over the course of weeks. If it does not, it would help to take it to a vet.

You get emotional around it

Golden Retrievers tend to be highly responsive to their owner’s emotions. The reason why your Golden Retriever gets nervous could be that you get highly emotional around it.

Instead of interacting with it in an emotional way, it would help to be calm with it and to give it lots of positive reinforcement training.

You have inadvertently reinforced the behavior

It could be the case that you have inadvertently encouraged the behavior by giving it things that it wants when it does it. If you tend to give it things such as toys, treats or extra attention when it does it then it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.

Instead, it would help to reward it when it is behaving the way you want it to and to follow the other tips mentioned below.

Someone left or another pet passed away

The reason could be that someone recently left home or that another dog passed away. This would be more likely if it started being nervous shortly after the person or dog left.

It would be likely that it will improve over time. However, you could help by giving it exercise, training and toys to play with.

Not enough exercise

Golden Retrievers are meant to get exercise on a daily basis and not getting enough can cause them to behave abnormally. Not getting enough exercise would be more likely to be the cause if your Golden Retriever tends to behave better when it has gotten exercise.

Generally, it is recommended for them to get at least an hour of exercise per day as healthy adults.

It is still young

If your Golden Retriever is still young it could be going through a more nervous phase.

In this case, it would be likely that it will become less nervous as it gets older.

However, it would help to give it positive reinforcement training, attention and exercise now to reduce how nervous it is when it is older.

An issue with its diet

The cause could be that there is an issue with its diet. This would be more likely if it has started behaving differently since a change in its diet. It could be that it is eating too much, not enough or things that it should not be.

It would help to consult with your local vet about its diet and to make sure that no one else has been feeding it without telling you.

Illness or injury

The cause could also be that it is ill or injured. This would be more likely if it has started being nervous suddenly and if it has been showing other signs of being ill or injured such as vomiting, fatigue or limping. In this case, the best option would be to take it to a vet.

Things to consider

If it started being nervous suddenly

If it has not always been nervous, it would 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 being nervous suddenly it would be more likely to be due to things such as being mistreated, frightened of something, a change in its schedule or moving homes. It would help to consider what else changed when it started being nervous.

Whereas, if it has always been nervous it would be more likely to be due to things such as you inadvertently training it to be nervous, separation anxiety, being emotional with it, being young or not enough exercise.

When it becomes nervous

It would also help to consider the timing of when it does it since the timing could also have something to do with it.

If it does seem to be more nervous at a certain time it would be more likely to be due to things such as separation anxiety, someone being around that it does not like or something happening at that time that it is afraid of like construction works. It would help to consider what is different at the time that it starts being nervous.

How to get your Golden Retriever to stop being nervous

Below are some options you have when getting it to be less nervous.

Reward it when it is not nervous

It would help to reward it when it is not being nervous and to stop rewarding it when it starts being nervous. By doing so, you should be able to teach it that being well behaved causes it to get rewards and being nervous does not. This should help to discourage the behavior.

Avoid negative reinforcement

As mentioned above, it could be the case that you have been making it act nervous by giving it things that it wants when it is nervous.

Instead of rewarding the behavior, try to reward it when it is not nervous and to redirect its behavior when it starts showing signs of being nervous.

Avoid being emotional around it yourself

As mentioned above, your Golden Retriever will respond to your own emotions. If you are highly emotional around your Golden Retriever it will cause it to react itself. When dealing with your Golden Retriever it would help to be calm and to use training to get it to behave the way that you want.

Get help from a dog behaviorist

If you are unable to get it to stop, you could also get help from a dog behaviorist. By doing so, you should be able to see why it is behaving that way and how to get it to stop.

Avoid leaving it alone for long periods

Since your Golden Retriever might become nervous due to separation anxiety, it would help to avoid leaving it alone for long periods possibly by coming back quickly on your lunch break.

Take it to a vet

If you can’t figure out why it has been doing it or it seems like it could be ill or injured, the best option would be to take it to a vet. By doing so, you should be able to get expert advice tailored to your particular Golden Retriever and to rule out the possibility of it being ill or injured.

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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.