6 Reasons Golden Retrievers Attack Other Dogs (And What To Do)

Worried about whether your Golden Retriever is likely to attack another dog? In this article, not only will you find out how likely it is. But you’ll also learn why it happens, how to prevent it, what to do, and most importantly, what you should avoid doing.

So keep reading to find out everything you need to know!

So, Do Golden Retrievers Attack Other Dogs?

The chances of a golden retriever attacking another dog are quite slim. However, like any dog, it comes down to a case-by-case basis. If the golden retriever is provoked enough, then it’s entirely possible that they may attack another dog, but the chances of them instigating an attack are a lot smaller.

Why Do Golden Retrievers Attack Other Dogs?

There are a whole bunch of reasons that your golden retriever may end up attacking another dog. Here are the ones to watch out for.

Poor Socialisation

Poor socialization or a lack of exposure to other dogs is one of the main reasons your golden retriever might attack another dog. If your retriever didn’t spend enough time around other dogs as a puppy, then they would have never learned how to act around other dogs accordingly.

They’ve Been Attacked Before

If you notice that your golden retriever attacks a certain breed of dog, then it may be the case that they’ve been attacked before. This sort of defensive behavior could be at the root of why your retriever attacks other dogs.

They’re Playing Too Rough

Perhaps it could just be that your golden retriever is playing too rough, especially if they’re still young. As a golden retriever grows, they’ll learn how rough they can and can’t play, but they should grow out of this.

To know for sure if they’re being rough or attacking, it’s important to learn your dog’s body language.

Protection

Your golden retriever may have attacked because they thought you, your family, another dog, or your home might need protecting. If you think this is the case, then you should figure out what happened before they attacked. This could also be the reason that your golden attacks people as well.

Asserting Dominance

If your golden retriever is attacking another dog, it could be because they’re trying to assert dominance. Along with attacking other dogs, you may also notice that your golden retriever tries to position itself over other dogs and ignores your commands to stop as well.

Your Emotions

If you become extremely emotional around another dog, then your golden retriever is going to react in kind as well. This could result in them becoming confused and thinking they need to attack another dog. So make sure if you’re around other dogs, you’re staying calm.

What Should You Do If Your Golden Retriever Attacks Another Dog

If your golden retriever is attacking other dogs, then according to the PDSA, you should do the following:

  • Stay calm. If you become agitated, this may make your dog feel more worried.
  • Distract your dog from a distance. Try to avoid shouting at or making direct eye contact with your dog as this can make them more aggressive. Call them away if you can, or use their favourite toy to distract them. If you have a leash or a large coat you can throw this over your dog to help you distract them for long enough for the other dog to get away, and then get them under control. Hopefully the owner of the other dog will also be trying to remove their dog from the situation.
  • Get them back on the lead. Be careful when you do this as they may be highly stressed and you don’t want to get bitten yourself. A slip lead may be safer (you can make one with a normal lead by putting the end of the lead through the handle to make a loop). If you cannot get a lead onto their collar or over their head safely, you can try to put a slip lead under the dog’s tummy, just in front of their back legs.  Remain calm and try to take them somewhere they can’t see the other dog and can calm themselves down.

How Can You Prevent Your Golden Retriever From Attacking Other Dogs?

You know why golden retrievers attack other dogs and what you should do in the event of an attack. But prevention is always the best measure. Here are some of the best ways you can stop your golden retriever from attacking another dog.

Speak To A Vet Or Specialist

If your golden retriever has already attacked and you’ve gotten them away from the situation, then the first thing you should do is consult a vet or a specialist. They’ll be able to give you great advice on what to do next based on your golden retriever’s specific situation.

Try A Training Program

Training your golden retriever is another thing that you should do, no matter whether your golden retriever is attacking another dog or not. Positive reinforcement is one of the best options as it is based on rewarding good behavior over punishing bad behavior, which is more effective and increases the bond between you and your pup.

Create Positive Associations

You can also create positive associations with your Golden Retriever as well. To do this, you reward them with small behavior and slowly work up. For example, start by rewarding them for seeing a dog and not acting aggressively. Then getting close to a dog and not acting aggressively, then walking past a dog, and so on. If you do this enough, you can create lasting positive associations in your golden retriever.

Desensitization Training

Another great way is to try desensitization training. To do this, you let your golden retriever see other dogs at a distance but not close enough for them to want to attack; when they act accordingly, give them a treat. Once they’re used to this, you slowly bring the dog closer and closer until they’re used to being with other dogs.

Two dogs playing on a grass field. Young german shepherd and golden retriever are playing with each other. Fun on grass and sun.

What Should You Avoid Doing?

Now you know all the things you should do, here are some things you’re going to definitely want to avoid doing.

Don’t Let Them Off The Lead In Unfamiliar Places

If your golden retriever has attacked another dog before, make sure you only let them off the lead in areas you know well. And even then, if they’re constantly attacking, you should keep them muzzled.

Doing this allows you to always know where your pup is if you need to recall them.

Don’t Become Complacent

You should always be aware and on the lookout for other dogs so you can recall your golden retriever before anything gets out of hand. This works both ways; it will help reduce the chances of an unfamiliar dog coming towards your golden retriever and vice versa.

Don’t Shout Or Make Direct Eye Contact

Shouting or making direct eye contact with your golden can actually make your golden retriever act more aggressively. Because doing this can often rile them up.

Don’t Ignore Early Signs Of Aggression

And lastly, make sure you’re not ignoring early signs of aggression. If you see them early, you can speak to a professional and reduce the chances your golden retriever will attack another dog massively!

FAQ

Can A Golden Retriever Be An Attack Dog?

With the right training, it’s entirely possible that your golden retriever can become an attack dog. They’re already a good size; the key would be working on their temperament, as they aren’t naturally aggressive.

In Conclusion

As you can see, it’s highly unlikely that your Golden Retriever will attack other dogs, but if they do, there are lots of things you can do to prevent it from happening, as well as some things you’re definitely going to want to avoid doing.

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