Golden Retrievers are the most gentle of family pets. Playful, loving, and kind; it’s almost as if they were incapable of showing any signs of aggression… ever. However, dogs will be dogs and even if they are not always exposed to situations that can trigger their biting or nipping, this doesn’t mean that they’re not capable of displaying such behavior. Especially when confronted with unpredictable and disturbing events, a Golden Retriever may lash out by biting. There are a couple of reasons that could explain this “unruly” behavior in your pup. How do you stop your precious Golden from biting? Let’s find out…
The Root of the Behavior
Your Golden is friendly, kind, respectful and always mindful of others… how in the world could he be capable of snapping at someone, let alone you? Yes, Golden Retrievers are known for their good-natured demeanor, but they are still dogs. To start with, all dogs have the chance to bite. When it comes to Goldens, it seems that they have a stronger tendency to nip, especially when they’re very young. Yes, we can all agree that a Golden Retriever puppy gently biting on your fingers is the cutest thing in the world. Biting at this young age is healthy to all pups because it strengthens and improves gums and tooth health. However, encouraging this type of behavior at a very early age can also lead to aggression and dominance issues in later years, and that’s why puppies should be taught to stop biting when they are still very young.
For the most part, Golden Retrievers can be incredibly caring but they are still predators in nature and these instincts never completely go away. Given that this type of breed has been used to hunt and retrieve small animals in the wild, they may continue to chase other animals and snap at people, as a natural reaction. Sometimes, Golden Retrievers will bite in response to fear or distress. Dogs bite as a reaction to something. If the dog finds himself in a stressful situation, he may bite to defend himself or his territory. But he may also bite because of pain. Your dog may be suffering from an illness you don’t know about, so if by chance you touch that sensitive spot or play roughly with him and cause him more distress, he might snap at you. Goldens usually develop fears between 8 and 14 weeks of age, so if your pup was adopted, you might need to consider early life abuse and mistreatment as another plausible explanation for the behavior.
Encouraging the Behavior
The truth of the matter is, biting is a normal behavior. It’s common to all dog breeds, however, you need to know how to discourage this type of dangerous reaction, while encouraging positive physical and mental stimulation. Golden Retrievers, just like every other breed of dog, depend on and need adequate care and guidance from their owners. First of all, you need to address the issue as soon as possible. The younger the puppy, the quicker he’ll learn to renounce the behavior. Take the role of the mother and teach them about bite inhibition - a dog’s ability to modify the pressure of the bite. This means that your pup will gradually learn how hard is too hard and use his teeth more gently in play.
It’s especially important when you have small children in the house. At the same time, you will need to educate your kids on how to treat the puppy as well. Startling or frightening the dog might result in him lashing out on them. The same goes for teasing or hurting the puppy. Sometimes even the most loyal and tolerant dog may retaliate if he cannot stand the pressure any longer. Don’t forget about discouraging finger biting when he’s really young and properly socializing him as well. It will make him feel much more comfortable in different situations as he gets older.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Training a young puppy to stop biting is very important for their future development. But if your Golden Retriever continues to bite, in spite of your efforts to stop him from doing so, it’s advised to contact a specialized behaviorist. They can better understand what is causing this dangerous display and come up with professional methods of training. At the same time, consult with your veterinary provider to figure out if your Golden is suffering from any underlying medical issues that are triggering this type of behavior. The biting may be your puppy’s way of telling you that he doesn’t feel very well.
Teaching your Golden Retriever that biting is not okay should start at a very early age. This will not only make future training a lot less stressful but will lower the risk of potential aggression considerably. Goldens love to please their families, as soon as they realize their behavior is not acceptable. So educate your children on how to approach the puppy and contact a professional if you see things get out of control.