If your Golden Retriever has been acting timid or afraid you might want to know why and what you can do about it.
In this post, I will show you why it might be doing it and what you can do about it.
So, why does my Golden Retriever act timid? Possible reasons are that it was mistreated, it’s in a new environment, illness, injury, it’s going through a more timid phase as a puppy or you might have been inadvertently rewarding the behavior.
Your Golden Retriever could be doing it for a number of reasons and it could be due to a combination of them. However, there are also a number of things you can do about it that will depend on the most likely cause.
Why your Golden Retriever is timid scared or afraid
Below, I will show you a number of reasons why it might be doing it and what would make them more likely to be the main reason.
The cause could be that there are noises that it does not like. This would be more likely if it is not always afraid but it becomes more afraid when there are certain noises such as thunder and lightning or construction works.
The cause could be that someone mistreated it. This would be more likely if you recently adopted it from a shelter. In this case, it would be likely that it will become more comfortable over the course of weeks and months as it gets used to its new environment. However, you could help by giving it lots of training, exercise and attention.
The cause might also be that someone has been mistreating it in its current environment. This would be more likely if it starts to act afraid around certain people.
It’s unsure of its environment
If you recently adopted your Golden Retriever, it could be the case that it is unsure of the safety of its new environment.
In this case, it would be likely that it will improve over the course of a few weeks. It would help to give it attention throughout the day by training it, playing with it and exercising it. If it does not improve it would help to get help from a vet or dog behaviorist.
Illness or injury
The cause could be that it is ill or injured. This would be more likely if it has started acting afraid suddenly and if it has been showing other signs of being ill or injured such as being fatigued, vomiting or limping. In this case, the best option would be to take it to a vet.
It’s still young
If your Golden Retriever still a puppy it could be going through a timider stage that many go through. This would be more likely if your puppy is around the age of 6 weeks old since it is not uncommon for Golden Retrievers to become slightly timid at around that age. In this case, it would be likely that it will become less timid as it gets older.
You intimidate it
It might be the case that it gets afraid around you because of the way that you interact with it. Instead of approaching it quickly, aggressively or by getting emotional with it, try to interact with it in a calm manner.
You have inadvertently reinforced the behavior
The cause could be that you have been inadvertently encouraging the behavior by giving it things it wants when it does it. If you tend to give it things that it wants when it does it then it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.
Instead of giving it things it wants when it is afraid, it would help to reward it when it is not afraid and to try to change its focus when it is likely to start doing it.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider about your Golden Retriever doing it.
If it has always been timid, scared or afraid
It would help to consider what else happened when your Golden Retriever started doing it if it has not always been acting that way. It could be the case that there was an event that occurred that caused it to start doing it.
If it started doing it more suddenly it would make it more likely to be due to things such as being mistreated, a change in its diet or getting ill or injured. It would help to consider if anything else changed at around the same time that it started doing it.
Whereas, if it has always been that way it would be more likely that it learned to be that way by rewarding the behavior, being in a new environment, being a puppy, illness, injury or previous owners mistreating it.
When it does it more
It would also help to consider if there is a certain time that it tends to do it more since the timing could also have something to do with it.
For example, if it tends to become scared when you are about to leave then it would be a sign that it has some separation anxiety. Whereas, if it does it more when there are certain noises outside it would be more likely to have something to do with the noises.
How old it is
It would also help to consider how old it is since its age will also likely have an impact on its behavior.
If it is still a puppy it would be more likely that it will stop doing it as it gets older but it would still help to give it lots of training, exercise and positive attention.
Whereas, if it is an adult, it would be more likely to be due to one of the above reasons.
What to do about your Golden Retriever being timid scared or afraid
Below are some things you can do about it being afraid.
Take it to a vet
If you cannot figure out why it has been doing it or it has been showing signs of being ill or injured, it would help to take it to a vet. By doing so, you should be able to confirm or rule out medical causes and to get expert advice tailored towards your particular Golden Retriever.
Make sure that it is getting the right amount of exercise
Golden Retrievers are a breed that is meant to get exercise on a daily basis. When they do not get enough exercise it can cause them to behave abnormally and it could be contributing to its behavior. Generally, it is recommended for them to get at least an hour of exercise per day as healthy adults.
Avoid negative reinforcement
It would also help to avoid reinforcing the behavior by rewarding it when it does it. Instead, it would help to try to redirect its focus when it seems likely to start being afraid.
Be calm around it
Since your own actions might be causing it to be acting that way it would help to be calm around your Golden Retriever and to avoid making intimidating gestures. It would also help to give it lots of positive reinforcement training as opposed to punishment-based training.
Avoid physical punishment
It would also help to avoid punishing it since it might not know why it is being punished and it could be contributing to it being afraid. Instead, it would help to get it to behave the way you want with the use of positive reinforcement training.
Get help from a dog behaviorist
If you can’t get it to stop being afraid, it would help to get help from a dog behaviorist. By doing so, you should be able to see why it is doing it and how to get it to stop.
When training your Golden Retriever, it is important to be patient. It is not likely that you will be able to get it to behave the way you want with a single training session. But, if you train it consistently over the course of weeks and months, you can get much better results.